Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Win now - or build for the future?

Last week Josh Thole was reassigned to the Mets minor league camp, today Ike Davis joined him there. I expect that in the next week we will also see Fernando Martinez reassigned, and if Jose Reyes shows that he will be ready for Opening Day Rueben Tejada will also be sent down. The biggest variable is Jenrry Mejia - Mejia is turning quite a few heads, the most important one being that of manager Jerry Manuel. Mejia is making Manuel's decision to send the young pitcher back to Triple A very difficult with his stellar spring numbers.

As a Mets fan I find all of these things reason to be optimistic. Why? The optioning of all of these young, talented players down to the minor league communicates one major theme to me... the Mets front office and coaching staff expect this team to compete for a playoff spot.

If the Mets brass did not believe that they were in a position to compete for a playoff spot, there would be nothing keeping these players from taking over their respective major league positions. Consider for a moment the four most major league ready of the upper level minor league talent.

Fernando Martinez - Martinez is a right fielder with huge upside. He has recently dominated the Caribbean Series and has been on a tear throughout Spring Training. The player blocking him? Jeff Francouer, who is signed to a one-year deal worth little money and whom the Mets would not hesitate to part with if the position needed to be cleared for F-Mart.

Ike Davis - Davis is a 1st baseman with a sweet swing and plus power. He has trouble hitting lefties, and his glove is not the smoothest in the league. All of that being said, however, his inadequacies could be ironed out at the major league level where he could hit lower in the lineup and be asked to improve his patience and his glove without much pressure. This situation becomes even more feasible when you consider all of the question marks surrounding Daniel Murphy's future with the Mets and at 1st base.

Josh Thole - Thole is the Mets starting catcher at Triple A Buffalo and the plan is to apprentice him with veteran receiver Chris Coste. Thole is already a very good, very patient hitter - what he lacks is offensive power and the defensive skills needed by most major league catchers. The power will come as his body develops but how much more could Thole learn at the major league level, catching major league talent every day and being tutored by Henry Blanco or Rod Barajas?

Jenrry Mejia - Mejia has been brilliant in his few opportunities during this Spring Training. The Mets plan had been to send him back to Double or Triple A and let him continue to develop as a starter. He has had problems with his control and he could use another pitch as he continues to grow into a major league caliber pitcher. In the winter league this year Mejia's "stuff" was brilliant - enough to entice veteran scout and now journalist Keith Law to write "The most impressive arm so far has been Jenrry Mejia of the New York Mets, who was on a short pitch count but showed two above-average pitches and a chance for a third." and "The velocity comes easily, and if his command is better than what he showed on Wednesday and he can snap off that good curveball more frequently, he's a potential No. 1 or No. 2 starter." However throughout his time in the Arizona Fall league his control was erratic and he was not effective. Instead of more minor league seasoning and development could major league experience, first coming out of the bullpen and slowly as the year progressed lengthening him so that he could move into a starter's role be the best way to develop Mejia?

For all four of these up-and-coming Mets prospects many questions linger and the "right" choices on how to develop them will be debated. However, what I would like to point out is this; if the Mets did not consider themselves contenders I believe they would have made the decision to develop all of these players at the major league level in 2010. While you may argue that the front office is delusional (you may have a valid point there), I would say their confidence gives reason for optimism.

Mets lineup if the Front Office had moved to rebuild/retool:

SS Reyes, 2B Castillo, CF Beltran, 3B Wright, LF Bay, 1B Davis, RF F-Mart, C Thole

Mets rotation in same case:

SP Johan, SP Pelfrey, SP Niese, SP Mejia, SP Perez

I believe that the decision to develop these four specific players at the Triple A level for at least one more year is a telling signal from the front office that they indeed intend to compete in 2010. This could also be a signal that more moves to mold the team could be made in the coming weeks and months. I do not believe that Minaya will "rest on his laurels" this season, not with so much at stake. I just hope that in his attempt to make the playoffs this year he does not make a big mistake with one of these bright prospects.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Who's been impressing me?

