As Season’s End Draws Near

As we’ve now entered the final month of the Major League Baseball season (at least for our New York Mets), it’s clear that the Mets will not be playing into October.  Most Met fans have gotten past that delusion, and are looking to see what company line the front office will be giving us for 2011.

Well, before we get there, I think the most depressing thing that I’ve heard coming from the Mets clubhouse this season is that allegedly, some of the Mets players expressed a desire to be going with Jeff Francoeur to the Texas Rangers.

Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely understand why players would want off of the Mets, or more specifically to go to the Rangers, who are almost a playoff lock.  The issue I have with it is if these desires are being flat out stated, especially if it’s in the clubhouse.

Guess what guys, if you want to go to the playoffs….there are some things you can do.  Guys like Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran; I know you both dealt with injuries, but neither of you came within lightyears of reaching your expectations.  Both of you need to stay healthy, perform up to your ability, and in the case of Beltran, sacrifice for the team, Beltran should be playing rightfield with Angel Pagan manning centerfield.

If  you’re guys like Luis Castillo or Oliver Perez, you haven’t performed.  The fans don’t want you here.  We’ve been publicly trying to trade you.  Stop running your mouths about how unfair you feel the team is treating you.  If you really want out, then void your contract and get money somewhere else.

Every other player who may have voiced a desire to play somewhere else? Here’s what you can do: PLAY BETTER!

Teams that play well win.  It’s not always the team with the most talent, the team that spends the most money, or the team with the most history.  The teams that play best win.  Period.  This year, and over the past 5 years, the Mets have not played the best.  If there are players that want to make the playoffs, well, then they need only look around the clubhouse to see which of these players have underperformed or let the team down.  The players (and the roster creation) are the reason this team isn’t a playoff team, simple as that.

So please, Oliver, Luis, Carlos, and anyone else who may be clamoring  that they wish to be playing somewhere where the playoffs are within reach…blame yourselves.  Every player on this team has SOMETHING to blame themselves for.  No player has been anywhere NEAR perfect this season.  So please, don’t tell the media or each other that you want to go somewhere where you can make the playoffs.  Instead, look at yourself, and tell us Mets fans the following:

“I want to play somewhere that I can win…and I want CITI FIELD to be that place!”

Let's make Citi Field a House of Champions

Let’s Go Mets

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Life As A Mets Fan Since 2006

In a recent ESPN NY article, David Wright speaks about how his life and career have changed since 2006, the year we all thought the Mets would be celebrating their third World Series Championship.

“The ’06 playoffs were the best time I’ve had playing baseball,” said Wright, who is hitting .295 with 21 homers and 86 RBIs this season. “The energy and excitement of playing baseball here in New York kind of stands alone.

“It is tough to imagine that until you really experience it. You turn the intensity up 100 times. It seems like every pitch is do or die. It is true. Any one pitch can send you home pretty quickly, like we learned. I love the fact that everyone is hanging on every pitch. The fans are into it from, literally, hours before the game. You turn the intensity and the energy up 100 times for what it normally is.”

Well, David, 2006 was the best time for most of us younger Mets fans too.  All season, we “ran roughshod” as Gary Cohen would say over the entire National League.  Looking back, I remember that 9-1 roadtrip where we scored in the first inning in (nearly?) every game, concluding with domination of the Phillies.

Since then, the Mets have been incredibly inconsistent.  They have had hot streaks and cold streaks, and unfortunately more of the latter.  They have been ravaged by injury, by lack of depth, by lack of talent and by poor contracts, among other things.

“We haven’t been able to consistently be that team,” Wright said. “I thought we created a lot to build on in ’06, but it seems like we have taken some steps back, off of that year. It is frustrating being able to experience that, but not being able to experience that on a consistent basis.”

We all thought that the team would only get better David.  In 1986, the Mets won the World Series, and most fans felt as though it was the start of a dynasty that would last a while.  20 years later, we lost in Game 7 of the NLCS, and felt that we’d be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.

Well, it’s been 4 seasons since, and we haven’t reached the playoffs once.  Our window of opportunity is starting to close.  Wright and Reyes are in their prime, but won’t be young forever.  Johan and Beltran are passing through their prime.  We can’t wait forever…or our possible dynasty will be just a flicker in the night, and nothing more.  We’ll have had one great year with a terrible ending, and followed it up with two collapses, a year of epic fails, and a year of mediocrity.  The Mets need to right themselves, before it’s too late.

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Offering A Near Ultimatum

Yesterday, an article was posted on ESPN New York that I urge all Mets fans not to read, for their own sanity.

