Letters to the NL East, Part 5, Dear Mets…

Letters to the NL East, Part 5.


Dear Beloved New York Mets,


Get angry.  Seemingly everyone is against you and no one believes in you, but just because circumstances have worked against you recently doesn’t mean you’re out already for 2011.  What do the experts know?  It’s finally time to actually play some baseball, something you’re all pretty good at.  It’s time to surprise some people.  I’m going to go out on a limb and predict a division winner, with the clinching game coming on Sunday September 25th the Phillies on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.  Bobby Valentine will call the action.


David Wright says you need to practice beating teams and getting that swagger and confidence back.  Do it.  The first nine games are against the Marlins, the Nationals, and the Phillies.  With the Phillies you get Hamels who pitches poorly against the Mets, Blanton who’s not very good, and Roy Halladay. It’s the perfect opportunity to get off to a fast start, get Bay and Paulino back, get guys healthy and on track, and start doling out punishment.


Remember, as much as the media wants to write about the Mets being in disrepair, the financial mess, and all the recycled story lines about grit and soft players that they’ve used in the past, if you give them a different story to write they’ll run with that too.  People still write about the 1986 team, of which it’s the 25th anniversary of, because their story of beating up on the league and being unapologetic about it was fun to write.  So give the writers a story about redemption and revenge.   Cast the team, and Wright, as David versus Goliath.  Treat everyone as the enemy and don’t let up.


The best thing about this team is it’s depth and balance.   There aren’t a lot, if any, bad players on this team.  No Jeff Francoeur, no Gary Matthews Jr.  There are a variety of relievers that could’ve made the team that are waiting around in Port St. Lucie, and there are seemingly a half dozen different outfield prospects that could show up at any given time.  Sure, no one ran away with the second base job, but no one threw it away either.  Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner and even Ruben Tejada are right around the corner, or at the end of the dugout, should Emaus not be the guy.  Your worst pitcher is either a second year prospect who could come close to 200 Ks, or a former All-Star who pitched to a sub-4 ERA in 66 innings last year in returning from injury.


You are not going to be easy to beat this year, and with some discipline and health, you could make it a really exciting season.   Remember, no one gets a handicap for winning the division last year, or for having the best team on paper.  It’s time to play the games.


Your Excited Supporter,


Optimistic Mets Fan

Letters to the NL East, Part 4, Dear Phillies…

Letters to the NL East, Part 4.

Dear Phillies,


Is Chase Utley enjoying his rocking chair?  Let me warn you now, you’re going to say “Once everyone gets healthy” a lot while the Mets and Braves distance themselves from you in the division.


Good job offering Cliff Lee the most money per year, and keeping him from the Yankees.  You see, they’d score runs for him.  I find it hard to believe that you are  better off with Lee than with Werth.  Ibanez’s power seems to be vanishing and he’s aging quickly.  Rollins hasn’t really been good in three years, he’s batting third in the lineup yet has a .258 AVG, and .320 OBP over the last three years.  You’re using whatever warm bodies you could find for right field and second base.


You’ve got great pitching, but none of them are good hitters.  Also, every year dozen

s of great pitchers have sub-par years, get hurt, or get no run support.  Will Hamels rising walk rate make him ineffective? Will Oswalt’s back hold up? Roy Halladay threw 750 innings over the last three years, not including Spring Training.  That’s a lot of wear and tear on an arm.


Your a talented team, more talented than your fans deserve, but you don’t have a lot of depth and aren’t built to handle injuries.  But injuries happen, and if you play Wilson Valdez for any extended period of time you might as well shoot yourself in the foot now.


And that bullpen! No Lidge, you’ve got Contreras closing for now because you can’t trust Madson.  Contreras, who’s 10 among active pitchers in wild pitches and 20th in errors, is who you’re going to trust in pressure situations.  The bullpen wasn’t good last year and it doesn’t look any better.  What’s your plan? Burn out the starters and hope they hold up all season?  You can only push an arm so much before it breaks.


You know what they say…the bigger they are, the harder they fall.


