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A (non-blank) post about some good things on the Mets

photo by CeetarDavid Wright.

 

The Mets are not this bad, nor were they as good as they looked against the Yankees, although in my opinion they didn’t look that great in that series.

 

Daniel Murphy. Yes he made an error at a costly point in the game, but he’s played pretty solidly all around this year.

 

They’ve already started rectifying some of the problem by getting rid of Rick Ankiel, a bad player. Kirk Nieuwenhuis showed some promise last season, and it’d be silly to give up on him at this point. He looked good in the minors this year, limiting the strikeouts and drawing a fair share of walks. Him bringing this improvement to the majors would go a long way towards the Mets scoring runs. Ike Davis has been sent away to figure things out, perhaps he’ll also return with less strikeouts.

 

Lucas Duda. He’s not perfect, and he’s not the prototypical slugger his build suggests he is, but he’s drawing walks and hitting the ball hard.

 

Juan Lagares has shown some signs lately of shaking off the struggles he showed when he first came up. Perhaps he’s gotten settled in and will start driving the ball and contributing to the offense. He’s a good defensive center fielder, so some offense would go a long way towards adding value.

 

Bobby Parnell, despite being a bit off recently, has been a very solid reliever for the Mets for at least a year and a half now.

 

Zack Wheeler is eminent. Whether development, arbitration status, or outstanding debts at a Vegas casino was keeping him down, Wheeler’s time in the minors is coming to a close. It’d be unfair to hold him to the standard Matt Harvey set on his debut last year, but all accounts have Wheeler as an extremely talented pitcher, and slotting him into this rotation will have a positive effect.

 

Matt Harvey.

 

Travis d’Arnaud is out of his boot and ready to being the rehab process towards getting back into games. He’s missed a lot of time over the last two seasons, so likely he’ll need some time in the minors first, but the Mets have a huge hole at catcher that he will fill quite nicely.

 

There are a lot of problems, but don’t let them blind you. There’s some good things too. Sure, they don’t make up for the issues this team has, even if all goes right from here on out. Still, the Mets are taking further steps towards identifying the problems, and knowing the problems is the first step towards finding a solution.

June 11th, 2013 by Ceetar in 2013, Baseball, Mets
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Winning While Slumping: A Rant

image by CeetarTeams slump. The Mets were leading the league in runs per game and suddenly the offense slumped and they started losing. They’re now 6th in runs score in MLB. The Mets are still auditioning center and right fielders with no one standing out, Ruben Tejada and Ike Davis have under performed, and we knew John Buck was not that good.

 

All teams slump, good ones, great ones, and horrible ones. It’s too early to say which the Mets are, and it’s certainly silly to take the results of the last week as more meaningful than the first couple just because it fits better with what you expected, but good teams should find a way to win at least some games while they’re slumping. The Phillies are probably not a great team, and getting swept by them is not a good sign. There were plenty of opportunities that the Mets let get away, and while it’s possible to do everything right and still lose, it’s also possible to steal games when you’re struggling.

 

John Buck, Ike Davis, and a couple of others muffed a couple of foul outs that could’ve been converted. Not all of them led directly to runs, but all the extended innings and extra pitches lead to things like tired arms or more bullpen. Pitchers made a couple of poor pitches on top of poor pitches that led to runs. Perhaps Terry Collins could’ve been more aggressive, or less aggressive, in pitching changes or lineup changes that ended up costing the Mets a better shot at winning. Like most losing streaks, there are a billion second guesses of the players, the manager, and the overall strategy.

 

Sometimes the bounces go the wrong way, the pitcher you choose has a bad day, or the pitch you guess is simply wrong. Those are the breaks, the notorious 50 games that every team loses and there is nothing you can do about. Teams destined for the playoffs will find ways to minimize the damage while they’re slumping. Sometimes a pitcher will pitch a gem and stifle the opponent enough to steal a win with only a run or two, other times a batter here or there will capitalize on the one bad pitch the opponent throws for a 3-run home run to win the game 3-2 even though the offense only managed three hits. This avoids sweeps and turns 1-2 series losses into 2-1 series wins. When the slump end the team will only have gone 4-6 instead of 2-8 and can use a surge in fortune to get ahead of the competition instead of making up for the ground they lost during the slump.

