Will The Mets Be Better Than 2011?

Optimism starts small; will the Mets improve on 2011’s record?  Are they a better team?  Will they perform better?


I’m leaning towards yes.   Losing Reyes, Pagan and Beltran is a big hit, but the Mets offense is still pretty strong.  Lucas Duda looks like a solid player.  Andres Torres may not be great, but even if he’s not good the Mets have high hopes for Kirk Nieuwenhuis coming up pretty quickly.  David Wright and Ike Davis are healthy, and Daniel Murphy should get some more playing time as well.  Josh Thole and Ruben Tejada may not be the best, but they’re pretty good at not making out and keeping the line moving.  This team won’t have problems scoring runs.


The bullpen is clearly slated to be better.  Francisco Rodriguez will not be here, but the Mets added Frank FranciscoRamon Ramirez, and Jon Rauch.  Some injury concerns, but the bullpen has some pretty good depth.


The starters are where the big questions come in.  The Mets lost Chris Capuano, who did a pretty good job for them.  Good job aside, his eminently replaceable 1.7 rWAR is not going to handicap them much.  Johan Santana is slated to take that spot, provided he does not have a setback during Spring Training.  Despite this serious possibility I have faith Santana can at least approach the 1.7 rWAR Capuano gave the Mets.  Even if he’s somewhat diminished, he’s a smart competitor that should be able to get by with somewhat reduced ability.    With luck bouncing a little more in Pelfrey’s favor this season, and Jon Niese’s peripherals leading to a better ERA, it’s possible the Mets starters will be better too.  It probably hinges most on health, but that’s an argument and concern for every team.


So there’s a very high-level argument for the Mets being better.  We can worry about how much better another time, particularly as it pertains to the other NL East teams and their records.  Specifically, it’ll be decided on the field with the games being played, not on a blog or newspaper somewhere before the season even starts.


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2011 Mets fading into the Sunset

The local football teams played Sunday night, marking the beginning of the end of baseball.  With the Mets eliminated from the NL East and almost eliminated from the Wild Card race, Mets related traffic and discussion has slowed to a crawl outside of the die-hard in Metsopotamia.


But we’re going to miss them when they’re gone.  The New York Mets now have as many games remaining as the New York Giants; another sign of the end.  Time is ticking down, the Mets are playing poor, sloppy and uninspired baseball and even Reyes isn’t hitting like he was for most of the rest of the season.


As much as it’s not much fun to watch lately, I’m going to watch.  You never know when something crazy will happen, and this team probably still has a couple of fun wins in them.  I’m going out to Citi Field tonight for Star Wars night, which should be interesting at least.


Much thanks to the Mets for including Optimistic Mets Fan in the final issue of Mets Magazine. It’s very cool to see this blog in the Mets program. If you happen to buy the final issue of the season, flip over to page 153 and check it out. Then turn to page 154 for Faith and Fear in Flushing‘s entry. I love that there is a Spanish translation as well, although anyone that needs it isn’t going to find the site too readable. Maybe I need a ‘translate to Spanish’ widget for Fanáticos Optimista de los Mets?

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They Come Home Winners

It’s  been a rough stretch for the Mets, but they’ll return home winners, having ended their losing streak Sunday in Atlanta.  For now it’s just one game, but they do face two of the weaker teams in the league during this six game homestand.


They’ve hopefully put the three games in 24 hours meme to rest, eliminating the need to juggle the roster, shuffle relievers and starters, and try to figure out how to keep everyone rested.  T hey can also get back into a normal routine of everyday baseball and hopefully eliminate some of these silly mistakes they’ve been making.


It’s the perfect time to start getting on a hot streak; the weather starts warming up, the starting pitchers arms have been strengthened a little, and Jason Bay may even be back as soon as Tuesday.


The bullpen has started to settle down as well, and has started to build up a sample size that Terry Collins can use when decided how and when to use different relievers to maximize success.


The Mets have played less than 10% of their games so far, and there is  plenty of baseball to be played.  I could give you a whole list of teams that have had poor Aprils that go on to have successful season as well as mention all sorts of statistics Mets player are posting that will get better. Right now we’re only look at one small sample of mostly under-performing data.   Many of those numbers will level out over the months to come, and many players will experience over-performing stretches that lead to more wins than losses.  It’s simply unfair to judge the team conclusively on this small sample of games.  They need to win games, but right now simply that they’re playing them is joy enough.


