Mets Fill In The Blank

If the Mets announce ______ I would praise them and think it’s a good step towards a successful year.


Currently it seems like no matter what the Mets do, whether it’s express interest, express dismay at prices, suggest that a guy’s not a good fit, or ponder giving a current Met off a bad season another shot they get resounded mocked and killed for it.


Sure, they’ve earned it. The results speak for themselves and whether or not you trust the plan, they’ve reached the point where they really need to put the money where their mouth is. That said, they do HAVE a plan, and it’s one they’re not articulating, no matter what rumors and leaks you hear. Talking about the plan hurts the effectiveness of the plan.


Of course, no matter how much money the Mets say they have to spend, they have all offseason to build the roster. Whether or not they spend $20, $5, or even $40 million on the payroll is irrelevant to the actual makeup of the team on 3/31/14. If that team looks like a team that can win more than 81 games, then perhaps they’ll earn some good will. It’s silly to criticize the entire painting when the artist has only drawn two lines on a piece of canvas. You may be extremely skeptical that it’s going to turn into anything resembling art, but until it does, it has the potential. Until Sandy Alderson has crafted the entire roster, it’s silly to judge each individual move, or even each rumor, as some sort of disaster. As much as you like or dislike the Mets decision makers, they DO know more about baseball and player evaluation than we do.


As with all teams, it’s winning that matters. If the Mets are winning consistently and fighting for a playoff spot, the fans and interest will come and people will at least momentarily forget about payroll numbers and financial crises. The offseason provides little else to talk about, so that’s what we get. You don’t have to believe in the Mets, but baseball tends to turn out way differently than anyone expects. Every year players succeed where everyone assumes they’ll fail, and fail where fans are comfortable in them succeeding. No one really thought much of Scott Hairston, or Marlon Byrd, or R.A. Dickey when they were signed, but they ended up making big contributions.


If you want to roll your eyes and make jokes, that’s fine. It’s a long offseason and the hot stove season is often full of lots of silliness. Just remember that there are a billion rumors and most of them mean nothing. GMs, owners, “persons with knowledge of the situation” all have their own agendas and telling you the truth about every plan they have is not one of them. Sometimes a lot of small moves that seem meaningless end up working together to make a fairly solid team. Other times seemingly solid moves end up in injury or poor production and the money is as good as not spent. There are a lot of moving parts to the Met roster this offseason, and it just seems silly to assume where they’re going to land, how they’re going to do, and then mock them for it.

Mets Final Weekend, Oktoberfest, Piazza

It’s here. The last weekend of Mets baseball before it slinks off into the off-season of unsubstantiated rumors and financial allusions.


I’ll be at two of the games. Tonight, the Mets are doing their Oktoberfest. I get a cool glass Mets boot stein, which is worth the admission to the event, but I’m not hopeful that they’ll have anything special in terms of beer. There are so many local Oktoberfest beers to choose from, and even some Anheuser-Busch InBev ones like Spaten, but chances are they won’t be specially acquiring beer for a small event on the final Friday of the season. Perhaps if the Mets were to clinch a playoff spot one day, we can rally them to add fall seasonals to the selection. Either way, I’ll write up my thoughts next week.


I’ll be rooting for the Mets. I know that seems to  be a contrary opinion these days, as many are obsessing over the Mets losing to get a better and/or protected draft pick. Not me. I root for the Mets to win, and I don’t cherry pick one specific aspect as the only path towards competitiveness. Sure, getting the protected pick makes things easier this offseason, but one pick who may or may not ever play in the majors some years from now is not going to make or break the Mets.  Certainly not enough for me to root against the Mets winning. The Mets might not target, or acquire, a free agent that requires sacrificing the pick. Draft picks are a consolation prize, not a goal.  It ignores the short term enjoyment for the long term projections, something I never agree with. You can sacrifice the present for the hope of the future endlessly, and never get there. It feels too similar to the idea that you should lose as badly as possible as much as possible until you’re in the best position to get really good, really fast. That seems too much like the Marlins methods for me to like.