 

So far the Mets are not doing this. That’s not to say they can’t. Lucas Duda, Ike Davis, and David Wright are all talented enough to have game-changing at bats even amidst personal or team slumps. Matt Harvey and Jon Niese are talented pitchers, both capable of pitching a gem that wins a game despite slumping offense. Jon Niese came close Sunday, and perhaps Terry Collins should’ve left him in to finish the seventh instead of going to the bullpen to face Ryan Howard. I’m always a fan of having the top players on my team on the mound or at the plate during the critical points in the game, and that was certainly one of them.

 

It’s early yet, and the teams that win in April are not a lock to get to October. If the Mets are going to grow into a competitor, they’re going to have to find a way to minimize long losing streaks and win some of these games when things aren’t going perfectly.

April 29th, 2013 by Ceetar in 2013, Baseball, Mets
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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.

October 4th, 2012 by Ceetar in 2012, 2013, Baseball, Mets
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Hope For Next Year and Ticket Contest Winner

Congratulations to Amanda for winning the final pair of Mets tickets this season.  Thanks to Seatcrew, the no-fee ticket marketplace, for providing them.

 

Let’s break down some of the optimistic submissions on what in 2012 we should be thankful for looking forward, starting with Amanda’s (and many others) response.

DAVID WRIGHT!!! :)

 

Yes, he hasn’t had a great second half, but David Wright is worthy of at least one smilie face this year. He’s having one of his best season ever, is playing great defense, and is about to become the franchise leader in hits.  Don’t go anywhere David.  Ever.

Todd writes:

It’s a toss up between Matt Harvey and Ike Davis. I really feel that Matt Harvey is going to be the future ace of the team, with a little more grooming he and Dickey can be on of the best 1-2s in the bigs

I already mentioned Ike Davis.  Matt Harvey has definitely looked good though.  It’s a pretty limited sample size, but it’s hard not to dream on what this power pitcher can do for us next year.  A couple of people mentioned the rotation.  It’s definitely looking like a strength for the 2013 Mets right now.

 

Those were the big responses.  As much as that highlights some optimism, it also accents the places the Mets need to improve: bullpen and outfield.

 

 

 

September 10th, 2012 by Ceetar in 2012, 2013, Baseball, Mets
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These Mets Are Not Finished

The Mets have been bouncing around between just good enough and mediocre for most of the season now.  They’ve been unable to take that next step to great, but they’ve also never fallen off the cliff towards bad and it’d be foolish to read into their current state, again, as the beginning of the end unless you’re more concerned with your preseason predictions being correct than with how the Mets are actually doing.

 

There are plenty of times that if the season were to end the Mets would’ve been in the playoffs.  Some as recent as four games ago.  Losing three to a division rival is a rough way to start the second half, but it’s hardly the end of the world.   The Mets are actually only 4 and 5 against the Braves this year.  Those first three games are as important to the standings as these last three.  The Mets will clearly need to made some adjustments, play better, and have some better luck to win more games. These are all things the Mets have proved able to do.  R.A. Dickey and Johan Santana are human, apparently.  Everyone slumps.

 

Everyone streaks too.  Santana and Dickey will have other stretches of dominance.  Other players will get hits, pitch well, catch the ball and beat the opposition.  The Mets will win again.

 

If I were to judge this Mets team at this point, I’d say it might be a 50% chance they make the playoffs.  If the season happens to end while they’re on a hot streak, they’ll likely be in.  If not, they’ll likely miss out.  The margin of error may be that small, which was also the case in the series in Atlanta.  The Mets number one goal for the second half is to create situations where they have a margin for error.   Multiple run leads when the bullpen is struggling.  Less walks so that one error or poorly defended ball doesn’t lead to runs.  Most importantly, getting into playoff position and building a lead so every loss isn’t a possible elimination event.

 

 

July 16th, 2012 by Ceetar in 2012, Baseball, Mets, Mets-Braves rivalry, Pitching
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Upcoming Mets Schedule Is Not A Big Deal

Supposedly the Mets have a difficult schedule coming up.  To think this is some make or break period though is a little silly.  All games count, but there is still so much time left after these games that they don’t quite mean that much in the grand course of the schedule, unless they did something crazy like win 25, or 75, percent of them.  I suspect what people are really saying when they tell you about the difficult schedule is that if the Mets can get through another stretch of games and stay in the playoff picture, they’ll start believing.

