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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The Santana Mindset

If there’s one thing I love about Johan Santana, it’s his pure baseball and athletic ability.

If there’s two things I love about Johan Santana, it’s his mindset when the team needs a victory.  As we saw in the second to last game of 2008, when the Mets need a victory, Johan is going to get it.  Doesn’t matter the opponent, how many pitches he throws, or what kind of stuff he has that day, Johan won’t give in.

Prior to last night’s game, Francisco Rodriguez was suspended for at least two games by the Mets.  Knowing the only sure thing in his bullpen wouldn’t be available and that his team couldn’t afford to lose another series.

Johan demanded the ball for 9 innings, and threw a complete game shutout.  What’s more shocking is what he told Jerry before the game:

“Right before the game, I told Jerry that I was ready for ten innings…That was my mindset…I was focused to help this ballclub and go deeper in the game, especially after what happened [on Wednesday] night on the field.”

For the 15th time this season, Johan allowed one earned run or less.  He also leads the league having pitched 7+ shutout innings 7 times this year.

Santana has been nothing short of a winner since joining the Mets

There’s been a lot written that Johan wants to win, and might wish he hadn’t come to the Mets, but the fact of the matter is, Johan is a winner.  Wherever he pitches, he’s going to do everything he can to win.  Pitching 10 innings, hitting Home Runs, if he had to manage the team and make pitching changes, he’d do that too.  Johan is the kind of pitcher every team wants on their roster…and for more than simply his talent and statistics.

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For These Mets…Anything Is Possible

…and not in the good way.

The Mets haven’t been very good on the baseball diamond, but unfortunately this year, that’s not where their misfortune ends.  Johan Santana has been dealing with rape accusations, and now, Francisco Rodriguez is being charged with 3rd degree assault after an altercation with his father-in-law after last night’s game.

After the game, K-Rod and his father in law were involved in an altercation that included K-Rod throwing a punch.  The father in law suffered an abrasion to his face and head injuries, and security physically removed K-Rod from a private area of the clubhouse where he was taken into custody.

Because this is considered domestic violence, charges are brought forth against K-Rod regardless of the father in law’s wishes.

Man, presumably K-Rod's father in law, is loaded into an ambulance last night

At this point, there’s no hyperbole that is out of the realm of possibility for the Mets.  I mean, their married ace is being charged with rape.  Their star closer punches his father in law in the stadium.  What’s next?  Jeff Francoeur loses his bat, killing a fan in the stands?  Oliver Perez is throwing long toss and accidentally hits David Wright in the face?  Anything is in play for these Mets, and that’s definitely not good.

As for K-R0d he is still being held in the holding cell in Citi Field’s centerfield as of gametime.  In terms of roster moves, he was placed on the restricted list and Ryota Igarashi has been recalled.  Any chances the Mets had of miraculously challenging the Braves and Phillies just got slimmer.

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A Horrifying Alternate Universe

It’s a story that’s been written by other bloggers before, and especially well by Chris Wilcox of Blue and Orange dot net, but to this day it amazes me how different the Mets could be today if certain proposed trades had happened, or if opposing GM’s had the benefit of hindsight.  As many Mets fans have read, ex General Manager (and pariah) Steve Phillips ran the team from 1997 until 2003.  In that time, Phillips built the 2000 World Series team…but also attempted to trade away two of today’s best Mets.

When the Mets traded for absolute bust Roberto Alomar in 2001, they traded away “top prospect” Alex Escobar.  While unfortunate at the time, Escobar turned out to be a bust.  What wasn’t noted at the time was that Phillips attempted to negotiate a deal with the Indians that allowed the Mets to keep Escobar, and instead send a low-A shortstop….named Jose Reyes.

That same offseason, Phillips attempted to acquire Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Cruz Jr.  Cruz was a mediocre player from that point on in his career, but he was probably no worse than the Roger Cedenos and Jeromy Burnitzes that played the outfield for the Mets of the early 2000’s.  When Phillips called Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi about Cruz, however, he offered a low-A third baseman….named David Wright.