In a continuing Spring Training dialogue with the guys at Hotstove, they recently asked about which Met players were opening eyes durin Spring Training this year.

We all know that Spring Training stats don’t mean much, but preseason performances can make a big difference for some players trying to the Major League club, or securing a starting job. Who among the Mets have helped or hurt themselves the most this spring?

Onan Coca, South of Shea
What seemed to be a nearly set roster at the start of Spring Training, has turned into quite a murky situation. Some young guns have really turned heads, while some veterans have played themselves out of sure roster spots. On the positive side; Ike Davis, Fernando Martinez, Jenrry Mejia, Hisanori Takahashi, and Chris Carter have all played themselves into consideration (though I would surmise only Takahashi will break camp with the Big Club). On the negative side; Bobby Parnell, Sean Green, Mike Jacobs, Daniel Murphy have all played like they don’t mind bus rides through the International League and home games in Buffalo. However, the Mets think they can contend with their veterans this year and I expect that while Parnell may be sent to Buffalo to start the year the rest of the veterans will all still make the big league club. The Spring may not have much influence on how the Mets Opening Day roster looks, but I think it does shorten the rope which some of the borderline major leaguers have to hang themselves with. Expect to see some (if not all) of these young Mets on the roster before October.

I have really been impressed with the reports out of Port St. Lucie about new Mets players like Chris Carter and Hisanori Takahashi. I am also happy to see Fernando Martinez continuing his strong play from the Caribbean Series this winter, and Ike Davis has been absolutely raking (though word come down today that Davis was sent back to minor league camp). These young guys give me hope for this coming campaign in 2010... because if they don't make the team out of Spring Training it tells me that the Front Office and the coaching staff truly believe the Mets are a playoff contender in 2010. If they thought 2010 would be a rebuilding year, I think we would see Ike Davis, Fernando Martinez, Josh Thole, and Jenrry Mejia all getting the call up to be starters at the big league level. If the team didn't think there was a good shot at a playoff spot there would be no reason to hold these guys back.

To read the rest of the article from Hotstove, along with a few other bloggers takes on how Mets camp is going, click here.

Some fun links:
* Chris Carter is working hard to make the team.
* Jose Reyes will be back in camp tomorrow!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Should Fernando Martinez come up now?

Earlier today I contributed to the discussion over at about whether or not Pagan should start in Centerfield for the Mets - or if F-Mart should get the nod. Here was the question and my response:

With Carlos Beltran on the shelf until at least early May, would you like to see the Mets use top prospect Fernando Martinez in center to start the season, instead of Angel Pagan?

Onan Coca, South of Shea
I think the question of what to do with F-Mart is something that all Mets fans have at least discussed, if not debated, with other fans. I personally think that if everything shakes out this year (especially with health) the Mets have a reasonable chance at competing for the playoffs. Given that, I think it’s best that all of the Mets young guns who are on the cusp of making the team stay in the minors for another full season. F-Mart, Ike Davis, Josh Thole, Jenrry Mejia, plus a few other prospects who are close to making the leap — all need seasoning in one area or another and I would prefer they get a full season’s complement of at-bats and innings pitched, and the only way to do that is to stay in the minors for the 2010 season. If for some reason the Mets brass thought that this would basically be a “lost” season and that they would probably not be able to compete then my opinion would be different, but I don’t think we are there yet. All of that said, I do expect that these young guys will all be with the Mets when the rosters expand and the Minor League seasons come to an end (and Mejia might be in the big’s much sooner).

My argument is basically this; unless F-Mart (or any other prospect the team thinks may be ready for an every day job in the majors) will get significant and consistent playing time then he should be left in the minors. The "yo-yo method" of developing players does not work, and in fact only serves to retard the growth of the player. Let him get his hacks in the AAA and when there is room and he is ready... call him up.
The guys at Fonzie Forever got my back on this.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Too optimistic?

