Links From Metsopotamia

Shannon at Metspolice notices a decrease in Mets related traffic and twittering and ponders if anyone’s still here.  Well, I am.  It’s still baseball, it’s still the Mets, it’s still Citi Field.  I’m going to at least two more games this year.  I’m going to enjoy watching Duda seem to become a serious major league slugger, watching Reyes and Wright be Reyes and Wright, and looking for signs from guys like Bay, Pagan, Thole, Parnell, etc to see what we can do about next year.  You know you’re going to spend all offseason yelling about some of these guys, at least be informed and see how they finish the season with your own eyes.

Kerel of On The Black discusses Google Plus (add me to your circle if you like) and how well it worked for his weekly Mets chat with Dave Doyle of Mets Report.
Randy at The Apple says a humorous goodbye to the err, umm.. *pickastadiumname* the Marlins play in. 

In a fanpost at Amazin’ Avenue, nerfan breaks down the top 10 completely wrong arguments about the Mets.  Also known as ‘debunking sports radio’.

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The Math: Optimism For .500

The Mets struggled a bit and saw their good season start to crumble as they lost game after game to fall well below the .500 mark.  Now they’ve picked it up again, it’s worth taking a look to see what they need to do to finish at 81-81.

 

There are thirty games left.  The Mets are 64-68, and need to go 17-13 the rest of the way to hit .500.

 

There are good reasons to expect that the Mets can do just that.  One is that Jose Reyes is back.  Having him in the lineup at the expense of either Tejada or Turner will make a big difference, especially once he’s got a game or two under his belt to get warmed up.  It’s not just Reyes; Duda has been hitting the ball well and making a case for 2012.  Nick Evans has put together a nice little stretch here.  They haven’t been scoring a ton of runs, but they’re getting the job done and most everyone is contributing.

 

Another is that rosters expand on Thursday.  If you look closely at this season, you’ll see that the biggest stretches of losing coincided with the bullpen pitching poorly.  Usually that was closely correlated to the bullpen being overworked.  With an expanded roster and a couple more relievers floating around, that shouldn’t be a problem.

 

The Mets have stumbled a couple of times, but for most of the season they’ve played slightly above .500.   All it takes is a little bit of a streak, a couple of hot bats, and some timely hits.  17-13 is certainly doable.   The competition is certainly not going to be a problem.  The Mets have a lot of games against some sub-par teams that are as far out of it as they are, and there is no reason they can’t win those games.

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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.

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NL MVP vs AL Cy Young, Vote Reyes, DePodesta Recap

Couple of noteworthy things to look at today.  The first is the Mets are playing a day game today at 1:05.  The potential National League MVP, Jose Reyes, will leadoff the game against the potential American League Cy Young, Justin Verlander.  Should be a fun day.  The Mets won the first game on a blowout, the second on a slugfest, could the third be a pitcher’s duel?  Is Mike Pelfrey up for it?

Secondly today we need to get #votereyes trending on Twitter and also to vote for Reyes as many times as we can.  It would be a travesty if Reyes was not the starting shortstop for the National League.   While you’re voting, throw in some votes for Carlos Beltran too.  On the American League side Asdrubal Cabrera deserves your vote, especially as he’s currently being led by a player having a poor season that’s on the disabled list in Derek Jeter.  Mike Francesa thinks the All-Star Game should be Jeter’s personal 3000 hit celebration, which is even more fodder.  Also, Alex Avila deserves your vote for AL Catcher. 

Thirdly, last night a bunch of bloggers talked with Paul DePodesta and Michael Baron of Metsblog kindly put up a transcript.  I’m sure there are couple of other breakdowns out there too.

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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!

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Jose Reyes: An Easy Decision

This was originally a comment to a Mets Police post about ripping the Trade Reyes bandaid off, but I decided it deserved a post of it’s own. 

It’s really a simple decision.  Franchise players like Jose Reyes are very valuable, and it’d be especially silly to let him get away for anything but an absolute steal of a package, and even then I’d be reluctant.   This isn’t fantasy baseball; I, and other fans, develop emotional attachment to players and there is value and revenue in that.