Your Bitter Rival,


Optimistic Mets Fan

Letters to the NL East, Part 3, Dear Marlins…

To read previous letters, go here.
Letters to the NL East, part 3
Dear Florida Marlins,
Like most  embarrassing franchises, you didn’t do anything real exciting this offseason.  Oh sure, you signed John Buck, a very nice catcher, but he’s not going to fill the void left by Uggla in his contract year. You paid too much for Javier Vazquez, who was basically terrible last year and was looking for a cozy place to pitch himself into oblivion, and you won’t even get draft picks for him if he does have a good year and bolts.
Kudos though for spending more money this year, if only slightly.  Obviously we all know it’s an attempt to garner a little bit of interest going into a new stadium in 2012.  I can’t help but wonder if you even care how well the team does this year, as long as it looks like it’s going to be better in 2012.  The Mets set attendance highs leaving Shea Stadium, but it looks like the Marlins may set attendance lows leaving Sun Life Stadium.  The only question is if you’ll have more fans in the stands than names for the stadium.

You did a good job revamping the bullpen, which from what I can remember was terrible.   Still, you look a team with some nice players, some passable prospects, and some just not very good ones.  In the end, you’re just boring.  you’re good enough to win games,  not bad enough to be schedule-fodder, but there isn’t much hope for anything else.  At least it doesn’t look like you’ll drag us to Puerto Rico this year.

Your bored “rival”,

Optimistic Mets Fan

Letters to the NL East, Part 0, Dear Yankees…

To read previous letters, go here.
Letters to the NL East, part 0

Dear New York Yankees,

It’s April again.  It’s time to see how your collection of players that were good in the early part of last decade hold up in 2011.  The offense should be fine with mansion-building Jeter manning shortstop.  Even if he can’t quite man the position, at least he can make fine looking leaping throws since he lacks the arm strength of Jose Reyes to reach first otherwise.

The Mets released Oliver Perez, but if we still want to see his act we can always tune in to Yankees games when A.J. Burnett pitches.  Your bullpen looks good, sure, but Mariano is another year older and has presumably reached the stage where he’ll never have to audition for another contract again; the opposite of a contract year.  Soriano has been said to be a bit of a malcontent, we burned Pedro Feliciano out already, and most of us are tired of the Joba show.  Did you really add Luis Ayala, prominent 2008 collapsee, to the roster?

You’ve got steep competition in that division; the Red Sox are clearly better on paper and I wouldn’t count out the Rays.  The Blue Jays have managed to at least be dangerous in recent years and the Orioles are gunning for you.

Good luck trying to make the playoffs this year…you’ll need it.

You crosstown rival,

Optimistic Mets Fan

Letters to the NL East, Part 1, Dear Nats..

Dear Washington Nationals,


You closed Five Guys and are building Shake Shack in Nationals Park? Copy cats!  If you take our Brooklyn beers, I’ll be furious.  Let me guess, it was all Alex Cora’s idea?


Should I be talking about your actual team?  Is there actually anything to talk about?  You’re going to finish last, it’s just a matter of how badly.  Oh, I know, you’ve got a shiny new slugger in right field stolen away from the Phillies.  Kudos on making them a weaker team, that should help us out.  I’m sorry you still have to pay him that much money in 2018.  Don’t worry though, those draft picks you got when Steven Strasburg left for free agency will probably be reaching the majors right around then and won’t be making much money.


At least your team isn’t _completely_ horrible this year.  Maybe you can play spoiler and beat up on the Braves and Phillies a bit in September.  Still, you’ll have to pitch and I’ve seen a better rotation in batting practice.  Livan Hernandez and Jason Marquis should fun to face this year.  The Mets couldn’t have a better Opening Day opponent.


Your Friens Ahead Of You in the Shake Shack line,

Optimistic Mets Fan

Letters to the NL East, Part 2, Dear Braves…

Dear Atlanta Braves,


You think you can quietly build a quality team and surprise people by trying to take this division?  Think again. More often than not this division has been about the Mets chasing you guys, but this year will be different.  Chipper Jones is no longer a scrappy rookie; in fact Larry is a worn down old player that has trouble staying on the field.


