Just to quickly summarize how bad things have gotten for the Mets: Justin Turner is your only .300 hitter, Shaun Marcum and Jeremy Hefner can’t win, even on a good day, and there is even a Twitter feed dedicated to telling fans whether or not Ike Davis struck out. The drama over Jordany Valdespin’s showboating and subsequent plunking against the Pirates isn’t exactly helping things either.
The breaking point had to be when my dad texted me last night to apologize for making me a Mets fan. Anybody that knows me knows that I live for the Mets, and have since I was four years old. Baseball is my sport; I can’t exactly call myself a football fan or a hockey fan since I only casually follow the Jets and the Islanders. When baseball season is over, I count down the days until pitchers and catchers report and Opening Day is my Christmas morning.
The last six seasons have been bad, each in their own unique way, but this season has been atrocious. In their last 26 games, the Mets are 7-19. Despite this, the Mets are still a safe 4.5 games ahead of the Marlins for The Battle for Fourth. The only days I look forward to are the days that Matt Harvey pitches, and even those aren’t guaranteed wins anymore. Harvey is easily the best thing about the Mets this season and should stand with an 8-0 record right now, but doesn’t due to lack of run support.
There is no set every day outfield; even our newest Met, Rick Ankiel, is platooned in center with Juan Lagares, who should be playing every day based on defense alone. If the outfield doesn’t produce anything offensively, then they should at least play defense. The bullpen is worn out because aside from Harvey, none of the starters have been going seven innings. It’s the same recipe for disaster that we had in 2012, except the 2013 Mets have imploded quicker than expected.
Through all of this, I can’t help but laugh. I have to make sarcastic remarks on Twitter (if you don’t already follow me, follow me here) otherwise I’ll go insane. There’s no point in getting depressed about the Mets because you have to expect it from them by now. I still plan on going to Citi Field in July and enjoying all the stadium has to offer me because it’s a beautiful ballpark that I haven’t visited in over two years. I still listen to Howie and Josh on the FAN religiously because I enjoy the banter. Maybe the Mets will win a game or two and I will find a reason to be slightly more optimistic, but for right now, there’s no crying in baseball because you’ll miss it when it’s gone in October.
There’s an episode of Seinfeld entitled “The Subway” where Jerry gets stuck on the train to Coney Island with a naked man. At first, Jerry, for obvious reasons, is apprehensive about sitting across the aisle from the naked man but then they get to talking about my favorite topic, New York Mets baseball. Jerry and the naked man go back and forth about pitching, offense, speed, a bullpen, leadership, and the front office. After this exchange, Jerry says to the naked man, “But you gotta like their chances!”
It’s a classic exchange. Every time my brother and I get on the phone or my dad and I get on the phone, it’s a discussion we have. They have no pitching? They have Santana, Niese, Gee, Harvey, and Marcum with Wheeler waiting in the wings, projected to arrive to the big club by the All Star break. Our starting rotation, even without R.A. Dickey, continues to be our biggest strength. There is no “weakest link.” All of these guys pitch to keep the team in games. A lot of their records should reflect better.
It’s very easy to look at the projected Opening Day roster and say that the Mets have no hitting, especially when two of the three starting outfield positions need to be filled. I may have joked that Sandy Alderson signed a lot of players to minor league contracts, but what he did was sign his outfielders and his reserves on the cheap. Andrew Brown and Collin Cowgill could very easily make the team out of camp, along with Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Jordany Valdespin, and even Matt den Dekker. Last season, the Mets outfield was arguably the least productive one in baseball. I’m not asking for major outfield production, but anything has to be better for the team than playing Jason Bay because they’re overpaying him by a lot of dollar signs.
The Mets do have their power hitters in David Wright, Ike Davis and Lucas Duda. David Wright always gives it his all, and I hope they do put a “C” on his jersey because he deserves it. He gets mad at himself when he’s struggling and works that much harder to break out of it. I’m not worried about David. Last year, Ike Davis came back from a first half of nothing-ness to hit 31 home runs. Imagine if he had started off the year hitting .275? I really think he could hit 40 home runs and drive in 100 runs. I really, really do, especially now that his ankle is back to where it was pre-freak collision with David Wright. Lucas Duda has been working on his swing this spring with hitting coach Dave Hudgens to eliminate movement in the batter’s box, and his pre-swing hitch is now gone.