 

I say you believe now.  It’s more fun.  Still, let’s take a look at this so-called difficult schedule. (The New York Football Giants laugh at your strength of schedule arguments btw)  Carlos Beltran and the St. Louis Cardinal are next.  They’re pretty good, although one game worse than the Mets so far.  Nationals up after that, who are leading the division right now but merely 1.5 games up.  This is the biggest series of the bunch, for obvious reason.

 

Then it’s interleague play, which always matters less because the opposing team is not competing for the same playoff spot.  The Yankees are currently 1.5 games worse than the Mets and the Rays are only one better. The Reds have one less loss than the Mets and the Mets have already split two with them, and the Orioles are a team picked to finish last like the Mets. (that should be a fun one if they’re both in first)

 

Not to say this isn’t a tough stretch, but these teams are not teams that are playing better than the Mets, they’re teams playing much like the Mets. Equal competition, not better, unless you’re a non-believer.  The only teams truly dominating right now are the Rangers in the AL West, and the Dodgers who the Mets will play at the end of June.

 

The Mets have actually played well against good teams.  In fact they lead the league with 18 wins against teams above .500.  Their worst showing of the year was against the hapless Houston Astros.  Clearly the Mets have proved they can pretty much play with anyone.  Anything could happen going forward but to expect the Mets to falter based on opponent is to have not been paying attention to the first 50 games.

 

50 seems like a fairly substantial sample size and the Mets have the third most wins in the National League.  They have two top flight pitchers at the top of their rotation, one of the best players in baseball at third base, and an offense that seemingly manages to have good at-bat after good at-bat, even when dealing with slumping players and injuries.  The bullpen is streaky, but Bobby Parnell and Ramon Ramirez are pretty good, and Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco get the job done more often that not.  That’s more than you can say about most bullpens.  They’ve been in the money for a playoff berth for most of season and there is no reason to think that’s going to change in the immediate future.

May 30th, 2012 by Ceetar in 2012, Baseball, Mets
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Canadian Optimism

Memorable series in Toronto?  Perhaps not.  The Mets flirted more with last place than with first this weekend, but they got out of the country with a win and perhaps that’s a step forward.

 

No NL East team swept this weekend, providing the Mets some solace.  The Mets also have managed to squeak out some wins while they’ve been struggling, perhaps doing some good towards minimizing the damage.  Avoiding long losing streaks is a good way to avoid undoing all the progress you’ve made during winning streaks, and simply being 4-6 over the last 10 instead of 2-8 has done that.   A good way to have a winning record is to win more games when you’re playing well than you lose when you’re playing poorly, since all teams do both for at least some portion of the season.

 

It’s important to minimize the length of said losing streaks as well, and for the last couple of decades the National League’s favorite way to do that has been to face the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Mets will travel to Pittsburgh for a three game set, and while it’s true that they’re not a good team, it’s important to note that they rank 3rd in the NL in team ERA and the Mets will be facing their two best pitchers in Bedard and McDonald.  The counter argument is of course that the Pirates can’t hit a lick and the Mets will be tossing the top of their rotation as well, with Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese getting the starts.

 

It’s worth noting that the Mets are three games over .500 more than a quarter of the way through the season and haven’t been a losing team even for one game all season long despite being almost universally picked to finish last.  It isn’t because everything has clicked either.  The starters have probably been better than expected overall, but they’ve been prone to absolute disaster starts as well.  The bullpen is incredibly streaky, and it almost seems that as Frank Francisco goes, so go the Mets.  The offense that should’ve been the Mets best feature has been spotty, although David Wright is hitting for two.  Ike Davis has been pretty much a disaster and the two positions that the Mets really didn’t have any depth, shortstop and catcher, are two positions the Mets faced injuries at .  Both Ruben Tejada and Josh Thole went down while putting up strong offensive numbers, and their backups certainly aren’t up to par.

 

And still the Mets roll on.  Time to take care of some Pirates.

May 21st, 2012 by Ceetar in 2012, Baseball, Mets
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And The Winner Is..

Mets on a rollConor Coen wins the seatcrew.com Mets tickets! Enjoy the game!

 

And the Mets win the ballgame!