Mike Piazza will be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame Sunday, and I’ll be on hand for that too. Maybe the baseball Hall will get around to the same thing next year, but until then we’ll honor him as a Met because he’s one of our greats. They really should be retiring 31 too, and I’m not really sure why they aren’t. (And there’s a case for 15,16 and 17 as well) At least we’ll probably get another chance to honor Piazza next year when he’s inducted and then maybe the Mets have a retired number ceremony.


And then that’s it. The players go home. Citi Field goes dark. We start counting until pitchers and catchers.


The Islanders first game is next Friday.


The Mazzy Awards

The third annual Mazzy Awards were held Saturday night at Donovan’s Pub in Woodside. No matter what other activities you’re interested in to pass the time between last out and first pitch, you miss your baseball pals. The men, women, and baseball-headed mascots that make up so much of your life from the time when pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie and the final strike of the season. Alas, Mr. Met couldn’t make it this year, but maybe next time..


When you have the opportunity to help honor fellow fans and bloggers and talk baseball on a quiet night in January, you do it. No one takes themselves too seriously, it was just a fun way to whittle away the offseason, but Shannon and Keith both did an amazing job setting up and executing these awards. High quality video streams, a private room for us, official envelopes and even bobblehead award statues. Everyone agreed that they should make it an annual event; next year I hope you join us.


Hanging out with a beer or two with fellow Mets fans talking sports, Hall of Fame, old wax cups at Shea Stadium and even television almost made you feel like it was baseball season again. If you listened carefully you could almost hear Howie Rose describing the new blue uniforms as the Mets jogged out to take their places on the field.

Reporters and Analysts are Only Guessing

Hope everyone’s on the recovery path from Sandy. I finally got my power and heat back yesterday afternoon, and managed to fill up my car with gas, so I guess it’s back to business as usual here.


We’ve got General Manager meetings coming up in baseball and we’ve passed the point of options being picked up and exclusive negotiating windows with expiring contracts, so it’s open season on free agents.  There isn’t a ton to write about that’s not speculation and rumor, but there are outlets that are obligated, or feel obligated, to put out posts and columns.  Sometimes I suspect less is more when it comes to news and reporting, but that’s a thought for another time.


Remember that there are always surprises, that things aren’t always what they seem, and that unexpected trades and acquisitions happen all the time. No team is more active than the Mystery Team.  So try not to take anything you read too seriously regarding the hot stove season. When there are no games being played it becomes very easy for one well-read writer to muse about a player being a good fit for a team and it to catch wildfire and be talked about all over the world. The Internet is often one big game of telephone when it comes to these things.


One person could write about Cody Ross being a good fit for a team, and before you know it there are a dozen blog posts breaking down how the lineup will look with him in it. The shear quantity of talk seems to lend credence to acquisition even though the team in question might not even have talked to the player’s agent.  There are hundreds of different ways a GM can put together a roster, and it’s never exactly how anyone guesses.  Although if you want to take your own stab at guessing, Amazin’ Avenue’s AAOP would be a good way to go.


Some people enjoy this speculation and enjoy copying spray charts for a slugger onto his projected new team’s ballpark, rearranging their divisional predictions, and comparing lineups across the league.  They see it as a giant jigsaw puzzle that can be assembled in many different ways, and take joy out of finding the best picture. Don’t take this enjoyment for anything more than the time-killing exercise that it is.  Taking offseason speculation too seriously is how you end up pissed at a general manager or owner for not acquiring a player 10 years ago that they may not have even had a chance to sign.


Specifically with the Mets, no one really knows what Sandy Alderson is planning for this year, or the future.  It’s not hard to find articles about keeping Wright, trading Wright, offering him lots of money and only offering him just enough to hedge against failure.  You can find columns basically asserting that the Mets will trade R.A. Dickey anytime from now through the trade deadline and also mentions of signing him to multiple years beyond this one.  You can find columns suggesting the Mets will make big moves, if not big signings, this offseason, and others telling you to expect roughly the same team back.  Although I suspect the people telling you the Mets won’t do anything and you should ignore anyone that’s going to make more than two million are just trying to narrow the focus of the work and speculation they have to do this offseason.