Sign Reyes, and you keep a franchise player that the fanbase loves and will define and promote your franchise for, and this isn’t an exaggeration, 60+ years.  Keep one of the best players in the game at a premium position of which there is nothing close available on the market or in the minors. Finish the season at or above .500, regardless of if they can make a playoff push or not.   Have people believing 2012 will be better, that we’re already into year two of the ‘rebuilding’ process and things are good and people are buying season tickets.  The Mets (not the Wilpons) problem is not so much debt is it trying to get the revenue stream back above the level of what a competitive payroll is.  To do this they have to keep people interested in the Mets and coming to the park.  Who’s more interesting than Jose Reyes right now?

Or you can trade him or let him walk away, and finish below .500.  Show people that this is year one of the demolition process before rebuilding starts. Watch no one pay any attention to the Mets all offseason, and no one buy season tickets, or renew season tickets.  2.5million fans this year becomes 1.5million fans next year, and in 2013, and in 2014.. prices come down because no one’s going, revenue drops as a result, less demand on advertising space drops revenue there as well.  SNY becomes the Food Network; sure you’ll flip it on once in a while and see what’s cookin’, but it’s not worth DVRing.  In an age when it’s so very very easy to watch any team in the league, and with the Mets unwatchable, many fans start half-following the Giants or wherever Reyes ends up playing.  If MLB.TV existed when the Mets traded Seaver, how many Mets fans do you think would’ve purchased it to watch him pitch?  In 2013 the Mets sell out the Giants series at Citi with the stands awash of really faded Black Mets 7 shirts. The next series against the Phillies is empty, no one wants to see two bad teams play.  Citi Field feels empty without #7.

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The Mets Are Confident

Over a month ago I wrote about the Mets breeding confidence with a big win. For all the talk of how the Mets haven’t been involved in any walk-off wins or losses this year, the only thing stopping that one was that they were on the road.  After falling behind 3-2 in the bottom of the 8th, the Mets rallied for four runs to win 6-3.  It was the game with the Hu sac-fly to tie it, perhaps the best moment of Hu’s Mets career.   Yesterday suggested that the Mets may in fact believe in themselves.

They’d come off a very tough loss the night before with a lot of bad luck and bloops and they were getting some of that same bad luck early.  Pelfrey struggled.  Except for Justin Turner the night before the Mets hadn’t hit a home run since Mike Piazza retired and were barely scoring runs.   All that didn’t stop Carlos Beltran from striding to the place and smashing a home run well over the left field fence to get the game to 7-3.  From there the Mets did what they could, with a lot of help from the Pirates, to tie the game and eventually take the lead 9-7 and the 9-8 win.

The Mets believe they can win games.  They believe they’re a talented team, injuries or not.  Terry Collins believes it too; whether or not his tirade in the post-game conference the other day had any motivating benefits to it, it wasn’t fake. 

Just believing in yourself is not enough to win baseball games, but doubting yourself or your team can lead to losses in games like yesterday.  Opportunities for wins can come at the strangest times and places, but a team needs to be prepared to capitalize.   This one come from behind win doesn’t forgive letting leads get away in the other games during this homestand by not making pitches or catches, but hopefully it helps the players believe that they CAN make those pitches and win baseball games.

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Eating With Bloggers: A Citi Field Food Tour

Monday night I, and many of your other favorite bloggers, was invited out to Citi Field for a Mets game, and a pre-game tour of Mets concessions and clubs with Scott Kleckner, Resident District Manager, Sports & Entertainment for Aramark.  It did not disappoint.  We ate.  A lot.

 

Obviously the Keith’s Burger that I wrote about earlier in the season was included.  We learned that it’s doing very well, and will likely become a permanent fixture in the future much like the Pastrami sandwich (which we also sampled) was tested last year.   I love that the Mets and Aramark are trying out new things and never satisfied with the status quo.  At Shea the most exciting change you could look forward to was if they changed burger suppliers.

 

Here’s a shot of the bloggers enjoying a slice of Margherita style pizza at Cascarino’s.

Cascarino’s was chosen in part because it’s local.  It’s right there on College Point Blvd and so local that if you could get pizza delivered to Citi Field, Cascarino’s is close enough to do so.