I had a great opportunity to get some free publicity for my blog and my writing in general on Friday afternoon. The guys over at one of my favorite baseball websites ( asked to interview me about my thoughts on the current state of my favorite team the New York Mets. I had a great time with them, and though I was nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs - I had a great time talking about one of my favorite subjects... baseball.
Well I thought it went pretty good and I got some good feedback from some readers who listened and some friends who caught the show, so I was feeling pretty good about myself. Then I saw this from the description of our video chat at their website:
"Onan takes a very optimistic view of the Mets’ chances this season, despite the injuries to Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, as well as the team’s suspect 2-5 spots in the rotation."

Now to be fair I am an optimist despite these things... but when I first read it I felt a little defensive. It sounds like I might be living in some fairy tale land a-wishin' and a-hopin' for some crazy fantasy outcome. I read over it a couple more times, and even watched the interview again and decided that I won't hold it against them. They are great guys and like I said, I am a huge fan of their site - But I am going to defend my "optimism" in spite of the points that they mentioned. First, here's the video of our chat.

Alright lets break down the reasons that the guys give for pessimism.
1. Jose Reyes' hyperthyroidism
2. Carlos Beltran's knee injury
3. The pitching staff (2-5 in the rotation)

All of these are great reasons to be pessimistic, but allow me to be little miss sunshine to the cloudy day that is the injuries to Reyes and Beltran. These two injuries taken together should not be reasons for pessimism but instead be reasons to celebrate if you are a Mets fan. Sure, if the injuries hadn't occurred things would be even better but imagine that in Beltran's case he decided to try and rehab through the start of the season and at some point in July everyone realized that he should have had the surgery. We (Mets fans collectively) would be screwed. Instead of losing Beltran midway through the season with a lingering knee injury, he will only miss a couple of weeks and (fingers crossed) actually be stronger upon returning from his knee injury rehab.
I would make a similar argument for Reyes - yes, it would be nice if no injury/sickness existed but finding out before the season starts and knowing it can be fixed before the season really gets going is a huge blessing. No one would want to lose Reyes midway through the year for a 2-8 week period - better that happen now, while most of that time is Spring Training.
Now the pitching staff... this is a harder area to look positively on. Pelfrey, Maine, and Perez have been a collective train wreck over the last two seasons. Yes, at different point each one has had their positive moments, but in general... train wreck. How can I find any reason to be optimistic here, you ask? Well, as I look at the rest of the National League I find that our pitching staff when healthy is actually as good or better than the majority of the league. I think our staff can go toe to toe with just about any staff in the league (with some notable exceptions IE; the Phils, Braves, Cards, and Giants). If (and it is a BIG IF) Maine can stay healthy, Pelfrey can stay out of his own way, and Oliver stops acting bi-polar... the Mets staff might just be alright. I actually think the #5 spot in our rotation will be a position of strength, no matter who wins the job out of camp. Takahashi, Niese, Figueroa, and Nieve all have different aspects of the game that they are good at and all could offer the Mets some great moments. I am pulling for Niese here, because he is a young guy with some nice upside and if he can make it - it could go a long way to settling our staff.
Am I a too optimistic? You be the judge, but like I said at the end of the interview... "I am an optimist, and this is Spring Training." If I can't be an optimist now, with Opening Day right around the corner...when can I be? Interview

I was a guest on live chat today for about half an hour we talked about anything and everything Mets...
Here's the video.

Surf over and check out the great work the guys are doing at hotstove.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How will Ollie do?

Yesterday I had the opportunity to contribute to the conversation over at about how confident I was that Oliver Perez would "bounce back" in 2010. Here is the question, and my response.

Oliver Perez looked very shaky in his first spring start on Sunday (5 runs on 7 hits in 3 innings). How confident are you that Perez will be able to return to the form this season that netted him his current 3-year, $36 million deal?

