Don’t Tell Me How to Feel, How to React

Coincidentially Dec 5th is the day the 21st amendment was ratified, re-legalizing the consumption of alcohol.

 

Don’t tell me the Seaver trade was worse.  We shouldn’t be arguing which Mets disappointment was worse instead of debating batting titles and MVPs.  I feel how I feel, and you feel how you feel.  This is the single worse day I’ve experienced as a Mets fan.

 

Don’t tell me about the contract, or that you know how it’s going to turn out.  No one knows that, and there aren’t probability charts for injuries.  Everyone is different.   Can you really go from hoping that ball finds the gap so Reyes gets a triple, to hoping he pulls a hamstring or isn’t worth it in a couple of years?  Would you really have been upset of the Mets ‘overpaid’, which is something that only happens in retrospect, to keep a player like Jose Reyes on the team?  Does anyone seriously root for a long-term fiscally responsible plan when they go to baseball games?  I don’t.  I just wanted to see Jose Reyes and my Mets.   Add in that Carlos Beltran is also gone, and Johan Santana may never be the same, and it’s hard to swallow.

 

Also, don’t tell me I’m “Less of a fan” for being less interested in the Mets without Reyes.  There is no rulebook to fandom.  The truth is most of you are also less interested in the Mets, just unwilling to admit it.  Less people will go to games, less people will buy jerseys.  The team being likely worse only further plays into that.  Jose Reyes was one small part of the big picture, but without his portion I find myself noticing the other pictures, other places to spend my money, in the building.  I’ll never not be a Mets fan, nor will I ever stop rooting for them, but that doesn’t mean I’ll devote the same level of energy and commitment that I have in the past.

 

To sum it up in a way that to me seems to represent baseball pretty well:  I’m less excited about the Mets and less confident they’ll be successful in the near future than I was following Beltran striking out against the Cardinals to end the ’06 season.

There Is No Replacement For Jose Reyes

There is an interesting juxtaposition among Mets fans that talk about things like trading Wright or letting Reyes walk.  The same people that justify this with statements about not competing for years and being in rebuilding mode seem offended that some (I’d say many) Mets fans suggest they’ll be much less interested in the Mets if Reyes leaves.

 

There’s always a lot of comparison, as well as attempts to avoid comparison, to the Yankees with the Mets.  They share a city and compete for the same entertainment dollar.   The common rhetoric among Mets fans is that the Yankees fans are front-running morons that only care about yelling about how many rings they’ve won and that Mets fans are truer fans that love the team, good or bad.   If a vastly diverse group of millions of Mets fans can agree on anything, it’s that Jose Reyes is a talented baseball player that’s fun to watch.   At what point does it stop being about watching your favorite players play your favorite game and start becoming about being a consistent winner?

 

What is baseball without the season, with the ups and downs of a 162 game scheduled filled with bad breaks and huge hits and the ebbs and flows of stress and emotion?  I don’t follow the Mets for optimal lineup constructions and high-value controlled commodities.  I watch the Mets because I love baseball and I’ve formed an attachment to the players that have worn the uniform year after year.  Jose Reyes is one of those players.  He’s a life-long Met and it’s hard to imagine him anywhere else.  The Mets have other good players, but there is something special about Jose Reyes and his fun-loving attitude.  Perhaps it’s the way he seems to love playing the game as much as we love watching him play it.

 

Sure it’s possible to make arguments about injury risks and long contracts that suggest perhaps giving Reyes too much money or too many years may be detrimental to the long term success of the franchise, but frankly I’d rather take my chances with Reyes.  Those risks exist with every player in every circumstance, and if you’re not going to take a chance with a fan-favorite and top of the line player at a sparse position, what are you even doing?   Reyes is already bordering on legendary Mets status, and that’s not something that comes along every day.   Mike Piazza came here when he was great, Dwight Gooden left in 1994 and Darryl Strawberry before him.  Ignoring that there is long-term financial value to having legends to invite back to Citi Field in the future, do we really want to let one walk away for what’s some kind of  ‘smart process of value contracts and prospect development’?  A couple more years and the Mets record book will be Jose Reyes’ biography, with a guest appearance by David Wright.

