Reasons To Be Optimistic About 2012

Yesterday the Wilpons settled their Madoff case, putting a pretty firm handle on what their liabilities are going forward.  This is a big step in getting the Mets financially stable.  The second step was announced last night as official; The 12 minority shares have sold.  They’ve paid back the bridge loans, and have the cash on handle to start getting things straightened out.  They’ve got other financial woes on the horizon, but none of those are looming at this moment, so it’s time to focus on the baseball.

 

Kerel Cooper at Ontheblack.com lists five reasons to be optimistic about the 2012 Mets.  Five good solid reasons, beyond the finances, which you should definitely check out.  Here’s a couple more to round out the list.

The bullpen:  Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch haven’t historically been regularly awesome, but they’ll be a step up from Ryota Igarashi and D.J. Carrasco.  Add in Ramon Ramirez, who’s a very solid reliever, and the Mets should have a good bullpen.  This helps the Mets keep and hold leads, where maybe they’d have given them away last year.  It also limits the pressure on a recovering Johan Santana to go deep in games too often.

 

The opposition: You’ll here that everyone in the division got better, but it’s not true.  The Phillies lost a starting pitcher in Oswalt, lost Madson and Lidge and replaced them with Papelbon, and are starting the season without Ryan Howard and probably without Chase Utley.  Their top three pitchers are awesome, but they also all posted career low ERAs.  Halladay and Lee are not pitchers you expect to be improving at their age, so it’s almost a lock that they’ll regress to a somewhat less awesome state this year.  That’s without mentioning Halladay’s declining velocity or the Spring Training rumors (that mean nothing, it’s Spring Training) that he’s been hitable and his arm angle is all messed up.  The Atlanta Braves finished second in the division, and after an epic collapse really didn’t do much to alleviate their problems.  They’re also dealing with some pitcher injuries.  With the top of the division coming back to the pack, the threshold to make the playoffs is lessened and intra-division games could go a long way towards deciding the victor.

 

The 2012 Mets are going to surprise some people.  They’ve got some real talent on the team, and every day is another day closer to some of the reinforcements in the minors being ready.  It’s going to be a fun season, and I can’t wait for it to start.

 

 

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Redirecting the Optimism

I don’t quite want to eulogize the Mets just yet.  While the chances of making the playoffs just went on the DL with little hope of returning this season, there is still baseball that’s being played, and out of the playoffs is not the same as no longer playing.  There will be plenty of time to deconstruct and over-analyze 2011 in the offseason, while we’re rooting against all those evil teams that made the playoffs.

 

So where do we direct that optimism that failed us in 2011?  For starters, the rookies and prospects that will get some extra time will go a long way towards being able to make informed decisions about the 2012 roster.  How feasible is Lucas Duda going to be?  Has Josh Thole rebounded from a poor beginning to the point that we don’t need to look at other options?   There are enough guys that will get some playing time to have a lot of options for the future.

 

The other place to direct the optimism is at the teams we hate.  The Phillies, despite the pitching, tend to look like they can be had if the opposing team’s pitching is on.  Given that they may have to face the Giants and the Braves, they certainly could be looking at an early exit from the playoffs if they hit a hot pitcher in a short series.  The Yankees look more well rounded than the Phillies, but they also seem to lack a certain depth that may leave them exposed if everything is not clicking when they reach the playoffs.

 

Personally I’m rooting for Carlos Beltran and the Giants over the Red Sox in the World Series.

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Random Stuff About the Mets

This is from last week.  Why is there a phantom NYY on the out of town scoreboard?

There are plenty of parts of Citi Field that remind me of Shea Stadium.  Being able to watch fans wind their way into or out of the stadium is one of them.

 

I always love taking random shots of things and areas around the stadium.  Citi Field doesn’t create standing pools of water like Shea did, but here’s a part that does accumulate some water.

Continue reading “Random Stuff About the Mets”

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Is Rex Ryan Hurting the Mets?

Currently the Mets are squandering an opportunity to climb back into the playoff race by not capitalizing on a struggling Atlanta Braves team, but whether or not they get closer it seems like some interest in the Mets could be waning as the season goes on, and I blame Rex Ryan.

The last couple of years Mets fans in their negativity have looked for any reason to give up on the team and root for next year.  Fans were doing it as early as Spring Training this year, proclaiming the season as hopeless and getting mad at people that suggested maybe they could actually be a winning team.  Now that the NFL has ended it’s lockout and is set to resume as normal, there is something else for Mets fans to focus on.  Rex Ryan’s antics become more enticing than Daniel Murphy’s defense.  Potential free agent signings for the Jets or Giants seem to become more interesting than what the Mets will or won’t do with Carlos Beltran at the deadline, or who will slip through waivers.  The health of various injured football players becomes more intriguing than Johan Santana’s rehab schedule.

I think the Mets still have plenty of interesting baseball left in them, and I suggest you don’t let preseason football, which most of you profess is pretty boring, get in the way of actual sport.  There will be things to watch on this team that will be exciting, games that will be a great deal of fun to be at, and players that are a marvel to watch play everyday.  If the Mets are out of it you can switch channels on Sundays, but don’t miss out on some fun baseball just because the Giants and Jets haven’t disappointed you yet this year.

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Welcome Back David, We Missed You!

Today the Mets get back their unofficial captain and star third-baseman.  After all, how can the Mets take on the Goliath challenge of making the playoffs without their David?

 

The Mets playoff chances appear to be hanging by a thread, despite still technically controlling their own destiny as far as the Braves are concerned.  While they are playing just well enough to not fall out of it, they’re not gaining any ground either.  Another week without gaining ground possibly spells the end of Carlos Beltran as a Met, but looking to sell at the deadline or not, the Mets will get reinforcements.  David Wright returns tonight, and it looks like the road is marked for the return of Johan Santana.  I wouldn’t rule out Sandy Alderson making a trade that can help the Mets, both this year and in the future, at the trade deadlines.  Perhaps it’s unlikely, but you never know what’s going to be out there.