In  this article, much maligned pitcher Oliver Perez states his desire to return to the Mets for next season.  He also adds “I’d like to have a championship, and I know the fans want to have one too”.  Well, Ollie, do you know what the fans REALLY want?  They want you gone.  And with good reason.

You’ve pitched just 43 innings all season, none of them particularly exciting for anyone.  You’ve been hurt, you’ve lost your velocity, and you never had command.  You’ve been miserable in absolutely every aspect of the sport of baseball, and your contract is an albatross around the neck of our favorite team.  So, as much as you can be politically correct and state your desire to stay here and win here, don’t fault us as fans for wanting you gone.

Personally, I can’t imagine any way that Omar Minaya or whoever the GM is over the offseason doing everything in their power and more to rid the organization of this selfish man who wouldn’t accept a minor league assignment despite warning that he was near unusable in the majors.  He’s forced the Mets to play for nearly 2 months with a 24 man roster, and when he has pitched, he hasn’t been good.

If Oliver Perez thinks he can still be a good starting pitcher at the major league level…well, he’s wrong.  Oliver Perez is, I’m sure, a decent human being who tries to be the best he can be.  But right now, he’s being selfish, and he’s not performing.  He needs to go.

If the Mets bring back Ollie for 2011, it’s a sign of one of three things.  Either they couldn’t find any team willing to take him for ANYTHING, regardless of what else the Mets need to throw in, they are truly run by complete morons, or they are money hungry men who don’t care about success or fans’ happiness just their bottom line.

Well guess what Wilpons, Mets fans will NOT keep coming to the stadium if you keep metaphorically kicking us in the family jewels.  Mets fans aren’t stupid.  You have the offseason to rid our stadium and our organization of the trash that is Ollie, Luis Castillo, and Jeff Francoeur.  Yeah, read that back, I said OUR stadium and OUR organization.  You may run it, but we are your constituents, and if you don’t work for us…we’ll find a way to get rid of you and get someone who will.

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Dickey Almost Blows It…Castillo Slaps Mets To Victory

The Mets have climbed their way over the Marlins into 3rd place in the division, and within 7 game of the wild card with their victory last night.  R.A. Dickey had a good start until a missed call and a bad pitch almost cost the Mets the game in the 7th inning.  With men on first and third and one out, Dickey appeared to have picked off the runner on first (I believe it was Hanley Ramirez), only to have him called safe.  The batter proceeded to pop out for the 2nd (should have been 3rd) out.  Then the next batter was Gaby Sanchez who hit a 3 run HR to give the Marlins a 5-4 lead.

Thankfully, Angel Pagan, Carlos Beltran, and Luis Castillo (shocking, I know!) fought tooth and nail and won the game 6-5.  Pagan’s hustle on a base hit to rightfield and turning it into a double, Beltran’s game tying hit, and Luis Castillo’s walkoff single were all exciting to watch, as the Mets turned in their most exciting and enjoyable game in a while.

Castillo gets the walkoff treatment

This is the kind of effort that Met fans like seeing.  It’s great to see the team fight to the finish even when Dickey didn’t have his best stuff.  Beating Josh Johnson is also a nice bonus, the Mets have beaten him twice this year, something most teams can’t say.

A hot streak right now would give the Mets a shot to be playing meaningful games towards the end of September, and while that hasn’t boded well for the Mets the last few times the end of the season meant something, after last year, and the second half of this year, I’ll take it.

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Can Anything Stop The Animal?

Chris Carter certainly isn’t unstoppable (or is he?), but last night he was a key part of the Mets 7-2 victory.  The Mets got offense from Carter (2 hits, 2 RBI, HR), Jose Reyes and David Wright (3 hits, 2 Runs, and a Stolen Base each).  Mike Pelfrey pitched well once again, giving up just one earned run in his 8 innings of work.

This is exactly how the Mets need to play to win.  They’ve been far to inconsistent with both their hitting and pitching.  The Mets need to have Reyes and Wright lead the way almost daily, they need 6-7 solid innings from their starters (especially Johan, Dickey, Niese, and Pelf), and they need to fight hard for every game.  As much as every loss makes me believe the Mets are done, they do have a puncher’s chance.

The stretch run gives us a bunch of games against the Mets and Phillies, as well as a few more against the Astros and Pirates, and if the Mets can play like they did last night, they might be able to at least regain some dignity, if not get back in a race.

Chris Carter has shown signs of being a pretty good hitter.  He isn’t a stellar defensive outfielder…he isn’t a stellar defensive anything, but if his hitting is consistently good, and he brings the intensity we’ve seen from him literally since his first at bat this season…especially with Jason Bay out, he needs to be in the lineup on a semi-regular basis.

