The Road to Port St. Lucie

In 39 short days, Mets pitchers and catchers will report to Port St. Lucie for spring training. And in 11 shorter days, my brother and I will be trying to decide when we both can go to Port St. Lucie to catch a game.

I live approximately two and a half hours away from the re-named Tradition Field. The Red Sox and Twins train nearby with the Rays just 40 minutes up the road. I saw a number of Red Sox and Twins players at work, including former Met Mike Pelfrey (he was really nice, by the way).

Despite the fact that my family and I moved to Florida in 1999, we didn’t actually go to spring training until 2006. My dad packed my brothers and I up and we drove the two and half hours to pre-Digital Domain Tradition Field. It was a fun time; we followed Omar Minaya to his car and asked about Pedro Martinez’s injured toe. My brother and I waited two hours by the third base line and I finally got David Wright’s autograph as they were sending people back to their seats. It was basically the highlight of my Mets fandom.

In 2007, I tried to duplicate my luck with the Mets as the away team, only to be trampled and clutching Howard Johnson’s autograph as a consolation prize. Fred Wilpon signed my hat and asked me how I had gotten Gary Carter to sign the same exact hat. I remember Fred mingling with the fans; he was actually out there longer than any of the players, including Ramon Castro, who couldn’t get to the team bus quicker.

More recently, I’ve stuck to the games in my area. Granted, a lot of the starters didn’t make the long bus ride. But that was okay because I got to see most of our prospects. I knew my Buffalo Bisons better than anyone there. There was the time I got nine autographs in two days and I remember Justin Turner asking me if I already had an autograph. Daniel Murphy gave his bat to a kid and I think the kid’s father was more excited than him.

I have nothing but good memories about spring training. Even the bad memories, I can laugh about in jest. At least once, I think every Mets fan should come down to Florida for a game. If they have half as many stories as I do, they’ll remember this trip for a long time.


Expect Ike Davis in Port St. Lucie

alg_mets_ike-davisIke Davis is expected to start the year in Port St. Lucie as Sandy Alderson’s attempts to trade the first baseman remain unsuccessful. Even though the Brewers and Orioles remain interested, the Mets have been shot down when asking for pitching prospects Tyler Thornburg and Eduardo Rodriguez.

Starting out camp with the Mets and making it to the Opening Day roster are two completely different things. The Brewers and the Orioles expect Davis to be cut, which would cost the Mets $600,000 instead of paying Ike his $4 million salary. Why should they trade away a pitching prospect when Ike could be cut in a few weeks? There are free agent options available such as Michael Young and Kendrys Morales; Ike Davis is not the big name on the first base market.

Davis, for his part, genuinely wants to stay with the Mets.

Ike Davis and Lucas Duda will probably end up competing for the job and if Ike does remain a Met throughout spring training, he will probably get the first shot on Opening Day. However, the Mets believe that Lucas Duda has more potential in the long-term and seem more invested in his future. Plus, it’s a fun name to say. Say it: Lu-cas Du-da. See? You had fun! Or, you can go the Tim McCarver route and say Lu-cas Doo-dah. But that just makes me want to break out into song.

The organization has already said that they are comfortable with Ike in camp; I expect it to be a matter of time before we have a resolution.


What’s the deal with Stephen Drew?

mets_logoThroughout the offseason, there have been rumors about Stephen Drew coming to the Mets. As the offseason winds down and spring training rapidly approaches, the rumors about Stephen Drew have only intensified.

MLB Trade Rumors is reporting that the Mets front office is divided on Drew. However, a post on MetBlog reiterates that the Mets are the most logical landing point for Drew, but he could still return to Boston.

If a deal happens for Drew, don’t expect it to go beyond a year or two. Adam Rubin indicates that if Drew were to take a shorter deal, he would remain in Boston. Because of that, Drew’s agent, Scott Boras, could be using the Mets to drive up the price on Drew.

The Mets would need to shed payroll, which could mean trades of Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, and/or Lucas Duda. Acquiring Drew would also cost the Mets their third round draft pick. The Mets’ second round pick is already in possession of the Yankees after signing Curtis Granderson. A trade of Davis, Murphy and/or Duda would make my already out-of-date Mets calendar even more out-of-date.