Let’s just ponder that for a moment.  Phillips attempted to trade the two biggest pieces of the current Mets core (admittedly before they were sure things) for two players who didn’t have a particularly good  year left in their careers.  And sure, we have the benefit of hindsight, but it’s incredible to think about how different the team would be had Phillips’ mistakes been accepted by other GM’s.

Phillips’ assistant Jim Duquette is known for trading stud prospect Scott Kazmir for bust Victor Zambrano just 3 years later, and because Phillips’ moves, he tends to get less criticism (although, plenty all the same).

Can you imagine if the Mets had traded away Wright, Reyes, and Kazmir in a 3 year span?  Mets fans curse Duquette to this day over Kazmir who never turned out to be what was expected of him.  If Wright or Reyes had been traded away, Phillips would arguably be considered the worst GM of the decade.  The Mets would never have had the financial flexibility with Alomar and Cruz to go after Pedro Martinez, Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, etc.  Perhaps some of those guys still come to the Mets, but even so, they play in Queens without Wright and Reyes.  The Mets wouldn’t have been NL East Champs in 2006, and they certainly wouldn’t have been in position to collapse in 2007.  The team would be even more of a laughingstock than some fans will have you believe they already are.

I guess the point of this post is…as bad as things are…when you’re a Mets fan…they could have been exponentially worse.

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Another Day, Another Loss

Coming off last night’s 1-0 victory over the Phils, the Mets had a shot to win their first road series against an NL team, and maybe even catapult themselves back into the playoff chase.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and the Mets still have not won consecutive games since June 22 and 23.  With the loss the Mets fell back to a game below .500.

The Mets went on this road trip knowing their season was on the line and needing to win at least 4 of 6 against the Braves and Phillies.  Instead, they lost 4 of 6, and they’ve fallen to 9 games out of the division. As the series losses pile up (the Mets have yet to win a series on the road against an NL team), their season continues rolling down the path towards an early offseason.

R.A. Dickey struggled in what was probably his worst game of the season, lasting just 3 innings and surrendering 6 runs.  He never seemed comfortable throwing either of his knuckleballs, throwing almost as many fastballs as knuckleballs in the first inning.  His stuff didn’t fool the Phillies today, they didn’t chase pitches, and managed to fight off even the good pitches Dickey made.

R.A. Dickey struggled in Philly giving up 6 runs in 3.0 innings

The offense scratched 2 runs across on Halladay early thanks to a Jose Reyes double, an Angel Pagan RBI single, 2 Pagan stolen bases, and an RBI infield single for Ike Davis.  The Phillies earned one back in the 2nd on a Jayson Werth Home Run that Carlos Beltran might have been able to rob had he not misjudged his position on the warning track.  In the third, the Phillies scored 5 runs on a Jose Reyes error and 7 hits, including a 3 run Home Run for Raul Ibanez and an RBI single by ex-Met Brian Schneider.  Reyes’s error was his third of the road trip, and each of the three has led to unearned runs that may have cost the Mets a game.

Jose Reyes bobbled a grounder in the 3rd that led to 5 runs

The Mets bullpen was solid, and the offense clawed back into the game pulling to within 6-5, and even getting the tying run into scoring position in the 9th.  Unfortunately, a Chris Carter groundout and a Jose Reyes fly out failed to bring Josh Thole in from 2nd, and Brad Lidge managed to close out a series win for the Phillies.

The Mets have a 6 game homestand against the Rockies and Phillies, and if they don’t win at least 4 of those games, they can probably change their stance from one eye on 2010 and one on 2011 to both eyes on the future.  With young players like Ike Davis, Fernando Martinez, and Ruben Tejada getting the majority of the starts down the stretch (so says Jerry Manuel…for now), the Mets may at least maintain a shred of intrigue, unlike the unfortunate stretch run last year.

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