I’m aware you may try to compete for the best offense in the league, but remember that Alex Gonzalez is not good, Freddie Freeman is an unproven rookie, and Nate McLouth has been bad.  If Chipper can’t play, that offense suddenly isn’t very good, especially on days McCann needs a break.


Yes yes, pitching is your thing.  I get it.  You’ve got Hudson back healthy and young Tommy Hanson, cousin to the members of the band Hanson, looks like the real deal.  A fair amount probably hinges on Jair Jurrjens being able to regain his form from two years ago, and if that’s going to happen is yet to be seen.  Just make sure not too many balls are hit to second, or Uggla will do his best to undo defensively any value he creates with his bat.


Waiting to reverse the tomahawk chop on you,


Optimistic Mets Fan

Letters to the NL East, Part 5/5

(To read past year’s letters, click here)

Letters to the NL East, Part 0 of 5. (part 0, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4)


Dear New York Mets,

Welcome to the what I like to joke is the second half of the ’09-’10 season.   But it’s time to put the past behind us and move on.  Nothing that happened before today counts for anything, and it’s time to step it up and start taking control of your own destiny.

Last season was a disaster; Let’s not talk about it anymore.  It’s now 2010 and even though we’ve got a couple of nagging injuries, there is hope.  Reyes will be back shortly, Murphy by the end of the month, and hopefully Beltran not too much after that.  The pitchers are healthy and while we’re missing Beltran for too much time, the rest of the offense is actually really capable.  There’s a lot of pressure on the pitching staff right now, but from all accounts you’ve got a chip on your shoulder and are working hard to succeed.  Relish the underdog role and punish the opponent.

Citi Field is amazing and all the changes look great.  Now make the experience inside a memorable one and make me forget that there is a Big Apple Brews or Shake Shack anywhere.  I’ll be there today early enough to get all that stuff out of the way before settling in to watch Santana pitch.  It’s time to get some confidence and win some games. It’s time to talk about things like wins and losses, actual performance, and stat lines, without trying to predict and project what you guys are going to do.  The division is ripe for the picking, and it’s time you stopped disappointing us and rise up and take it.   Let’s rock Citi Field like it’s never rocked before.

The predictions for your team are meek, but don’t let that bother you.  It’s time to surprise some people.  By June I expect to hear a collective, begrudging “I think this division is the Mets after all” to be uttered by the supposed baseball experts.  I expect you to make it so that most Philadelphia blogs will be talking about the Eagles by August.  The Mets have never closed two consecutive decades without a World Series title, and I see no reason to start the trend now.  In fact, they’ve never had a decade where they did not even go to the World Series, so let’s make that the starting point.

Your lifelong fan,

Optimistic Mets Fan

(I’ll be at the game today, but some that aren’t will be gathering in the Real Dirty Dugout irc chatroom of which you can find a link over on the right)

Letters to the NL East, Part 0/5

(To read past year’s letters, click here)

Letters to the NL East, Part 0 of 5. (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4)


Dear New York Yankees, (Because while they are not part of the division, are still are rivals in a way)

Ugh.  You purchased your 27th World Series last year.  You made the team better by acquiring Javier Vasquez from the Braves, even if he’s struggled as a Yankee before.  But this doesn’t exactly guarantee the same success in 2010.

Your team looked old and over the hill last April but was able to bounce back.  Eventually the age on the team won’t be able to do that, although Jeter and Rivera will certainly be trying so they can get that extra bit out of you in contract negotiations.

However, just about everything went right for you last season, and it’s not likely to go that way again.  Will guys like Nick Johnson and AJ Burnett stay healthy?  Will Granderson hit lefties?  How many games can Posada play behind the plate?   As I write this, Nick Johnson and Posada have both already been scratched from spring games this week.