 

The Mets have struggled for years now with collapses followed by injuries followed by just about everything else.  Now you want to take the most exciting player on the team away too?   While I’ll always be a Mets fan, there comes a point when it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  It’s easy to say that we need things to stabilize, for bad contracts to work their way off the payroll and for prospects to mature and contribute at the fraction of the cost, but in the meantime other teams are playing baseball and competing for the postseason and doing all sorts of wonderful things.  Taking seasons off is not the way to build a perennial contender.  Every year the Mets spend in rebuilding mode, defined by me as letting Reyes go and not replacing him with at least as much talent, is a year that customers find other ways to spend their entertainment dollar.  Some will go to the Yankees, some will switch to other sports.   Some will stop watching with their kids who will spend more time on video games, movies, or something else entirely.   Husbands will take their wives out to a nice dinner instead of to Citi Field, because maybe without Reyes, and winning, they don’t feel it’s worth the traffic and the rushing home from work.

 

Building a winner will eventually repair the damage, but even if you could guarantee repeated success it takes time to rebuild a fan base.  The Yankees had a healthy amount of fans show up, but even in 2000 they were 8th in total attendance.  The difference was that payrolls hadn’t yet skyrocketed to the levels they are at now.  The Yankees payroll in 2000 would be  the 13th highest payroll in 2011.  It was still possible for teams to maintain a rebuilding payroll and keep some talented stars while keeping revenues at or above payroll.  The way I see it, the Mets can’t easily get their payroll down that low, so they need to work on keeping revenues up.  Reyes can’t do it all by himself, but coupled with the right moves he could be the difference between the Mets raising attendance to 2.6 million or it dropping to 1.7.   Just in ticket prices alone, a swing like that more than pays Reyes salary per year.  Factor in revenue associated with advertising prices based on TV ratings and fans in the seats viewing them on the walls and it’s an even starker difference.   I find it hard to believe that having Jose Reyes playing baseball in New York can’t be profitable, and it’s certainly possible, even likely, that Jose Reyes can be a part of the success even four years from now.

 

There is never a guarantee that smart moves focused on the long term will lead to continued success.  There is no formula Sandy Alderson can follow that means the Mets will definitely be a perennial contender in 2014 and beyond.  Prospects, even highly touted ones, hurt themselves or flame out.  Free agent acquisitions that look like can’t misses age badly or under perform in a new environment.   Other teams in the division and/or league do a better job, or get luckier, in scouting and signing players and suddenly no one knows what the solution is for out-performing them.  It’s not hard to get into a cycle of suck like the Pittsburgh Pirates, constantly looking for All-Star prospects that maybe have a good year or two and than take off for greener pastures while the team struggles to even play at .500.  The best you can do is put yourself in a situation every year where the right set of circumstances gets you into the playoffs.  For the Mets that means keeping Jose Reyes.  It probably also means hoping Johan Santana stays on the field and is still pretty good at pitching, and that other players stay healthy as well.   It may be a long shot, but if you don’t keep yourself in the game you often miss opportunities.

 

I was at the game this year when Jose Reyes felt that first hamstring tightness and left the game.  It was a packed house for a Subway Series game, and Tejada jogging out to shortstop was like a punch in the gut.  I watched the rest of the game in a daze, barely caring about the result.   Reyes had such a great first half that there were road games in May that I was reminding myself to make sure I turned the game on in time, because Reyes would lead off and I might miss something special.  There are reasons to watch bad teams because even bad or average players hit for cycles, throw pitching gems, and smash home runs.  They can stage remarkable comebacks and rock opposing aces and there’s always the looming possibility that someone will throw that no-hitter.  Without Jose Reyes the chances of something magical happening go down.

 

Faith and Fear in Flushing, in an awards presentation to Jose Reyes, makes similar points and sums up my feelings pretty well in this quote.

except for habit and a lifetime of devotion, I can’t think of a good, rational reason to get squarely behind this team if you’re not on it.

Alderson: Mets Will Go Above And Beyond To Retain Reyes

It’s not all negative out there. 

By Centerfield / cranepoolforum.net

NEW YORK — Although it is not clear what it will take to retain Jose Reyes, the free-agent shortstop remains the Mets’ top priority this winter, and a recent interview with General Manager Sandy Alderson suggests that the Mets would be willing to surpass what the market bears in order to retain him.

A Week Later: Hopeful for the 2012 Mets

No Met has made an error, hit a home run, or struck out looking in over a week.  With a week of the offseason under my belt to let the highs and lows of emotion mellow out with time, it’s time to take a closer look at what transpired in 2011 and what hope there is for 2012.