Onan Coca, South of Shea
Honestly, the form that got Oliver Perez his 3-year, $36 million deal was not really that good. Perez got his deal because of his upside and the fact that there were not any other great (cheaper) options on the Free Agent list in the 2008-2009 offseason. Last year he was probably the worst starting pitcher in baseball, and oddly enough, this is why I have a bit of optimism about Ollie in 2010. Look, he can’t really be any worse, can he? He and Dan Warthen have worked on his technique and mechanics, they have ironed out some past issues and hopefully that leads to him being better in 2010. I am not worried about his first spring training start because he only walked one batter and that is a HUGE improvement. If Ollie can limit the walks I think he can still be an above average pitcher…here’s hoping.

I don't think anyone expects Oliver Perez to ever be anything more than a league average pitcher. Sure, once upon a time he showed the "stuff" to maybe be great... but that was a long time ago, and a lot has changed since then. All of that being said, Oliver does have the chance to help the Mets win... all he has to do is be a little better than league average.

If you would like to see the responses of some of the other bloggers who took part in the discussion, look here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My favorite Mets - the 1980's

This is the second in a short series of articles on my 25 favorite Mets players as a one team roster. You can find the first part of the series here. A cursory look at my favorite Mets "team" makes something very clear - I have a special affinity for Mets players of the mid to late 1980's. Like any other Mets fan in their late 20's to early 30's the reason for this should be fairly clear... 1986. The Mets World Series win in 1986 was one of the foundational experiences of my baseball fandom. I was a young boy sitting in my parent's living room (way past my bed time) praying for a miracle, and when Mookie Wilson hit that ball my heart literally jumped into my throat. I knew it was an out, a slow roller towards first base - what else could the outcome be?
Then that glorious moment of awakening when I realized what baseball could do to a person, as the ball rolled lethargically between Bill Buckner's bowed legs, and I exploded in exultation! It was a moment that the most devious torture could not erase from my memory - it was a sudden, earth-shattering moment. Since that day I have been a passionate fan of all things baseball, especially my beloved Mets. I have experienced highs (1986 and 2006), and I have been dealt dramatic crushing blows into the depths of fanhood (the 90's and 2006). All because of that team of hard partying, good time having, "bad boys of baseball" ... the 1986 Mets.

Gary "the kid" Carter, Keith "the Captain" Hernandez, Howard Johnson, Mookie Wilson, Darryl Strawberry, Lenny "Nails" Dykstra, Dwight "Doc" Gooden, Roger McDowell, and so many more. I would have added even more names from the '86 squad but I needed to save room for a few other players! Why these eight guys over other members of the team? Gary Carter's effervescence was contagious, I couldn't help but have fun watching him play. Keith Hernandez was the model of what a good ballplayer should be studious, and careful - no one (ever) played defense at 1st base as well as he. Howard Johnson was my favorite player growing up, it was because of him that the only place I ever wanted to be on the diamond was 3rd base. Mookie Wilson was all out - and really - is there any other way to play the game? I can remember hearing the "Strawwwwwwwberry..." chants when I would watch the games on TV, and even on occasion when my parents would take me to the games at nearby Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. I'm not sure I have ever personally seen a better swing for launching baseballs into the atmosphere. Why is it that every time the camera panned to Lenny Dykstra sitting in the dugout, he was picking his nose? The way he prowled the outfield, as if every ball hit out there was a personal affront to him, was invigorating - just a blast to watch. Is there any doubt that if Doc Gooden had remained clean and sober that he would be a sure-fire Hall of Famer today? He had everything, and the best part about him as a ballplayer, was that when you watched him pitch you could tell he was just plain better than his opponents. Last of the bunch there is Roger McDowell - today he is the pitching coach for the much reviled Atlanta Braves, but in 1986 he was the court jester. McDowell was proof you could be good at what you do, and have a lot of fun doing it. It was fun to watch him and his teammates enjoy playing the game I was falling in love with.