To me, the only thing certain about the Mets in 2013 is that we can’t be certain about the Mets in 2013.

That’s a Wrap: Top Optimism for the Offseason

As with most seasons, the ending is bittersweet. I’ll miss Mets baseball, but the ending means they’ll be back to even next time we watch, dreaming and hoping on 2013.  It’s a long month of playoffs before much will happen with the Mets in terms of real signings, trades and acquisitions but that provides the perfect backdrop to spend some time reflecting on what went right in 2012 and gives us hope.


It’s all doublespeak right now, but many things seem to point to the Mets wanting to keep David Wright and David Wright wanting to stay.


R.A. Dickey may win a Cy Young, and is cost-controlled for next year.  Sure he’s got an injury, but it’s not likely to affect his 2013 season.  He’s been amazing as a Met and I suspect we have at least another year of that.


Ike Davis shook off his injury-shortened 2011 and a disastrous start to have a pretty terrific last four months.  Those four months weren’t without their own issues at times, but if he could simply extend those four months through 2013, he’d be a huge part of the Mets offense.


Bobby Parnell was the best Mets reliever this season, taking a nice step forward and really doing some very good work.  Best Mets reliever is a low bar this season, but Parnell had the best ERA on the team, minimum 20 IP.


Johan Santana‘s no-hitter will forever be the highlight of 2012.  He dealt with some bumps and bruises and then tailed off pretty badly, but his first half suggests that he’s still capable of being a good pitcher.  There is some hope that with the period of rest this offseason without rehab and trying to build up his arm he’ll have a strong 2013.


Jon Niese pitched a full and complete season, and was very very good.  According to Baseball Reference, Niese’s best pitcher comparison is Gio Gonzalez.  Niese will only be 26 next year, and has a very reasonable contract going forward.   I don’t advocating trading talented pitchers, but any way you look at it, Niese is extremely valuable.


Matt Harvey and the Mets farm system is showing a lot of promise on the pitching front.  In his limited appearances this year, Matt Harvey had the best ERA on the team outside of Bobby Parnell.  60 innings isn’t a ton, but then again it’s almost roughly how many innings the average reliever pitches all year and we make all sorts of judgments off that.  The Mets have a couple of other guys that look like they could contribute valuable innings next season, and that should hopefully means the Mets have a pitching strength in 2013 and can focus on improving the offense.


The Mets won 74 games.  Things are clearly not all rosy right now, but that’s not to say they’re without hope.  These are just a few obvious examples, but there are plenty of players that will come out of the blue next year to contribute.  Things aren’t nearly as bleak as some might make them out to be this offseason.

Missing the Mets From Afar

I knew I wasn’t missing a pennant race two weeks ago when I took off for Europe, but I also knew I’d miss the Mets anyway.  Whether the season is good or bad, it’s still Mets baseball and it flies by way too fast. Sacrificing nearly 20 games to travel, no matter how awesome that travel is, is a bummer.  Watching baseball again after that type of layoff feels like Spring Training, but it’s going to be yanked away from me before I even get back into it.


It’s interesting coming back to just three meaningless games against the Marlins before being Mets-less until Spring Training.   I felt myself mentally wrapping up the season before I left, despite the Mets still having a bunch of games to play.  Now I flip on the Mets games at seven as usual, hungry for some baseball and although it feels great, I know it’s just a tease.  I’ll get three likely forgettable Mets games and then a month of playoff baseball not featuring the Mets and that’s barely enough baseball to sustain me through the long winter.


It’s not just the impending offseason that hurts; I missed some memorable Mets games while I was gone.  David Wright became the Mets franchise leader in hits, and while it was all but inevitable going into the second half of the season, it’d have been nice to see the games as they happened.  The other big one is obviously R.A. Dickey‘s 20th win.  Pitcher wins don’t mean much in the evaluation department, but seeing your pitchers accumulating them is never a bad thing. There’s history and emotion tied to the stat that even when you know it’s not hugely important it still tugs at the emotions to see Dickey be the first Met to 20 wins in over 20 years.  At least, it would’ve been if I wasn’t in Prague for it.  I peeked at Twitter before I went to bed that night, which was just after the game NY time, and was disappointed I didn’t get to share in all the excitement and celebration of it.  Living and breathing the Cy Young race with Dickey and watching the other candidates is fun too, and I mostly missed it.