 

The team played harder than was expected.   They didn’t give in, whether because of a tough loss, a rough week, or a poor start to a game.  They’d battle back late in games, and bounce back from a tough loss with a solid win.  There were plenty of times late in the season where they did seem to be going through the motions a little bit, but they seemed to bounce back from that as well.  Hopefully 2012 avoids any long periods of being out of it and prevents the team from getting complacent.

 

The bullpen, while successful for some stretches of times, was mostly a failure.  Part of this was the trade of Francisco Rodriguez, part of it was the depression of Taylor Buchholz.   Part had to do with the starters rarely giving length, as was the main problem in April.   The Mets are aware of this problem, and with some good scouting and analysis, there are relievers out there that you can get for reasonable prices.   I would expect at least 2-3 new faces in the pen to compliment the ones that stay.  The Mets lost a lot of games late last year, and strengthening the pen will go a long way in 2012.

 

The starting rotation is what’s going to be the big deal in 2012.  This is what’s going to make or break the team as a contender.   Niese and Dickey are locks.  Mike Pelfrey is also pretty much a lock, although he does become a trade candidate as well.  I wouldn’t be against keeping Capuano, but I suspect he’s priced himself out of what the Mets want to pay him.  Johan Santana is supposed to be ready to go as normal during Spring Training, but I’d put the certainty of that at somewhere around 75%, and that may be optimistic.  Right now he’s penciled in, and it won’t be until February before we know if he’ll be able to progress normally towards an Opening Day start.   Therefore the Mets need a backup plan.  Adding Santana would certainly help, but it’s likely the Mets need to upgrade further.   Finding another quality starter and reassigning Dillon Gee to be depth for Santana could be the way to go.  However, Dillon Gee may have earned a major league job.   If the Mets can get to the regular season with a healthy Santana, and everyone else, having to send Gee to the minors to start the season would be a nice problem to have.  From there they could reexplore trading Mike Pelfrey.  Other teams will deal with injuries, and many teams could make good use of a guy that will throw 200 innings of slightly above league average value pretty consistently.

 

Then there is the offense.   The offense was very good last year, despite few home runs and a lot of injuries.  2012’s hinges on Reyes staying, but if he does the Mets offense again looks to be very potent.  The biggest concern would be if Pagan can shake off the bad defensive year, and if Duda can take a step forward out in RF.   Thole needs to improve as well, and there’s something to be said for having a veteran right-handed catcher to work with him.  The Mets are discussing moving the walls in a bit in right and left, which will probably help the home run numbers, although they may shrink the gaps a little bit.   It looks like the Mets should still have a top-flight offense next year, capable of dealing damage to opposing pitchers.

 

The Mets could be competitive next year.  A lot hinges on Reyes re-signing and Johan turning up healthy.  The Mets do need to revamp the bullpen, sign another starter, and address the bench, but those are all reasonable expectations.  It’ll be an interesting offseason, and hopefully it will be a launching pad for a good season to come.

Poll: Where Does Reyes Finish In MVP Race?

Jose Reyes won’t win it, he hasn’t played enough games. However, many voters will put Jose Reyes, deservedly, on their top 10 list when they vote. Where do you think he finishes overall?

 

Where Does Jose Reyes Finish in the MVP Awards?
First
Second
Third
Fourth
Fifth
Sixth
Seventh
Eighth
Lower Than Eigtht
Doesn’t Place
pollcode.com free polls

Only Two Games: Enjoy Them

There are only two Mets games left on the season.  Tune in and watch or listen to them.   There are only two and we’ll be missing the Mets before you know it.  The DVR’d episode of How I Met Your Mother will wait.

 

Watch Jose Reyes compete for a batting title.  See some of the young guys make a case for inclusion on the 2012 team.  Nick Evans looks like he’s got a better than fair shot at making the team next year.  Jason Pridie is finish strong, perhaps making a case as the 4th outfielder.

 

It’s not a given that Reyes returns.  This could  be his last two games.  Last night could’ve been the last time David Wright will have driven in Jose Reyes.  If you make it out to Citi Field, make sure to give him a big hand.

 

It’s a long way to April 5th.  There will be a lot of unpleasant stories.  A lot of “The Mets can’t do that” and “The Mets can’t afford that” type stories.  They’re starting already, but at least we have two games left to enjoy before all the rumor and speculation.