Above all, the guys playing on that 1986 team are my favorites because they were my introduction to a whole new world of emotion. A connection with something that wasn't my family, or friends - a way to connect with complete strangers and share this passion for a kid's game. In 1994 the strike killed that youthful joy a lot of us had with baseball, we learned that for some people the game was all about dollar signs. My dad was one of those folks who never came back to the game, even today baseball is as interesting to him as paint drying. I think that if it wasn't for the 1986 Mets team the strike might have killed my fandom too... and for that I have nothing but love in my baseball heart for the 1986 World Series Champion New York Mets, and these eight guys in particular.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Power Surge in 2010?

I got the chance to contribute to an article over at yesterday about the chances of a Met power surge in 2010. Here is the question with my response:

Recently, Mets outfielder Jeff Francoeur said he expects the team’s power would return in 2010. He predicted he would smack 27 homers this season, while David Wright would hit 35. Are you as optimistic as Francoeur is about a power surge in Queens?

Onan Coca, South of Shea
I’m a Mets fan, so of course I am a natural pessimist. In this case, however, I don’t think Francouer’s optimism is that far off. In fact, I have been noticing a general trend towards the uber-optimistic in Mets camp thus far, and it has really heartened me as a Mets fan. Jason Bay considers this team a contender and feels that there aren’t many teams who match up with the talent level of the Mets (a point with which I agree with completely), David Wright is planning for the playoffs, and Johan knows he is the best pitcher in the NL East.

I like Frenchy’s attitude, but while I expect Wright to bounce-back power wise, I think it will more likely be in the 28-32 HR range. I also don’t think Jeff will hit 27 bombs, but I think 20-25 is realistic. There will be a power surge in general in Queens this year, Bay will add 35 HR, Murphy should go for at least 15, and a rejuvenated Reyes could hit 12-15 himself. Upon returning, a healthy Carlos Beltran will likely return to his powerful form as well, and I don’t think 30 HR will be out of reach. All of this adds up to a much more developed power-hitting Mets team in 2010.

Yes, Francouer is probably being overly optimistic. No, Frenchy and Wright probably won't combine for 62 Homeruns. But who cares...? It's nice to hear the optimism from the big Right Fielder. The Mets are due for a fairly impressive power surge over last years numbers (maybe not to Francouerian levels but it could come close). From 1 - 8 in their lineup there will be guys with at least 15 HR potential in every slot except for wherever Luis Castillo bats. Which means we should see an BIG uptick in longballs at Citi Field in 2010.

To read the rest of the article, along with some other bloggers opinions go here.

Monday, March 1, 2010

My favorite Mets

Over the next couple of weeks or so I plan to write up a full report on my All-Time favorite Mets team. Pulling from players across generations I plan to build a 25 man squad that, well, makes me happy. You'll notice the list is light on pre-1985 Mets, well that's mostly because I haven't been a fan of the team for much longer than that. And even learning the history of the team cannot give me the proper appreciation of those guys that I would need to make them my "favorite" players. The list is not the 25 best Mets team, or a historically greatest 25 Mets team but my favorite players.
Without further ado, here is the list:
C: Gary Carter
1B: Keith Hernandez
2B: Edgardo Alfonzo
SS: Jose Reyes
3B: Howard Johnson
LF: Mookie Wilson
CF: Carlos Beltran
RF: Darryl Strawberry
Bench: C - Mike Piazza, OF - Lenny Dykstra, OF - Cliff Floyd, IF - David Wright, IF - John Olerud

SP: Tom Seaver, Dwight "Doc" Gooden, David Cone, Al Leiter, Johan Santana
LR: Brett Saberhagen, Frank Viola
RP: Nolan Ryan, Roger McDowell, Jesse Orosco, John Franco, Armando Benitez

More on each individual player (or groups of players) as the month before the season starts progresses.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Better off without Luis Castillo?

