Apr 11

Mets No Longer Lovable Losers

Well, you didn’t expect perfection, did you?

POLO GROUNDS: Where it began for the Mets.

The Mets gained the reputation as “Lovable Losers” in their infancy, which began 50 years ago today with a decisive loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. Last night was also decisive, but there was nothing lovable about it as the Mets started the night with news their often-injured third baseman, David Wright, had a fractured right pinkie and is expected to be placed on the disabled list.

Then, I suppose in a page taken from the original Mets, Dillon Gee gave up a game-opening home run to Ian Desmond. We knew the Mets would eventually lose, but defeat was certain and ugly, containing butchered plays by Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda, two defensive liabilities to begin with, but not with the Marvelous Marv flair.

Gee was roughed up and the offense disappeared and their first defeat of the season was in the books. There will be others, but defeat in 2012 will be different than defeat in 1962.

Back then, New York was happy to have National League baseball back in the city and embraced the rag-tag group of veteran rejects managed by circus barker Casey Stengel. Defeat was often and came in various forms and with the Stengel proclamation: “Can’t anybody here play this game?”

Well, at one time, they did. At one time, Gil Hodges, Duke Snider and Richie Ashburn could really play. However, 50 years ago, they represented memories in flannels.

Today’s Mets, while undermanned, have a core of young and talented players, with more on the way up. Had the original Mets taken to start with youth before veterans, who knows how the history of the franchise would have changed?

Perhaps, we might have had the Miracle Mets before 1969. Then again, the karma would have been altered. Like much about baseball, there’s fun and beauty in speculation.

The Mets celebrate 50 years this season, and we all have our memories and special moments. Mine is different than yours, but they are all special. I don’t know how this year will wind up, but it will be special in its own right because it will contain a new set of memories.

It began with a sprint out of the gate with four exciting and well-played victories, but sputtered last night with bad pitching, spotty defense and no hitting, just like it was 50 years ago.

But, it’s not 1962 anymore. The Mets have a new stadium and aren’t playing in the rundown Polo Grounds. Those Mets weren’t expected to be good, or even compete. Today’s Mets must compete, and in New York, that means winning.

 

Apr 10

Mets Farm System Producing

A common thread among all contenders is a strong home-grown core. Teams augment themselves with trades and free-agent signings, but the foundation comes from within.

With the exception of left fielder Jason Bay, last night’s line-up was a production of the farm system. Josh Thole, Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada, David Wright, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Lucas Duda and Mike Pelfrey all came from below.

Ideally, a team wants to add one player a year from its minor league system, much the way the Yankees did during their run during the 1990s and early 2000s. When you re-visit how the championship teams of 1969 and 1986 were built, the foundation came from the minor leagues.

A team building from within gains the added benefit of economic stability and cost certainty. In today’s economic structure, and considering the Mets’ financial stresses, building this way should enable them to be aggressive in the free-agent market in the next few seasons.

The Mets are under $100 million for 2012 for their payroll, and hope to have more relief when the contracts for Bay and Johan Santana expire over the next two years. Ideally, they’d like to trade both, but that’s highly unlikely consider their injury history and performance. Freed from a long-term obligation to Jose Reyes, the Mets’ next major contractual decision is whether to extend David Wright.

Things definitely appear brighter today then they did at the start of spring training when the organization had the Ponzi scandal looming over their head. Despite being on the hook for a potential $162 million – far better than the $1 billion it could have been – the Mets have reason to believe the worst is behind them.

Because the agreement stipulates the Mets don’t have to pay any of their settlement for three years, if they continue to play well they should benefit from an increased attendance.

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 10

Mets Batting Order Against Washington

There are minor changes in the Mets line-up tonight against Washington, beginning with Ike Davis sitting out with an 0-for-15 slump and replaced at first by Justin Turner.

Mike Nickeas will get the start at catcher with Josh Thole having the night off against left-hander Ross Detwiler.

Here’s the order:

Ruben Tejada, ss

Daniel Murphy, 2b

David Wright, 3b

Jason Bay, lf

Lucas Duda, rf

Justin Turner, 1b

Scott Hairston, cf

Mike Nickeas, c

Dillon Gee, rp

LINE-UP COMMENTS: Wondering how long Terry Collins will stay with Jason Bay in the clean-up spot. He’s not hitting and hasn’t done so for two years. And, there’s no sign of him breaking out of it.

ON DECK: Mets’ home grown talent.

 

 

 

Apr 09

Can Pelfrey Maintain Roll For Mets?

One of baseball’s most popular cliches is pitching is contagious, both good and bad. Tonight against Washington, Mike Pelfrey, who struggled during spring training ¬†will attempt to follow up the Mets’ strong showing from its rotation in his first appearance of the season.

PELFREY: What's he thinking?

The Mets have been here before with Pelfrey, and your guess is as good as anybody as to how he’ll come of the game. Eventually, however, Pelfrey must confront his demeans and pitch like he’s supposed to.

For the second straight season I’ve listed Pelfrey as the one key Met, who if he turned it around could take the next step to stardom. We’ve waited for several years for Pelfrey to turn it around. It’s time for him.

 

 

 

Apr 09

Evaluating Mets’ Sweep Of Braves; Niese Puts Cap On Weekend

NIESE: Flirts with no-hitter.

The Mets and Yankees were at opposite ends of the broom over the weekend, but it didn’t take much to guess where most of the newspaper attention went. Right – in Florida where the Rays were disposing of the Yankees.

Being a Mets fan, you’re used to that, but today you want it this way. Let the Mets fly in under the radar; let the Yankees deal with the pressure and panic.

The weekend was all about pitching, with Jon Niese flirting with the franchise’s first no-hitter. The string remains intact for 7,971 games. Who cares how long the streak goes as long as they keep playing well.

Continue reading