As of right now, it looks like Ruben Tejada will once again be at shortstop on Opening Day. Yes, very same the Ruben Tejada that lost his job to Omar Quintanilla last year. Tejada proved to be an ample defensive replacement after the departure of Jose Reyes but his bat doesn’t have any pop. His work ethic was also called out last year. The organization has already come out and said that they are comfortable with Tejada starting the year at short. At this point, the organization doesn’t have any choice.

I’m on the fence about Stephen Drew myself. I’m not sure the front office is comfortable with the idea of losing two top draft picks after having their first round pick protected. At the same time, I don’t think any of the front office, coaches and players would object to the obvious upgrade at short. The fans would welcome him with open arms, literally. At this point, I think we would be happy with any kind of resolution, whether we sign Drew or not.

Mike Piazza and the Hall of Fame

piazza1Someone is getting inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame this year.

After players were shut out of the 2013 class, the 2014 class has some big names including Mike Piazza.

With 21.6% of the vote in, Piazza still falls short, appearing on 71.5% of the ballots. A player needs 75% of the vote to be elected to the Hall of Fame. In 2013’s shutout, Piazza had garnered 57.8% of the vote. Whoever voted for Aaron Sele remains my baseball hero to this day.

I think Mets fans, in particular, are anxious to see Piazza get elected; Tom Seaver remains the only Mets representative in the Hall of Fame. Piazza has openly desired in numerous interviews and his book, Longshot, his desire to be inducted in the Hall of Fame as a Met.

And why shouldn’t he be? He holds the record for most home runs hit by a catcher. He’s a 10-time Silver Slugger winer and appeared in 12 All Star games. From 1998-2005, Mike Piazza was the Mets.

I think the only thing that might prevent Piazza from being a Hall of Famer this year is a heavily loaded 2014 class. So far, Greg Maddux appears on every ballot reported and Tom Glavine appeared on 91.7% of the ballots reported. I’m looking forward to seeing the results of this particular ballot, because the players on this ballot are the ones that came out of the steroid era mostly unscathed. The last few ballots have always intrigued me because of that.

Whether it be this year, next year, or the year after that, I look forward to seeing Mike Piazza inducted into the Hall of Fame. And I look forward to seeing him inducted as a Met.

Moneyball vs. Money Ball

mets_logoIn the 2012 offseason, after the Mets had extended David Wright for eight more years and traded R.A. Dickey for Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard, I got the sense that the Mets were preparing for a winning year eventually, and not in 2013.

This year, the giant elephant in the room was our outfield, or lack thereof. In the regular season, our outfield was one of the least productive, if not the least productive, when it came to getting on base and scoring runs.

This is where my inner Billy Beane comes in. We signed Chris Young, who we can all probably agree is overpaid. Okay, okay, Chris Young is a career .235 hitter and his on-base percentage is .315, but any Mets fan who religiously checks the stats would have to agree that Chris Young’s “eh” numbers are better than any Baxter/Duda/Nieuwenhuis combination. Besides, Duda’s more comfortable at first, in my opinion.

Our big splash came in signing Curtis Granderson. Granderson is getting paid to bat behind David Wright and provide him protection in the lineup. Granderson is getting paid to make pitchers pitch to David Wright. With Ike Davis or Lucas Duda batting behind Wright, why would you pitch to Wright when you can get the next guy out? Wright would be walking more than Barry Bonds. But Granderson’s career average (.261) and on-base percentage (.340) are only 25 points better than Young’s. Again, Granderson is considered an upgrade from the entire 2013 Mets outfield.

In the 21st century, baseball has become more of a game about numbers and stats and less of a romantic game. Oh sure, nothing beats a walk off homer, but if the hitter goes 0-for4 with three strikeouts the next day, the walk off victory is old news.

If you had asked me in 2013 if I thought the Mets were a Moneyball team, I probably would have told you yes. Except without the playoff appearance. And the 20-game win streak. Or any win streak greater than three. But the 2013 Mets remained on-par with the 2012 Mets and we really can’t complain about that.