The guys at Hotstove were wondering what me and some other Met bloggers thought about going into 2010 with Luis Castillo at 2nd base... here's the back and forth:

Hotsotve -
There was talk earlier this offseason about the Mets looking for a new second baseman. Although Luis Castillo had a pretty good 2009, do you think the team would’ve been better off with a player like Orlando Hudson?

Onan Coca - South of Shea
Would the team have been better off? In a word, yes. On the surface Castillo had a fine year in 2009, but dig a little deeper and you fine some major flaws. Teams would actually pull their OF up when Castillo was batting (not a strong sign), the man is a singles machine, but don’t ask for an extra base hit…ever. It doesn’t stop there — based on UZR he was literally the worst defensive 2nd baseman in baseball in 2009.
I think that Orlando Hudson is overrated and the Dodgers decision not to resign him (even though they have no real options there) shows the O-Dog is not what he used to be, but he is a step up from Castillo. Of all the options, my preference would be Felipe Lopez who is a good defender and can do multiple things offensively.

You can read the rest of the post as well as the other bloggers' responses here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Should the Mets have upgraded at 1st base?

The guys at hotsove recently asked me to contribute to an article they were writing on whether or not the Mets missed out by not signing a free agent 1st baseman...
Here was my part of the conversation:

The Mets picked up Mike Jacobs on a Minor League deal recently to compete for the job at first base in 2010. Did the club make a mistake in waiting around to see if Carlos Delgado was healthy enough to play, instead of going after one of the better free agent first baseman earlier in the offseason, such as Adam LaRoche?

Onan Coca, South of Shea
There was never a “sufficiently” better option to Daniel Murphy on the free agent list. Murphy’s defense will prove to be plus-plus, and I think he will show up a lot of naysayers this year. He has excellent range, soft hands, and is aggresive to the ball – I think he has a chance to be a very good defensive 1st baseman. The question in my mind is can he hit consistently and with enough power to be useful. I would have like to have seen the Mets sign Troy Glaus to platoon with Murph at 1st base (instead of Tatis) but I really don’t think Jacobs has a chance to win the every day job. I think you will see Jacobs spend the majority of the year at AAA Buffalo and really only get a chance with the big club if there are a string of injuries.

At the end of the day, I think going with Murphy was Omar Minaya’s best option unless he had a shot to get Adrian Gonzalez away from the Padres – there just wasn’t much better out there for the money it would have cost.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

NL East Capsule - My Predictions - The Mets

Today, we are completing our quick tour of the NL East with my favorite team and yours the New York Metropolitans! 2009 was a tough year for the Mets as they were beset by a plague of injuries and ended up finishing 4th in the NL East ahead of only the lowly Nationals. 2010 promises to be a brighter year at least than 2009 but many Mets fans are wary of the current make-up of their favorite team. GM Omar Minaya and the Wilpon family have taken a lot of criticism for the moves (or lack thereof) made this offseason. Here's how the Mets look to start the season -

New York Mets

SS: Jose Reyes
2B: Luis Castillo
CF: Carlos Beltran
LF: Jason Bay
3B: David Wright
1B: Daniel Murphy/Fernando Tatis
RF: Jeff Francouer
C: Omir Santos
Bench: IF/OF Tatis, OF Angel Pagan, OF Gary Matthews Jr., IF Alex Cora, C Henry Blanco

SP: Johan Santana
SP: Mike Pelfrey
SP: Oliver Perez
SP: John Maine
SP: Fernando Nieve
CP: Francisco Rodriguez
RP: Kelvim Escobar, Ryoda Igarashi, Pedro Feliciano, Bobby Parnell, Sean Green, Nelson Figueroa