So I’m going to savor and enjoy these last games like a well-cooked steak knowing that it’ll be my last good meal until March.  One more R.A. Dickey start to make his case for the Cy Young.   18, barring extras, glorious Mets innings filled with David Wright, Ike Davis and all the rest of them.  The Jeurys Familia debut start last night.  All some fun stuff to watch and I’m not going to miss a minute of it.


Baseball’s Over, Time For Vegas

Disclaimer: I’ve truly left for the airport.  If the Mets do something crazy like play a 20 inning final game and are still playing at the time I’ve scheduled this, read this tomorrow.


I find it somewhat poetic that as the Mets threw the last pitch of their 2011 season I was arriving at JFK to board a flight to Las Vegas to gamble and drink the sorrows of the season away.   Last year I got married within a week of the end of the season and went on my honeymoon shortly after.  When I got back to paying attention to the Mets Omar and Jerry were gone and the Phillies and Yankees had been eliminated from the playoffs.


I’ll still be posting some, mostly scheduled stuff, but here’s what I want to happen while I’m gone.  The Phillies and Yankees are bounced in the first round and I can enjoy the rest of the playoffs when I get back from vacation.  Dan Warthen has been let go, in favor of someone that’s going to be better.  The Mets have worked out a deal with Jose Reyes, and he’ll remain a Met for a long time.   Johan Santana has pitched some in winter ball and has no set backs.


This probably all won’t come to be, but one can dream.  After I’m in Vegas I’ll be in San Diego for a couple of days.  It’ll be my third trip to that city and I have yet to see a game at Petco Park.  I’ve toured it though, and it’s a great place.  Look for randomly tweeted pictures from around Petco next week during the day.  I’ll return the following weekend for a bachelor party, a wedding, and my own anniversary before diving back into baseball.  It’s going to be an interesting offseason for the New York Mets this year.

Free Falling

The Mets have been in a free fall, plummeting towards worthlessness and erasing all the good will they achieved this season. It’s not totally their fault; They’ve been struck with a lot of injuries, and Sandy Alderson traded two expendable, but useful, parts for prospects once it was obvious the Mets weren’t going to make a real run at the playoffs. Still, despite the occasional fight they show, they’ve also showed a fair amount of looking flat too. They misplay balls, take bad approaches at the plate, and make bad decisions.

Take last night’s game. The Mets got guys on bases with plenty of opportunity, and turned around and let Worley off the hook. They refused to swing the bat and struck out five times looking, all with runners in scoring position. They worked Worley, but as soon as they gave up the lead they made 12 consecutive outs letting Worley go deeper in the game than he probably should’ve. They misplayed balls in the outfield and made bad throws.

This isn’t to say the Mets have quit. They look more depressed than disinterested. They press and make desperation plays or throws, or look almost fearful at the plate. The word I would use is lost. They look like they don’t know what to do, and have lost some of the routine and instinct that guides most baseball play in an effort to try to do too much.

You can see the effects already. People talk about the Mets as if they’re a horrible disaster of a team, despite playing competitively for a good chunk of the year. The stories about financial disaster are back, false rumors about not being able to spend money and sign players. They’re writing off 2012 without having any idea what will happen with the prospects or free agents this offseason.

Just like the Mets bounced back from 5-13 early, they’ll bounce back from this as well. They won’t play this badly the rest of the way, and that last month will set a tone and provide a lot of info about the off-season direction they need to take. But they have erased much of the goodwill they got for playing hard and being resilient during the midseason. Some may write a positive story overall about the season, but most will dismiss the Mets as anything worth thinking about no matter how this season ends.


Faith and Fear in Flushing also has a post today, as probably many Mets bloggers do, about free falling and not being able to get up.  Great minds thinking alike and all that.

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.