They return to Citi Field after an off-day on a one game winning streak with the path laid out in front of them to start making winning the trend, and losing the aberration.

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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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Blogger Conference Call with Sandy Alderson

This evening Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson took the time to have a conference call with many of our favorite Mets blogs, including this one.  Everyone asked great questions, and Alderson’s answers were very enlightening and thought out.  Michael Baron wrote up a lot of it here. The Mets tweeted some of the conversation as well.

(You can follow me on Twitter too!) Sandy is doing a live webcast on Monday, so if there is still a question you’d like to see answered, go ask it!

As a representative of the optimistic fan base, or what still exists of it, I asked a suitably optimistic question of Sandy:  “You’ve mentioned being somewhat restricted in what you can spend this offseason, but if things go well and the Mets are in contention around the All-Star Break, what type of flexibility do you have to add a player or two to improve the club and keep them there?”

His response was positive.  He didn’t laugh at the idea of the Mets being in contention or talk about focusing on the future.  He said that that is the position they want to be in, and he would have to ability to add the pieces they need. He also suggested that if the Mets were in that position he would expect the attendance to reflect that.

In essence, he’s going to do the best he can to put the best team on the field and he hopes we’ll be prompted to go out and enjoy the games.  He ended the call saying we should do this again, and the entire experience left me feeling good about the Mets, and anxious for the season.

I’ll try to update this post with links to other write-ups as I see them, although you should know where to look by now. Mets Merized Online wins the award for speed, at least of what I’ve seen.

On the Black

The Eddie Kranepool Society

Mets Police

Very good transcript at Amazin’ Avenue

Matthew Artus
Faith and Fear in Flushing

Mets Today

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Join The Club

There are posts and comments all over the Metsosphere about being excited and optimistic for the future.  All centered on the Mets “Big 3” in Alderson, Ricciardi, and DePodesta.  (What’s with Sandy hiring Pauls?  Any of the managerial candidates named Paul?) To that I say, “Join the Club”.  Maybe my optimism has been a little misguided over the years, but I believe this team has underperformed and still has the talent to have a shot at the post season in 2011.  Once these three guys get going in the front office, I believe the Mets position will only be strengthened.

So if you’re ready to put aside all the negative Mets stereotypes, ready to stop expecting the worst, and ready to look at the reasons the Mets can succeed versus doubting that they will then welcome aboard.

To compliment this post, and this blog, I’ve created an Optimistic Mets Fan Club Google group.  The group has no purpose, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t join.  I’ve also created a Facebook group.  If you don’t like it, the terrorists Phillies win.

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The Mets’ Wheel of Time Turns

The Wheel of Time turns, and Mets seasons come and pass, leaving games that become legend. Legends fade to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called 2010, an Age yet to come, an age long past, a press conference started in Flushing. The conference was not the beginning. But it was a beginning.

Okay, the quote barely makes sense, but the cyclical nature of the Mets history reminded me of Robert Jordan’s epic series. The Mets are again faced with a reboot of sorts, shedding some dead weight and redirected the franchise that has run off course.

Shea Goodbye
Shea Goodbye

So far I feel Fred and Jeff Wilpon said the right things.   I’m sure some of it’s probably saying what we want to hear, but they’ve given the right answers and seem to have the right goals and motivation.  I’ll take it.  Words are all we have right now, until after the World Series when we can start signing guys, and even that’s nothing until we play, and win, some games.

This season wsn’t a total waste for me.  The Mets made a lot of strides in appeasing and interfacing  with fans and bloggers. They created a Twitter account and started interacting. They invited a group of bloggers ‘into the fold’ and gave us an opportunity to stand on the field and talk to players during batting practice. They’re aware that there are a lot of intelligent people that spend a lot of time focusing on the Mets and thinking about them in detail.  Giving us that opportunity this year was an amazing thrill and one I’m extremely thankful for. It also gave me a chance to meet some of the fellow bloggers that I’ve been interacting with for a while.