Many observers felt that the most glaring weakness the Mets had going into the offseason was in the starting rotation - well, nothing was done to fix that. The Mets hope that a healthy stable of starter with plenty of upside will bounce back from an abysmal 2009 that was riddled with injury and inconsistency. Today the #5 spot in the rotation looks like it belongs to Fernando Nieve who was a revelation in 2009 before falling victim to the injury plague. Others that will be competing for that #5 spot; fan favorite Nelson Figueroa and young gun Jon Niese. But the most important man in the rotation is the Ace - Johan Santana - will he be 100% from the get-go? Will he be able to shoulder the load of all of Met fandoms expectations?
The Mets solidified one of their strengths in the bullpen by adding Kelvim Escobar and Ryoda Igarashi to the fold. Escobar can be extremely valuable (if healthy) and could be a dominant bullpen presence. Igarashi was exceptional in the Japanese league and the Mets hope his power stuff translates well as a late innings reliever in 2010. The rest of the bullpen has solid reliable arms, and I expect the Mets bullpen to be one of the league's best in 2010.
The offense "should" be good to very good. The offense features speed, average, and power and if not for the collapse of 2009 would no doubt have high expectations. It is fairly balanced left to right and features some of the games best hitters. There is some worry that the power outage that hit in 2009 might continue into 2010 but I think that those worries are highly overrated. I expect the Mets offense to be among the top 3 in the National League in 2010.
While there are reasons to worry (most glaringly the rotation), on balance, I think the positives outweigh the negatives for the Mets. With a full and healthy season from this offense, and a bounce-back year from the rotation I expect the Mets to finish 2nd in the NL East and to challenge the Phillies for most of the season.
I also expect the Mets to be the Wild Card team for the National League in the playoffs in 2010. So save up for those playoff tickets Mets fans!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

NL East Capsule: My Predictions - The Nationals

If there is a team that could be considered the polar opposite of the juggernaut-like Philadelphia Phillies that team would be the Washington Nationals. The Nationals are a team on the rise under GM Mike Rizzo, in his short tenure he has added the best defensive OF in the game and made some moves to prepare the Nationals for contention in the not-to-distant future.

Washington Nationals

SS: Christian Guzman
CF: Nyjer Morgan
3B: Ryan Zimmerman
1B: Adam Dunn
LF: Josh Willingham
RF: Elijah Dukes
C: Ivan Rodriguez
2B: Adam Kennedy
Bench: OF Willie Harris, C Jesus Flores, IF Ian Desmond, OF Michael Morse, IF Alberto Gonzalez

Pitching Staff:
SP: Jason Marquis
SP: John Lannan
SP: Craig Stammen
SP: Scott Olsen
SP: J.D. Martin
CP: Matt Capps
RP: Brian Bruney, Tyler Clippard, Jason Bergman, Eddie Guardado, Sean Burnett, Garrett Mock

The Nationals offense was good in 2009 and occasionally even looked great. The pitching staff, however, was abysmal. GM Mike Rizzo took steps to fix that by drafting Stephen Strasburg the 2009 amateur draft and by signing Jason Marquis in the offseason. There is also news today that the Nationals are the front-runner to sign Chien-Ming Wang from Free Agency... we'll see. Rizzo also completely remodeled the bullpen by adding Matt Capps, Brian Bruney, Eddie Guardado, and Garrett Mock (among others). The pitching staff "should" be better in 2010, the young arms have had some seasoning and they have added some stability.
Also, both the offense and defense should be better this year. A full year of Nyjer Morgan in the OF (and no Adam Dunn), dramatically improves the Nats defense. The offense added Adam Kennedy to play 2nd and Ivan Rodriguez at catcher.
There are many reasons to be optimistic about the Nats in 2010, but the biggest reason will likely start the year in AAA - Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman two of the best young pitching prospects in baseball and they are preparing to join the Nationals... soon. In 2010 - I think Nats fans should prepare for more of the same old, same old... 5th place in the NL East.