The biggest question mark, in my eye, remains the bullpen. Sure, signing Brandon Lyon helps but we lost Jon Rauch, who had one of the better 2012 bullpen campaigns. As of 1:30 this afternoon, it appears that Bobby Parnell is going to be the closer going into exhibition games. Sure, on the outside, Parnell had a decent year going 5-4 with a 2.49 ERA in 68.2 innings pitched. But, in 12 save opportunities, he blew five of them. Five. I don’t know how much longer The Bobby Parnell Experiment is going to continue, but it sounds like an awesome name for a fantasy baseball team.
So, the Mets might not have an Albert Pujols, or a Justin Verlander or a Jose Valverde but that does not mean we’re any worse than other teams in the National League. We have what it takes to make a decent team. Baseball Prospectus even has us winning 80 games this year. Go figure.
If you had asked me last month if I thought the Mets were going to win 70 games, I would have told you no. But, now, I’m agreeing with the naked man from Seinfeld: “I LOVE their chances.”
Sure, the Braves have already clinched a playoff berth and are trying to top the Nationals in the NL East, but I think Jon Niese wanted to win this one more than the Braves did.
For Niese, it meant ending the season on a high note, finishing with career highs in wins and innings pitched and a career low 3.40 ERA. Niese also struck out a career high 155 batters this season. After last night’s performance, Jon Niese can feel good about the way his season has gone.
For the Mets, it means ending their season on a high note. It means giving their fans something to talk about besides the annual second half collaspe. The Mets have nothing left to play for…except for ruining Chipper’s night.
Emotions were high last night; this weekend marks the beginning of Chipper Jones’ final homestand as an Atlanta Braves player. Yesterday, the Braves had a ceremony paying tribute to Jones’ career and what better opponent than the Mets? Over the course of his career, Jones is someone the Mets and their fans have loved to hate. Why not make one last dig and become the party crashers?
Earlier this month, the Mets paid tribute to Chipper in their own way, by presenting him with a painting of Shea Stadium, a place where he performed so well that he named his son Shea. Of course, fans attending that Sunday’s game were denied one last LARRRRRRRRYYYYYYYYY chant.
This weekend’s trip to Atlanta marks the last chance for the Mets to be spoilers; our final series against the Marlins is only a factor in that it’s not a factor. If the Mets can win two out of three or even sweep Atlanta, they certainly will have ruined the Braves’ divisional chances, after their elimination number fell to two.
Finishing in first has suddenly become more important than it was in the past, and the Mets intend to teach the Braves that lesson the hard way.
In a season that has disappointed Mets fans aplenty, the last couple of weeks of the season saw some September milestones that kept fans sitting on the edge of their seats, whether they were at home or at Citi Field.
R.A. Dickey became the first pitcher in 22 years to win 20 games for the Mets. As we all know, Frank Viola was the last to accomplish the feat in 1990. Dickey joins a list that includes Viola, Dwight Gooden, David Cone, Jerry Koosman, and some guy named Tom Seaver who accomplished the feat four times (not including 1977-he won 21 games combined for the Mets & Reds).
Dickey remains on the shortlist of Cy Young Award contenders, as he now leads the NL in strikeouts and innings pitched. He is second in the wins category as Gio Gonzalez got his 21st win against the Phillies. He is also second in ERA to Clayton Kershaw by 1/100th of a point.
Dickey’s 20 wins makes him responsible for almost 28% of all the Mets victories this season. If you include no-decisions, Dickey has been the starting pitcher in nearly a third of all the Mets’ victories this season. I think it’s amazing that Dickey has been able to earn as many victories as he has on a team that remains subpar. Seeing the pitching performances from Dickey, Matt Harvey, and even Jon Niese make me optimistic that starting pitching will continue to be a strength in 2013.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that David Wright got is 1,419th career hit on Wednesday night. The little infield single that could puts him past Ed “The Original Met” Kranepool as the franchise leader in the hits category.
It seems like the only record left for David Wright to break is Darryl Strawberry’s home run record. Strawberry has 252 home runs, but perhaps the closer goal for Wright is passing Mike Piazza’s 220, which could happen by the middle of next year.
Wright would have to have a monster year in 2013, where he would break the franchise record for home runs in a season (41, by Todd Hundley and Carlos Beltran) to get himself in the Strawberry Stratosphere. Or the Strawberry Fields if you’re a fan of The Beatles.