You may have noticed, or not, that I’ve been posted a lot less.  It’s not the Mets, although them being mostly irrelevant for a month didn’t hurt, but me.  I’m getting married this weekend and things have been rather hectic.  The Mets did not reward me with a wedding present of a NLDS game to miss, and David Wright did not respond to my wedding invitation . I probably won’t be updating much over the next couple of weeks, but I suspect once things settle down I’ll get right back into it.  I’ve got some stuff planned in the offseason including some sabermetric debates that I’ve been putting off as well as some trying to match up the title of the blog with the 2011 season and the direction of the team.  In other words, a couple of spin posts trying to justify believing the Mets can and will win the World Series in 2011. (Hey, it’s more fun than predicting doom and gloom. Aren’t you tired of that?)

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The Anti-Mets

Many Mets fans would fall into a more doom and gloom mindset than a positive one.  Whether that’s because of persistent disappointment, a “younger-brother” mentality associated with the Yankees, the attitude of talk radio hosts, or something else, Mets fans tend to approach the team waiting for the other shoe to drop and the team to fail.

From Baseball

As the self-proclaimed Optimistic Mets Fan, I tend not to take this approach anyway, but I’ve found that this rule is not true across the board.  Oddly enough, there are two Mets players that never fail to bring out smiles and optimism; Johan Santana and Jose Reyes.

From Baseball

These two Anti-Mets, more than any other player, bring out positive vibes from Mets fans.  Carlos Beltran, despite being very clutch, has the cloud of his strike out against the Cardinals in the 2006 playoffs.  David Wright has been considered almost un-clutch by many fans.

Even if it’s not true, when David Wright comes up with a runner on third, many are expecting a strkeout.  When Oliver Perez lets up a leadoff double, most fans expect him to walk two following that.  Jason Bay hasn’t even played a game yet and you just know many fans are already expecting every opposing runner to score from second on a single to left field.

Reyes is different.  When Reyes gets on to lead off an inning, Mets fans give him second base like it’s a foregone conclusion.  They expect him to score on any ball hit to the outfield.  They expect opposing pitchers to get nervous and possibly balk in runs.

It’s similar for Johan Santana.  If it’s an Oliver Perez start, fans are betting the over/under on how many walks he gives up.  Or how many foul balls John Maine has.  If it’s a close game in the 6th or 7th inning and Pelfrey is pitching and lets up a leadoff single, Mets fans think “Here we go again.”  If Santana lets up that same leadoff single even many of the pessimistic fans are just thinking about double plays and are recalculating how many pitches it’ll now take to get the next three guys out to see if Santana can pitch another inning afterwards.

This is the true meaning of the phrase, “As Reyes goes, so do the Mets.”  Mets fans expect winning results from Reyes and when they get it they feel the Mets will win.  Johan is such a fierce competitor that as fans we’re surprised when the opponents’ bats don’t literally explode under his gaze.  It doesn’t matter that the Mets have never pitched a no-hitter; when Johan strikes out the leadoff batter, the first thing we think of is “26 to go.”

This post is also visible at The Real Dirty Mets Blog.

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They Are That Good

Just because we’re losing, or have lost, doesn’t mean that we aren’t that good.

When you encounter someone that tells you the Mets aren’t that good, give them a pat on the back. Their response is a defense mechanism against the hurt they’re feeling with the way this team is managed and playing.

No matter how you look at it, this team is pretty good and should win the division.

They’re better than last year. The bullpen has gone from bottom five to top five. That’s a huge improvement. The starters seem at least as good as last year. Both corner outfield spots look to be better than last year, as does second base.

The Phillies are worse. Being that they had a ton of pitchers have career years last year, it was obvious they wouldn’t repeat that performance. They weren’t even the best team last year, except as far as ultimate results go. They have been getting by on their offense so far, but their offense, while good, can’t carry them all year. Offense slumps, and that could lead to disastrous stretches of games if their pitchers continue to be mediocre. They certainly didn’t look like a great team in any of the four games they played the Mets.

Even if you go position by position, the Mets are a good team. They’re getting top of the line performance out of 3B and CF. The corner outfielders are around league average or better, and under-performing. Catcher is right around average, while SS and 2B are above it. Pelfrey and Maine are both above league average, which means that we have a favorable pitching match up more times than not.

I know it’s tough sometimes, when they find ways to lose; the manager throws the game away, the 1B of the inning throws the game away, someone makes a key error, or a reliever doesn’t have it. It’s not cause to give up. (Of course, if you’ve truly given up I don’t know what you’re doing watching games or reading blogs) It’s not often teams run away with the division in May. Even great teams. Even championship teams. There is a lot of good, and fun baseball coming. Don’t let a couple of bad games get you down.

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