Carter is an animal.  He’s ferocious, and you can just see it in his eyes.  I (and many other Met fans) love Carter’s intensity and his tendency to stalk the dugout as if he’s stalking his prey…but also his desire (and commitment) to winning.  Every quote I’ve heard from The Animal has him saying that he still believes in this team, and that this season is NOT over.  And the more I hear it, the more I believe him.  I think that Carter is an example of the kind of pieces this team needs.  He’ll almost definitely never be a star, but if you surround a talented core of players with more guys like The Animal…you can certainly build a winner.

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Good News, Bad News

Last night was a solid win for these Mets.  They won a game in extra innings.  Albeit against a terrible team, but they won…and in doing so, they put themselves in line for what COULD be their first road series win against an NL team all season.  Yes, that’s right, they haven’t won a road series within their own league all year.  In fact, the only road series’ they have won were against the Orioles and Indians….remember those?  Exactly.

R.A. Dickey pitched damn well again.  It has begun to get difficult to come up with new Dickey jokes, you know, the ones that make a pun out of the fact that R.A.’s last name is a slang term for male genitalia…

Well, last night Dickey gave it all he had, went deep, and satisfied his fans.

The bad news from last night is on the injury (illness?) front.  David Wright was removed from the game in the 12th inning…and while keeping tabs on the game from my cell phone, I personally got scared it would be far worse.  With no lineup related reason to remove Wright, and no double switch, I expected him to have torn his knee, the cherry on top of the past 2 seasons.  But all reports now indicate that he as light headed and nauseous, perhaps just a simple flu.  The flu would make sense, as apparently Josh Thole had similar symptoms.

Hopefully Wright doesn’t miss much time, and hopefully the Mets can win this series tonight, and hopefully they can turn it around.  The only one of those things that I’d bank on is DW coming back sooner than later though.

More good news came in the form of another R.A…..

Robert Allen Parnell, that is.  Bobby came in last night and pitched 2 scoreless innings, striking out 3, and lighting up the radar gun from all reports.  He seems to have hit 100+ a couple times during the outing, and the way he’s pitching, he should be the Mets closer for as long as K-Rod is gone.

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Last Chance

The Mets head on a road trip today that will last 7 games against the only two NL teams with worse offenses than the Mets themselves.  Facing Houston for 4 games and Pittsburgh for 3 gives the Mets a slight chance of crawling back in the direction of the wild card race, perhaps.  After the road trip, the Mets then play 6 games again the Marlins and Astros.  With 13 straight games against teams worse than they are, the Mets have an opportunity.

The Mets turn Jon Niese tonight knowing that the more they waste these opportunities (see: Arizona series, road trip vs Atlanta and Philly, etc), the less likely it is that they can match the talk coming from the front office and the players that “it’s not over”.

Once again, the Mets have a chance to right themselves.  The offense needs to come alive, starting with David Wright and Carlos Beltran.  Neither have been the offensive stars they can be since the All-Star Break, and neither has been particularly effective recently.  Ike Davis has struggled, and the offense as a whole needs a spark.  The pitching has been outstanding, and that needs to continue.  But, unless both the hitter, and pitching come alive (and the fielding improves), there’s no way the Mets can claim to be alive, let alone a serious contender.

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Mets Loaded Up With Dead Weight

It’s been said over and over.  The Mets are struggling this season, and a major factor in that is that the team is essentially playing with a 22 man roster.  Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez, and Jeff Francoeur do not belong on Major League teams.  Already, Francoeur and Castillo have expressed their willingness to be traded, stating that they believe they are everyday players.

Well guess what, Jeff and Luis? You’re not.

Perez, Castillo, and Francoeur have been wastes of roster space this season

Luis: In case you haven’t noticed, the Mets have been trying to trade you for over a year now.  Also, you said in your quotes “I can’t be here anymore…I know I’m not going to be here next year.”  Well Luis, no Met fan has wanted you here since you dropped the pop up in the Yankee game.  You had a statistically decent year last year when it meant nothing, and you’ve been nothing but injury prone and ineffective otherwise.  Mets fans have wanted you gone for Orlando Hudson each of the last two offseasons, and if you want out, then grant the Mets freedom from your contract, just leave.