 

We’ll start with David Wright.  He’s tearing up Florida in the minors, and here’s hoping he’ll continue to tear up Florida in the majors this weekend.  It’ll be nice to have him back. Everyone time someone mentions the Mets third baseman I instinctively think David Wright, and Daniel Murphy’s name starting with the same letter doesn’t help.

 

So welcome back David Wright, and here’s to a great end of the season for you.

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Going to the Game to Make the Mets Win

Headed out to the game tonight alone.  Which means I’ll be roaming around the park aimlessly watching the game from all over the place.

I’m thinking of hanging around the outfield tonight.  Checking out the pitchers warming up, watching the game from the Shea Bridge, and maybe climb up to the Pepsi Porch for an inning or two. 

The Mets really need to win tonight.  They’ve had one bad week every month that keeps them from getting above .500.   In May they got to .500 and then lost six of seven.  They got back to .500 again last week in Atlanta, lost a crushing game and have now lost four of their last five.   If they can minimize that damage and start the climb again now, they’ll hopefully be able to climb above .500 and keep going.   Maybe Bay is going to start being Jason Bay again after a big game last night, and maybe Wright and Davis get good news this week and make their way back to the team.  Otherwise this Mets season feels a lot like Sisyphus.

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Move Along, Nothing to See Here

I was going to rant and rave and vent and fume, but it looks like Jason Fry basically covered all the angles over there at Faith and Fear in Flushing so I’ll just throw in a little pointer here to there.

 

Ugh. After which we never, ever spoke of it again.

 

So let’s remind these American League teams that are coming to Citi Field why National League baseball is the way to go.  Let’s laugh at their pitchers trying to hit, and laugh at the managers that may botch a double-switch.  Let’s read all the Moneyball references made while the A’s are in town and watch the Mets play, and win, some baseball games at home.  It’s been a long road trip, and a successful one, so let’s go out to the park and watch Jose Reyes be Amazin’.

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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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Optimism Is Not A Sin!

Last week Ted Berg wrote this piece about optimism in response to a different optimistic post by Patrick Flood. Scratchbomb retweeted it, noting that optimism is not a sin.  I like the phrase, and it’s good to see others jumping aboard the optimism bandwagon and joining the club (see the sidebar to join the Optimistic Mets Fan Club on Facebook), whether it’s just front office philosophy or not.
Optimism Is Not A Sin
Ted and Patrick wrote about optimism mainly in regards to the Mets offseason moves, and sabermetrics.  A lot of discussions these days get twisted into an “everything Omar did was bad and Alderson is a sabermetric genius and won’t make those same mistakes.”  Sure, Omar didn’t rely on advanced statistics as much as Alderson does, but as Ted suggested, the Mets aren’t in a position to lose 120 games.  There were flaws in this team, even without the injury issues, but the team is talented, promoted minor leaguers that have contributed and will contribute in the future, and is in a good position to add pieces in the future as need be.  Moves are not necessarily easier to be positive about just because they are made with a larger emphasize on advanced statistical analysis and the Chris Youngs of 2011 are looking to fill a much larger role than the bench spots Omar signed Jacobs and Matthews Jr to last year.

Sabermetrics or not, the Mets offseason was a collection of minor signings meant to represent depth and upside.  There weren’t many good or great players to be had at anything approaching reasonable value and the Mets roster wasn’t the swiss cheese of baseball rosters that many made it out to be.  Alderson hit the holes, and hit them hard.  Multiples options for second base and lots of bench guys to slot in at various positions around the field to provide suitable backups and provide depth should a regular need to sit out a couple of days.  A handful of pitchers who have potential, or have had a great year or two when they stay healthy to make up the two empty rotation spots, and a barrel full of relievers to make up a bullpen in what sounds like it will be a no-holds barred cage match in Spring Training for the last three or four spots.

Optimism is not a sin.  I try, and I’ll continue to try until the division is clinched, to make a case for how and why the Mets will win the division. The odds may be stacked against them and they may need more things to go right than would be considered normal luck but that doesn’t mean they it’s impossible, or that it’s useless to be hopeful and upbeat that they can happen, and that the Mets can win.

I truly believe that the Mets could have one of the best offenses in the National League, and I’m not going to be shy about proclaiming that.  Looking at the lineup, it’s certainly not a stretch.  There is a certain amount of recovery from some and growing from others needed for it to happen, but it’s not out of the question.  Closer to Opening Day I’ll make my official case for how and why I’m predicting the Mets will clinch the division on 9/25 against the Phillies.

Most importantly, the games still have to be played.  Every year there are dozens of pitchers that were great and revert to being pretty average.  There are rookies that take off in their second year to have great years, and players that overcome injury in previous seasons to have bounce back years. When those players bouncing back are perennial All-Stars, the bounce is that much higher.  There are surprises every season; no one knows what’s going to happen.  Even the predicted favorite from the offseason rarely makes it all the way to the World Series. Take the Sports Illustrated picks from last season; not even one supposed expert got either of the pennant winners correct.

So don’t get caught up in the negativity around the Mets.  There is nothing wrong with thinking some of the Mets signings will have a good year and stay healthy, that Ike Davis could blossom into an excellent player or that Reyes and Beltran in their walk year put up numbers close to their career norms.  With better coaching and leadership it’s a pretty good bet that the Mets will get more out of their talent than they have in years past.  Remember: Optimism is not a sin!

Update: Here’s a post by Brian DiMenna who’s joined the Optimistic Mets Fan Club.

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