I have to give these guys credit where credit is due. After going on the slide that they went on after the All Star break, they kept us watching. As a Mets fan, I looked forward to the days where Dickey pitched and enjoyed counting down until David Wright broke the Kranepool record. Even though they weren’t playing for anything, Wright and Dickey continue to soldier forward and be leaders in the clubhouse. Let’s bring these guys back long term, pretty please?
The Mets are in the midst of their final homestand of the season. Since a humiliating loss to the Phillies on Thursday, it looks like the Mets are back in shape. R.A. Dickey got his 19th victory, Ike Davis hit his 29th and 30th home runs of the season, and David Wright is only two hits away from breaking Ed Kranepool’s all time franchise record for hits.
Over the past five or six seasons, the Mets have perfected the art of starting great and ending sloppily. This year, the Mets have the chance to finish strongly, even though they dug themselves their own grave in July.
They already proved their skeptics wrong; they won 70 games when nobody said they could. They’ve stayed out of last place when every sports media outlet in the country picked them to finish in last place. If you take a second to really look back at the 2012 Mets campaign, they’ve exceeded everybody’s expectations.
The only people who seem to be unsatisfied are tortured Mets fans everywhere, who now spend their days discussing whether or not David Wright is coming back or even if he wants to come back. Conversations of 2013 started far too soon for Mets fans, who watched their team plummet from second to fourth place in a matter of weeks. With Matt Harvey spending his full season with the Mets next year, I’m already optimistic that next year will be a little turnaround; maybe they won’t crash as suddenly next year.
What the 2012 Mets have to do in the final days of their season is prove to their supporters that they are fully committed to turning things around in 2013. Sandy Alderson looks to spend a little bit more money to (hopefully) lock up Wright and Dickey, Terry Collins will certainly be spending his offseason mulling over why the second half went the way it did, and the Mets players will continue with their offseason workouts and hopefully watch video of themselves in the first half versus the second half.
These Mets have to prove to themselves that they want to win. Their fans already know that they want to win; we want them to win. The only people keeping the New York Mets from winning are the New York Mets. Yogi said it wasn’t over until it was over, which means there’s still time for these guys to prove that they can win and want to win.
It’s not about how you start; it’s all about how you finish.
There’s no question he’s good; he’s 18-5 with an NL-leading 2.68 ERA and a 1.044 WHIP (2nd in NL) going into tonight. In 205 innings pitched, he’s accumulated 197 strikeouts (2nd in NL) against 48 walks.
The question for R.A. Dickey all season has been: can a knuckleballer win the Cy Young award? After all, a knuckleballer has never been honored with the prestigious award. The Braves’ Phil Niekro finished second in the voting in 1969 to some guy named Tom Seaver. Wilbur Wood of the Chicago White Sox also finished second in the voting in 1972, losing out to Gaylord Perry.
The Cy Young award appears to be a four-man field between Dickey, Johnny Cueto, Gio Gonzalez, and Clayton Kershaw, all of whom sit atop the NL leaderboards in most categories. The difference between Dickey and Cueto/Gonzalez/Kershaw is that the Reds and Nationals are both poised to win their divisions, with the Dodgers still in contention for one of two Wild Cards spots and R.A. Dickey isn’t pitching for anything.
I don’t need to remind anybody that the Mets sit 4th in the NL East with a 66-80 record going into play tonight. We’re not even playing to finish with a .500 record; we’re playing because we have to play 162 games and to avoid the cellar. The only accomplishments R.A. Dickey has left to play for are his own personal ones, such as a 20 win season and the NL Cy Young award.
But will the voters go for a pitcher on a 4th (or potentially 5th) place team? Tim Lincecum won the award in 2008 & 2009 despite the Giants finishing 4th and 3rd in those respective years. Felix Hernandez won the AL Cy Young award in 2011 despite the Mariners finishing with one of the worst records in the American League. Zach Greinke won the 2009 AL Cy Young award despite the Royals’ 65-97 record and last place finish in the AL Central.
But what does that all mean for the Mets, who haven’t seen a Cy Young winner since Dwight Gooden won the award in 1985? It means that the voters, the Baseball Writers Association of America will simply have to ignore the horrendous second half of the Mets and remember the R.A. Dickey that pitched two consecutive one-hitters during the month of June while not allowing a run for 32 2/3 straight innings.
The last three weeks of the season are not only crucial for Johnny Cueto, Gio Gonzalez, and Clayton Kershaw, but they are crucial for R.A. Dickey because he’s about the only good thing the Mets have left.