 

That’s a five game winning streak to put them at 5 games over .500 for the first time since just after the All-Star Break in 2010.  It also puts them inches from first place. (And in solid Wild Card position) It’s a sweep of the defending division champions and not just a sweep but a sweep that including them pitching their two best pitchers.

 

With the Knicks eliminated that’s one less team for people to distract themselves with and not notice that the Mets might actually be pretty good.  Off days with the Mets on a winning streak are the best type of off days.

May 10th, 2012 by Ceetar in 2012, Baseball, ceetar, Mets, Mets-Phillies rivalry
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Tonight’s Must-Win Mets Game

Well obviously it’s not a must-win, it’s May 9th and the 31st game of the season!

 

Still, there’s a certain symbolic worth to winning this game.  It’d be a sweep of the defending division champions.  It’d be beating their second ace pitcher.  It’d be answering a losing streak with a bigger winning streak.

 

And it’d put the Mets five games above .500, which is somewhere they haven’t been all season, nor all of last season.  They haven’t been five games over .500 since July 19th of 2010.   This was just after the All-Star Break when they rushed Carlos Beltran and Luis Castillo back and got steamrolled by the soon-to-be World Champion San Francisco Giants at the beginning of their run.

 

The Mets should have a fair shot at this.  Dillon Gee hasn’t quite gotten the results he’d have liked, but he’s getting a lot more swinging strikes than previous years and walking fewer.  This should be a good recipe for retiring the weak-hitting Philadelphia Phillies.  They have Cliff Lee going, but he’s going to be limited returning from injury and the Mets have been beating on the Phillies pen the last two games.

 

So it’s not a must-win game, but it’s still a game you’d really like to see the Mets get.

May 9th, 2012 by Ceetar in 2012, Baseball, Mets, Mets-Phillies rivalry
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Do You Believe In 6-3?

Is the Mets 6-3 record more than just a hot start?

 

Nine games are not a lot.  There is a LOT of baseball to be played yet.  Even the 1962 Mets had a stretch of games where they won six of nine.  In fact, they won nine of 12.  Of course, they followed that up with a 17 game losing streak, mostly to the Giants and Dodgers.

 

I don’t think this team is 1962 bad.  I’m pretty sure of it.  I don’t even think they’re 2011 bad.  I think this collection of players is a winning ballclub.  I said in March that this division would be a race down to the wire.  I still believe that they are all going to be more bunched up this season, compared to the Phillies winning 102 games last year.  As we know, this means winning the games against the division opponents becomes even more important.  The Mets are 6-3 against the division, 2-1 against the favorites, and are playing good baseball.

 

I was more optimistic, obviously, about this team to begin with.  I believe.  I think others are starting to believe too.  Maybe not that this team could actually compete, but that they might actually win more games than they lose.  They’ve shed the negativity that’s so prevalent in the offseason for what looks like a very fun team to watch.  You could see the expected win totals creeping up from the offseason, through Spring Training, and now even further with a nice start.

 

Obviously nothing’s perfect.  The Mets won’t win 67% of their games.  They probably won’t go 159 and 3. Bay still is very spotty and seems to get hurt every time he does anything good.  The defense is a work in progress, and may actually be really bad.  Mike Pelfrey is still Mike Pelfrey.  Although I’d offer this counter point to those saying it’s a pain to watch Pelfrey pitch:  Think about how the Phillies fans feel watching guys get soft blooping singles off of him and unable to make much of them.   Is there anything more frustrating than watching your players make soft contact?

 

There is much more good than bad in this short part of the season.  Ike Davis and Lucas Duda have started slowly, but they’re already hitting home runs.   The rotation has actually been excellent.  Santana is still standing and pitching well, Dickey is still awesome, Niese so far looks to have taken his new contract to heart, and even Pelfrey is generating the groundballs he needs to be successful.   Let’s not forget David Wright.  Many of you joked about his jammed finger and day to day status leading to a three month DL stint.  Instead he missed merely three games and homered in his very next pitch.  I think Rich Coutinho said it best:

Lets face facts If Derek Jeter played with a broken bone and hit a homer, in Boston say, they would be airing a spec Yankeeography 2 nite

— Rich Coutinho (@coutinho9) April 14, 2012

 

So let’s enjoy some baseball, and see if the Mets can sweep the Braves again!

April 16th, 2012 by Ceetar in 2012, Mets
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