 

Let’s Go Mets!

Jose Reyes and the Gold Glove

Jose Reyes has really played some terrific defense this year.  He’s showed great range, often diving to his left or right to grab balls that seem destined for the outfield.  Often he’s even able to then pop-up and throw the guy out at first with his great arm.  He has made 15 errors, but errors rarely tell the whole story.

The problem with him being awarded a Gold Glove, or a Silver Slugger, is that he hasn’t played the full season.  He’s projected to end the season with right around 125 games or so.  That’s about 77 percent of the season, which isn’t horrible, but there are shortstops that have played more than that and have played good defense.  Of course Troy Tulowitzki played in only 122 games last year, made 10 errors, and won the Gold Glove.  You never know exactly what voters are looking for, and how they judge all 16 or so shortstops without easily being able to watch every game each one of them plays.

 

Tulowitzki will probably win both the Silver Slugger and the Gold Glove award for NL shortstops, but Jose Reyes has certainly played defense worthy of the award.   Perhaps if he had stayed on the field for the whole season, he would’ve had a better case for the Silver Slugger, but as it is Tulowitzki has a 60 point lead in OPS, mostly in SLG, and has played nearly every game of the season.   One day Jose Reyes will win a Gold Glove, because he does deserve one.

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.

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.

Biggest Week of Mets Baseball in Years

This next week or two may be the biggest games the Mets have played since the last week of 2008, and they also might be the biggest games they’ll play for years.  The Mets record, as well as the Phillies and Braves, will greatly determine the look of the team going forward this year, and maybe even next year too.

Sandy Alderson has said he would consider trading Carlos Beltran right now a white flag, but if the Mets play poorly over the next two weeks, that white flag is inevitable anyway.   It’s probably not just Carlos Beltran either; The Mets won’t get a ton for guys like Chris Capuano or Jason Isringhausen, but if the chances of contention plummet there will be little reason to keep them.   If they manage to climb closer in the race, the small return from trading those guys won’t be worth gutting the team.  In a way, the Mets could finish a handful of games above or below .500 based on how they do in these next bunch of games.

Either way this season will likely be viewed as a step in the right direction, but if the Mets fall out of it here and restructure the team with next year in mind, the record and excitement levels will fall.   That probably won’t be enough to prompt many to invest in this team, raising projected income and in turn, payroll.  As the memory of the last Mets game fades, we’ll be subjected to more financial news regarding the Picard lawsuit and the Madoff mess.  Their will be speculations about Einhorn’s control, about how much the payroll can possibly go up, and if the Mets will actually field a competitive team.   So the only real news will be mostly doom and gloom again, which won’t help sell tickets.  Just today someone called into WFAN in the brief 20 minutes I had it on proclaiming there is no way the Mets compete for five or six years.

If the Mets climb back into the race and get closer, Sandy Alderson will be more likely to keep players like Beltran, and may even look to add a reliever or someone, especially if the player can be helpful beyond this year too.   Whether or not they can or will win a playoff race is not the point here, the point is that if they stay close and prove that they can play with anyone it suggests that the Mets may not be years from competing.   They could go into the offseason with fans thinking they’re getting close and with the right moves, including resigning Jose Reyes, the Mets could be a very good team next year.  

There’s going to be a lot of stuff to watch with this team this year, and if they remain competitive and winning games they’ll bring in fans to watch versus fans switching gears to what could be a returning NFL season or something else.  Jose Reyes could have a record breaking season, as despite spotting the opposition 11 or more games, he’s still got a commanding lead in base hits.  David Wright will be returning, one of the Mets franchising players who they’ve sorely missed.  Johan Santana may return, and while that’s still up in the air, as is his effectiveness, it will be nice to see him on the mound again.  I would like to be at his first game back if I can at least.

It all starts tonight against the Phillies with your hero in attendence.   The Phillies aren’t taking the Mets seriously, opting to give  Halladay and Lee some extra rest coming off the break and pushing them back until after the weekend.  Facing Vance Worley, Cole Hamels who the Mets routinely beat, and Kyle Kendrick is not a daunting task.  Hopefully the Mets can get a hot start to the second half, while exposing the Phillies pitching depth, and start catching both them and the Braves who are playing the Nationals this weekend.