 

Speaking of local fare, I brought up the departed Brooklyn Brewery beers.  Without getting anything explicitly confirmed, it was made pretty clear that Budweiser can exert a ton of pressure financially over what beers are available.  It was also suggested that Brooklyn Brewery may not be gone forever. (besides the cans of lager that remain) Right now the only true local beer available to the masses is Blue Point Toasted Lager at Catch of the Day.  There’s also a tap of Sixpoint Sweet Action (and some Ommegang. Honestly, given it’s Cooperstown affiliation, EVERY ballpark should have some of it) in the Delta Sky Club, but that’s obviously a limited access area.

 

Perhaps the best thing we ate all night: An eggplant parmigiana sandwich.  It was delicious: perfectly breaded with tasty sauce and excellent bread.  I highly recommend it if you have a chance to be in the Delta Sky Club, or if they end up offering it elsewhere.

 

We also sampled the new fried chicken sandwich from Blue Smoke, which was my second favorite taste of the day.  I’m not a big seafood eater, so I passed on the Po’Boy and Flounder at Catch of the Day, but everyone else liked it.  I did have a handful of popcorn shrimp, which were definitely tasty but I’ll second Rob Castellano of Amazin’ Avenue in wishing there was some dipping sauces with them.  The final thing we tasted was a new appetizer in the Delta Sky Club.  It was some hot dog bites, basically a small hot dog dipped in panko breading.  It was good, but nothing to really write home about.

 

Check out some of these other write ups while you’re at it, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter.

http://www.ontheblack.com/2011/05/17/video-diary-citi-field-food-beverage-operations/

http://www.amazinavenue.com/2011/5/17/2174894/citi-field-food-mets-eat

http://www.kranepoolsociety.com/2011/05/17/a-great-night-of-food-tasting-at-citi-field-and-a-seat-in-the-press-box-for-desert/

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A Blogger Chat With Sandy Alderson

This evening a selection of bloggers had a second conference call with Mets general manager Sandy Alderson.  The first one took place in December. There were a lot of great questions asked, and I’m sure there will be a full recap around the blogosphere.  For now, the response to my question, followed by links to the other bloggers’ write-ups that I will update as I see them.



I asked Alderson how active he would be with transactions this season, in particular with regards to the second base or bullpen candidates that “just missed” making the team.

He explained that once these final decisions are made in Spring Training, a lot of that possible depth in the bullpen goes away.  Guys may have to be offered back if they’re rule 5 picks, or they may choose to opt out of their contracts or just retire.  The depth in the bullpen would most likely be Igarashi, although the Mets are pretty deep at second base.  He stressed the importance of making sure guys are given a chance to perform and not go into every game like it could be their last.  I feel like this is a big upgrade from last year; despite the ultimate results, I didn’t think it was fair for guys like John Maine and Oliver Perez to have it constantly held over their head that they were pitching for their careers to the point that Jerry Manuel actually publicly contemplated removing Maine from the rotation without ever mentioning it to him.

This is a good philosophy to have, but I wonder if it may be a little naive.  After all, it’s not usually the manager and GM that are holding the axe over a players head, it’s the fans and sports radio.  Mike Jacobs and Frank Catalanotto only got 28 and 26 plate appearances  respectively before being cast away, and it seems like the fans were calling for their heads long before that.  Obviously the first base position took a rough turn when Murphy got hit with an injury days before the Opener, but what amounts to seven or eight games is hardly a telling sample size.  Ultimately getting Ike Davis on the Mets, particularly when Murphy experienced a setback in recovery, was a good move but that doesn’t mean Jacobs or Catalanotto got a real fair shot to contribute.

Two quick things I took note of during the call.  One is that there is still a chance Nick Evans makes this team, regardless of what happens with Beltran.  The other is it seemed like Sandy’s biggest test for Jose Reyes is his on base percentage, and that if he can raise that, he’ll be resigned.  I’m confident both will happen.

Transcript Courtesy of Michael Baron

Mets Blog

On The Black

Faith and Fear in Flushing

Mets Police

Amazin’ Avenue

The Real Dirty Mets Blog

NJ.com’s Matthew Artus

Mets Today

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