With today’s 3-0 loss to the Brewers, the elimination number on the Mets went down to six. That means any combination of six wins from the top two Wild Card teams and six Mets losses and the season will finally be mathematically over.
The lives of tormented fans across the country will be made abundantly easier as the load from their shoulders gets lighter. No longer will we have to walk around with the “mathematically alive” chip. I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m tired of walking around saying, “We’re technically still in it, but the season’s over.”
At this point in the season, every loss helps us get a higher draft pick. Every game where we use Jeurys Familia or Jenrry Mejia instead of Jon Rauch or Frank Francisco gets the younger guys some major league experience.
I was asked by one of my Twitter followers the other day if I wished I had more answers about the state of the Mets going into the offseason. I responded, “It’s the Mets; we’ll never have the answers that we want.” Of course, my response had to be 140 characters or less.
With the Mets, if one offseason question is answered, another one arises. You can ask if the Mets plan on signing David Wright to a long-term deal, get that answer and then ask, “But what about R.A. Dickey?”
I have to commend Sandy Alderson for being very collected when dealing with questions of this nature. I’m sure he understands that he can’t make everybody happy at the end of the day; I’m sure fans still ask him why we didn’t re-sign Jose Reyes. At the end of the day, he has to do what he feels is best for the organization.
Once October 3 is over and done, I’m sure questions about the long term future of David Wright & R.A. Dickey will come into question. We’ll get news that Dickey was robbed of the Cy Young award (or that he won), we’ll ballyhoo about for two or three days and then we will move on with our offseason.
I can’t think a month into the organzation’s future. Heck, I can’t think about tomorrow’s game. I know Dickey is pitching, but we’re at home..and we are atrocious at home. Think about today and worry about tomorrow, well, tomorrow.
Yeah, it’s September. The elimination number on the Mets is nine. On October 3, Mets baseball will become dormant for the winter as the Wilpon family and Sandy Alderson try to re-sign David Wright and R.A. Dickey to long-term contracts. Or at least that’s what I hope they’ll do.
No, the Mets won’t be a .500 team this year, but that plan went moot after the Mets had horrendous homestand after horrendous homestand. They believe in homefield advantage about as much as they believe in comebacks (remember that slogan?). Sandy Alderson has recently expressed confidence in Terry Collins and his coaching staff as the season winds down, but the future of the coaching staff will be discussed in the next seven to ten days.
Most Met fans I talk to on Twitter have moved on to football season, either rooting for Big Blue or Gang Green, with a few Cowboys fans thrown into the mix. While I go for Gang Green myself, I remain a baseball purist, loyal until the last out. I still listen to Howie Rose and Josh Lewin on WFAN, thanks to advances in modern technology.
People wonder why I even still bother with the Mets. They have the worst bullpen in baseball and can’t win a game at Citi Field if it was handed to them on a silver platter. As Robin Ventura once said, “Mets fans are born, not made.”
My dad, brothers and I still have conversations about the Mets. Whenever I need to complain about them possibly shutting down Matt Harvey or about how Jason Bay can’t hit his way out of a paper bag, I call one of them. We even talk about the deals the Mets are (or aren’t) making in the offseason. We see eye to eye on most things, but if you bring up trading David Wright, I will shut you down.
The Mets bring my family together. Whether we are in Florida, New York, Hawaii, or Alaska, the Mets provide a common discussion piece amongst the DeMattia’s. It’s not over until it’s over for the DeMattia family. And then we start talking about 2013.
Being a Mets fan is a birth right I am grateful that my dad passed down onto me. I can’t let September get me down; it’s just like any other September in franchise history.
They were the best of times, they were the worst of times. But nevertheless, they’ve provided us with memories. So, who am I talking about? The two New York pretty boys who were blessed to be on the teams that end with ETS: David Wright and Mark Sanchez.
Both Wright and Sanchez were first round selections by their respective teams. Wright was a compensation pick after the Rockies signed Type-A free agent Mark Hampton. The Jets traded their first and second round selections along with Kenyon Coleman, Abram Elam, and Brett Ratliff to the Cleveland Browns so they could acquire Sanchez.