Jeff: Did you notice that Joe Posnanski wrote an entire article about the worst everyday players in MLB?  And shockingly to no one except yourself and your agent, you made his list.  Let’s see what Posnanski had to say:

Jeff Francoeur is simply not a good enough hitter to play every day in the big leagues. Nobody is happy about this. Francoeur is by all accounts a terrific guy, he plays hard, he cares a lot, he has some defensive value. But, no matter how hard he tries, he cannot make the adjustments. His .295 on-base percentage this year is not good enough to be an every day outfielder. Everybody who knows Frankie loves the guy, which is why he leads all of baseball in “Adjustment Could Pay Off This Time” stories. But after a rookie rush that landed him on the cover of Sports Illustrated, he has now had more than 4,000 plate appearances with a .307 on-base base percentage.

And dare I even address Oliver?  I’m not sure what I can even say.  Ollie…you’ve been worth NEGATIVE money this year.  You are worse than a replacement player.  And that’s not talking about an R.A. Dickey type replacement player, I’m saying that you are probably worse than half my buddies who play pickup softball.  Yet, you refuse a minor league assignment, because you don’t think it’d benefit you.  You think you need to figure it out in the majors.  Well, all you’re doing is costing the organization that made you rich any chance at the playoffs.  Even your teammates don’t want you sticking around.

These three players have been nothing but albatrosses around the neck of the Mets organization.  The Mets cannot win with a 22 man roster, no team can.  And until the Wilpons open their eyes, realize that the money for these players is already out the door, and cut ties with them ASAP, it won’t matter who the manager is, their hands will be tied.

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35 One Hitters

Last night, R.A. Dickey threw the 35th one hitter in New York Mets history, the 27th of which that was a complete game for the starting pitcher.  In discussing this with a couple of women, including my mother, the consistent response I got was that it reminded them of the movie “27 dresses”.  The old “always the bridesmaid, never the bride” idea.  And I think that is kinda appropriate.  The Mets so often have been THAT close to a no-hitter, and yet, they’ve never had it happen.

In fact, 16 different pitchers have thrown no-hitters either before joining the Mets, or after leaving the team.  You can read more about those pitchers here and here.  Nolan Ryan, as most baseball fans know, even threw SEVEN no hitters after leaving the Mets.

Even worse for R.A. Dickey last night was that the sole base hit was earned by the opposing pitcher, Cole Hamels.  Hamels was already high on many Mets fans’ hate lists thanks to his “choke artist” comments.  Now he will join players like Jimmy Qualls and LeRon Lee on the list of less than stellar hitters to break up Mets no-hitters.

7,759 games.  That’s how many games the Mets have played without a single no hitter.  Seven thousand seven hundred fifty nine.  Maybe it will eventually happen…maybe it won’t.  The Mets and the Padres (a team just 7 years younger than the Mets) are the only franchises without no-hitters.  Who knows if any Met will ever pitch a no-no?  From Seaver to Heilman to Dickey, many have come close.  But for now, the Mets lead the MLB with 37 one-hitters, and on a day where R.A. Dickey came as close as he did, that’s enough for me.

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Mets vs. Phillies 8/13-8/15

New York Mets (57-57, fourth place/NL East) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (64-50, second place/NL East)

Probable Pitchers

Friday: R.A. Dickey (7-5,2.65) vs Cole Hamels (7-8, 3.45)
Saturday: Pat Misch (11-4, 3.23 in AAA) vs Roy Halladay (14-8, 2.34)
Sunday:  Mike Pelfrey (11-6, 3.95) vs Kyle Kendrick (7-5, 4.60)

Series Outlook

The Mets have managed to hang by a thread onto their hopes to be in contention.  While almost no Met fans actually believe the team will compete, there have been bigger comebacks both happy and miserable (1969 Mets, 2007 Phillies, etc.)  They won their series against the Rockies, and after this Phillies series, the Mets have 13 games against the Astros, Pirates, and Marlins, all of whom have been worse than the Mets.

If the Mets can win (or even better sweep) this series, they can maybe pull themselves into a race, or at least fool us fans into thinking they are in it.  The pitching matchups seem to favor the Phillies, and with K-Rod unavailable for at least tonight’s game if not the whole series, the Mets may have trouble winning this series.

The Mets have thrown 17 shutouts this season, 3 of which came in consecutive games against the Phils in late May.  The pitching, led by Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey, and first half-Mike Pelfrey, has buoyed the inconsistent offense, and the Mets need that to continue.

Hopefully David Wright, Carlos Beltran, and the rest of the offense can get back to how good we know they are and give the pitching some more leeway.  Wright got the day off yesterday, and should come back today well rested.  Jose Reyes has started to run more, and is starting to look like the Reyes of old.  If anything, the Mets probably won’t compete this year, but this naive fan is starting to believe they might in 2011…

Let’s Go Mets!

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