It’s fair to say that the Yankees don’t have a ton of holes, but you do have two talented teams in your division that can exploit even the smallest problem in your game.  The success of last year does mask a lot of possible problems that could open up and devour the team though.  The handling of the bullpen, Joba and Hughes.  The range and age of your shortstop.  A-Rod’s hip, which was supposedly going to need more surgery but somehow didn’t.  Are the Feds coming for A-Rod and why is he dodging them?  Will Yankee Stadium in 2010 become the setting of some sort of Bourne film with A-Rod dashing through the stands with Matt Damon chasing him?  It’s probably a safe bet that they all the holes won’t all open at once, and that the Yankees could overcome some of them, but that’s why we play the games. When the dust clears you may find yourselves in third place and playing golf in October.

Your cross-town rival,

Optimistic Mets Fan

Letters to the NL East, Part 4/5

(To read past year’s letters, click here)

Letters to the NL East, Part 4 of 5. (part 1, part 2, part 3)


Dear Philadelphia Phillies,

You suck.  That’s right, you heard me.  You’re the “popular” pick to win the division, much like the Mets were predicted to win the World Series last year.  You know what?  It doesn’t matter.  You get credit in analysts’ eyes for being there in the past, but that doesn’t actually get you any wins in 2010.

You already get one big black mark for letting Cliff Lee leave when you acquired Halladay.  Now suddenly your rotational is only marginally better, at best.  And you have at least as many question marks at the Mets.  Sure, those questions have turned out to be exclamation points in the past, but this is a different year.  Maybe Hamels was a one-hit wonder, and will continue to be merely pedestrian.  Blanton has never been anything special, and Moyer had a hot spring, but is hardly a reliable product in the rotation.  Happ is the one thing to hold on to, in that he had a really good year in his time up last year.  There is no guarantee that that will continue, that he won’t get figured out by the league and fail to adjust, that he won’t suffer the sophomore curse.

Pedro Feliz was such a solid feature at third base that I just don’t buy that Polanco is anything more than a lateral move at best.  Your bullpen is extremely suspect, and while you do have a potent offense, the Mets did match you in runs scored prior to the injury-plagued 2009.   This offseason you lock up a couple of your players to long term contracts, and coupled with letting Lee go, it’s apparent you don’t have the money to fill any holes that arrive this season.

So, while you get many props for winning the division in previous years, the calendar has turned and that buys you nothing in 2010.  You’re at the top of the hill but you’re teetering at the edge.  All it would take is one misstep, or one good push, for you to go tumbling back to obscurity.

While I’ve enjoyed having a real rival that’s both geographical close and in the same league, I don’t know if you can keep it up for long enough for us to say that Mets-Phillies is better than Yankees-Red Sox and really mean it.  The Mets have some minor injuries to start the season, so you should take advantage of it while you still can.  If you can’t start getting ahead in the race, the Mets will steamroll right by you when they’re back to full strength.

It’s going to be a fun and combative year.  Can you handle it?

Your bitter enemy,

Optimistic Mets Fan

Letters to the NL East, Part 3/5

(To read past year’s letters, click here)

Letters to the NL East, Part 3 of 5. (part 1, part 2)


Dear Atlanta Braves,

Oh how the mighty have fallen! I barely even have any ill will towards you anymore.  It’s been five years since you won the division and it’s been a long five years.  You don’t appear to have the tools to make it this year either, although the rotation does have some promising young arms in it.  Had you not traded Vazquez, I’d almost be worried.

I don’t have a lot of faith in your bullpen holding up long term, as it feels like you downgraded there as well.  Your offense has long been a weak point, and it probably still will be barring Heyward having a rookie season to rival Pujols and Reyes for the MVP and Larry Jones being healthy enough for the entire season.

You’re one of those middling teams that no one really wants to play because you’re not a push over, but you’re also not good enough for a rivalry either.  Just boring.  It’ll be interesting to see if you guys finish above .500 this year or not, and maybe you can help out the Mets a little by playing the Phillies hard.

One thing for sure, Bobby Cox is not getting another title before retiring this year.  Maybe you should’ve beaten the Yankees another time in the 90s.  Oh well.

Your former rival,

Optimistic Mets Fan

Feel free to head over to The Real Dirty Mets Blog for discussion.  Once the season finally starts, I’ll be contributing (at least) a weekly Optimism Report over there.