Both Wright and Sanchez are in the middle of lucrative contracts. Wright is in the 6th year of his 6-year/$55 million contract, being owed $15 million this season and $16 million if the Mets decide they can afford it. If Wright gets dealt, then the option is voided. Sanchez just completed the 3rd year of his 5-year/$50 million contract, with $28 million being guaranteed. Sanchez’s contract is the largest contract the Jets signed a player to in franchise history.
So why bring up Mark Sanchez in the same sentence as David Wright? Like Wright, Sanchez is the face of the organzation; he the guy you go to when the team wins, but he’s also the first guy you look to when the team loses. These two pretty boys may be the same player on the outside, but there is one glaring difference that makes one of these players more accountable than the other.
Prior to the outset of the 2011 season, Rex Ryan went to Mark Sanchez and said, “You’re the captain of this team.”
None of the three managers that David Wright has played for has ever told him he’s the captain of the team. Sure, with the departure of Jose Reyes, Wright is now the longest-tenured Met but that doesn’t necessarily translate into putting a “C” across his jersey. In fact, the Mets haven’t had a team captain since John Franco was the captain during Wright’s rookie season.
When things go wrong for the Jets, Mark Sanchez is an easy person to point to and be like, “If you hadn’t gotten sacked six times, we might have had a chance!”
In football, you’re either not getting enough offense or defense. If Mark Sanchez isn’t throwing touchdown passes, then it doesn’t matter what Derelle Revis and the defense do. The defense can still have a shoddy day if Mark Sanchez throws touchdown passes. So, even though the team’s defense had a bad outing, it still comes back to Mark Sanchez.
Earl Weaver once said that the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same–pitching. Because of that, I believe that David Wright can have an off day and scoot by, especially if the starter on the mound has a bad outing (I’m looking at you, Mike Pelfrey). Even though he doesn’t have the weight of the team on his shoulders, sometimes, David Wright does play as if he has the weight of the team on his shoulders. And with a team that was basically the Buffalo Bisons, maybe he was guilty of swinging when he shouldn’t have or throwing too quickly to first or whatever. But every time something goes wrong for the Mets, it won’t necessarily come back to David Wright.
Both David Wright and Mark Sanchez have gotten their due from the New York sports media. However, I feel that David Wright may be one of the few cases where the New York sports media has been fair. They’re not afraid to say when it is David Wright’s fault, but they’ll also highlight whenever he has a charity dinner and what not. Mark Sanchez, because he has been labeled the team leader, may not often recieve the benefit of the doubt. In recent days, players have labeled Sanchez as “lazy” and have accused Sanchez of lacking the leadership skills needed of a good quarterback. But it doesn’t matter that during the labor dispute, Sanchez organized private workouts for more than 40 of his teammates.
David Wright and Mark Sanchez are not Derek Jeter and Eli Manning. But they are the faces of their franchises nonetheless, and I’m sure we’ll continue to scrutinize and praise them more than the other guys on the team.
In baseball, the expression “there’s always next year” is used on a regular basis. I mean, the Cubs have been saying “there’s always next year” for 103 years. But next year for the Mets might not be 2012, or even 2013. For the Mets, “there’s always next year” may very well be an omen for defeat, not words of encouragement for the impending season.
The top two pitching prospects in our farm system, Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey may not be ready until the 2014 season. What does that leave us for 2012? An ace that hasn’t pitched in 15 months, a knuckleballer who may or may not be a Met depending on how his Mount Kilimanjaro climb goes, a guy who was born to be a Met, a former rookie that hopefully doesn’t go into a sophomore slump, and a guy whose tongue I can make jokes about all day. Not exactly the greatest rotation ever.
In 2011, the rotation we had wasn’t the greatest on paper. But they got the job done. And “there’s always next year” might mean lowering an shoddy ERA, keeping the team in the game, or just keeping your tongue in your mouth for an entire inning.
The Mets offense took a hit when Jose Reyes skipped out and decided to wear a hideous uniform. But the Wilpon family was finally gracious enough to move in the Citi Field walls. And replace the medical staff. Replacing the medical staff may have actually been a key move. “There’s always next year” for the offense might mean that they actually stay on the field for close to 162 games, or it might be producing the RBIs and home runs you’re getting paid $15 million for. And for still some, it might mean finding a permanent spot on the team.
For some teams, great expectations mean making the playoffs. For others, it might mean keeping your head above water for as long as possible. For the Mets, I think great expectations mean preparing for the future. Terry Collins might not be the Mets manager of the future, but like it or not, he’s gonna be the guy that gets us there.