Now that the Mets have gone out and spent their money on Chris Young, Curtis Granderson, and Bartolo Colon, I don’t know if I would consider them a real Moneyball team. David Wright takes up 20% of the team’s salary by himself and one would hope/expect that Matt Harvey would soon take up another nice chunk. So the Mets aren’t a Moneyball team, but they are a Money Ball team.

What I mean by that is that the Mets do have some money to go out and spend. But they didn’t throw $210 million at Robinson Cano. They did offer a little bit more money than I would have offered Chris Young or Bartolo Colon, but the Mets filled in quite a few blanks this offseason. We, as fans, don’t have to go into another spring wondering who will get the outfield positions and is this guy going to crack the rotation or not. The way I see it, the team is pretty much set, with the exception of a few roles that I expect to be filled in spring training.

There are still moves to be made, with Sandy Alderson shopping Ike Davis around for young relief pitching, but I’m feeling a little more optimistic about this team than I have in the last two years. Maybe this is the year we crack .500.

From WFAN to WOR: Smooth Transition

MetsBlog is reporting that Josh Lewin expects to move from WFAN to WOR, though the details are being worked out.

When the deal was announced in early November, it had been announced that Howie Rose would also make the switch over to WOR, though Ed Coleman could end up staying at WFAN.

A lot of Mets fans, myself included, will miss the snazzy WFAN jingle. But it’s not like we don’t have YouTube for those kind of things. To be perfectly honest, I had forgotten all about the move to WOR until I was in the JetBlue terminal at JFK. I usually hop over to the WFAN store and stock up on Mets pens, because one can never have too many Mets pens. I also got a pair of cozy pajama pants there, but I digress. There were no Mets pens to be had. Or cozy pajama pants. Or any Mets merchandise for that matter. It’s like the terminal forgot the Mets were also a professional sports team in New York.

I texted my brother to tell him of this sacrilege and he had to remind me that we are now on WOR. WOR, which kind of sounds like war.

Jumping over to WOR isn’t like moving from Citi Field to Shea Stadium. Shea was a dump, but it was our dump; Citi Field is only beginning to feel like home. I expect the move to WOR to be smooth, especially with Howie and Josh along for the ride. It’s the simple things in life like listening to the game on my phone from Florida that make me marvel at today’s technology. Moving radio stations isn’t like moving stadiums, but at least we don’t have to begrudingly listen to Mike Francesa anymore. Thanks, WOR!

Happy Mets Year!

January 1, 2014.

It’s the start of a new year, filled with new hopes and new dreams. Many people make resolutions to lose weight or to be more healthy, but let’s face it, by January 2nd, they’re stuffing their faces with McDonald’s.

As I turn the calendar from 2013 to 2014 and Daniel Murphy makes the first of his two appearances on my Mets calendar, my only thoughts came back to this blog and how I essentially abandoned it mid-way through 2013.

I don’t think it was a lack of passion for the team (as I type, I still proudly wear the orange and blue) or a lack of passion for the blog. Something inside myself just stopped and I resolved to never let that happen again in 2014, or ever. I resolved to pick this blog back up, whether anybody reads it or not because I want to write. I want to engage in discussion about the team, their free agency signings, etc. That’s why I enjoy Twitter so much (if you don’t already, follow my Twitter handle, @jessicabrooke5. I promise I won’t bite); it allows the platform for conversation. The beauty of Twitter is that people can agree and disagree with each other, but in the end, we are all Mets fans and that’s what matters. We celebrate a victory and lament a loss. We ream Terry Collins when he makes a bad pitching decision and we cheer David Wright when he hits a game-winning home run. We’re Mets fans; Mets fans are family.

So, here I am, typing away on the first day of the new year, just like I said I would. Resolutions take work and I realize that. Happy New Year, and don’t pig out on McDonald’s tomorrow.


There’s No Crying in Baseball

metsfanLast night, the Mets completed their second six game losing streak in as many weeks.

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.



You Gotta Like Their Chances

mets_logoThere’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.”

The Mets Played Spoilers Last Night

It’s not a sentence that’s typed very often, so I’m going to type it again: the Mets played spoilers last night.

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.



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