Friday, February 12, 2010

NL East Capsule: My predictions - The Phillies

Continuing our series on the NL East and the team outlooks brings us today to the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies are the reigning (Two-time) NL champions and the just dethroned World Champions from 2008. Their loss in the 2009 World Series to the New York Yankees has no doubt left them feeling a little bitter and unfulfilled... does that make them more dangerous in 2010? Is it even possible for them to be "more" dangerous than they were in 2008 and 2009?

Philadelphia Phillies

SS: Jimmy Rollins
3B: Placido Polanco
2B: Chase Utley
1B: Ryan Howard
RF: Jayson Werth
LF: Raul Ibanez
CF: Shane Victorino
C: Carlos Ruiz
Bench: C Brian Schneider, 1/3 Greg Dobbs, OF/1 Ross Gload, IF Juan Castro, OF Ben Francisco

Pitching Staff:
SP: Roy Halladay
SP: Cole Hamels
SP: Joe Blanton
SP: J.A. Happ
SP: Jamie Moyer
CP: Brad Lidge
RP: Ryan Madson, J.C. Romero, Danys Baez, Chad Durbin, Jose Contreras, Kyle Kendrick

I'm not sure how much I can write about the Phillies. Baseball fans are familiar enough now with this power-packed team to know they are very dangerous. The Phillies are best known for their Home Run power, but they also happen to hit for average and run the bases as well as any team in the game. The Phillies prowess doesn't stop with their incredible offense, they also happen to be one of the best defensive teams in baseball.
The starting rotation doesn't offer much weakness either. The Phillies have one of the best pitchers in the game as their ace (Roy Halladay) and follow him up with a talented stable of starters. The only real question in the rotation comes from the #5 spot where Jamie Moyer will battle Jose Contreras and Kyle Kendrick for the job in Spring Training.
The only glaring problem with this team is in the bullpen, last year the Phillies relievers were terrible. And there hasn't been much turnover to this year, so it seems the front office believes that the relievers are better than last years numbers show. The Phillies did add Danys Baez and Jose Contreras who will no doubt be valuable additions to the pen in 2010.
I think that the Phillies could be in trouble in the near future (2011-2012) because of their burgeoning payroll and their odd willingness to offer long and large contracts to players like Placido Polanco. I think that 2010 will be Jayson Werth's last as a Philly and that they will become financially strapped as their core players salaries begin to balloon. 2010 is already a record in terms of Phillies payroll, and it just is not likely that the team can run at this level of operating cost for long.
All of that being said, however, I think 2010 will be another spectacular year for Phillies fans (barring injury). The Phillies are the class of the National League and a World Series run in 2010 is not out of the question - in fact the Phillies are probably the odds on favorite to win the NL pennant. I think that the bullpen will still be a liability and that the Phillies will face a tougher road to the playoffs this year than they did in 2009, but I still expect them to be a playoff team in 2010. Look for the Phillies to again win the NL East division and be prohibitive favorite in the playoffs.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Neyer says No

During Rob Neyer's chat on ESPN today I got a question in about his thoughts on the Mets and about when the next time Rob would be in Atlanta. Here's the back and forth:

Onan (Atlanta, GA)

Hey Rob - big fan! I just picked up baseball legends and baseball blunders from Amazon - Great Price! When's the next time you will be in the Atlanta area so I can come out and get them signed? Also, can my Mets compete for a playoff spot this year?

Rob Neyer

I'm hoping to be there in August for the SABR convention. Thanks for buying the books, and I'm sorry about your Mets (though things aren't completely hopeless, particularly if Reyes can play 150 games).

(*Links added afterward)

So all of you statheads make sure you are in Atlanta this August for the SABR convention - where you could meet guys like the estimable Rob Neyer. Honestly, the work that guys like Neyer, Keith Law, Dave Cameron, and Tom Tango are doing is impressive. They are brilliant baseball guys with a talent for writing and Love for the Game.

That being said Neyer's evaluation of the Mets 2010 season seems to be pretty much in line with views around the game. I continue to remain optimistic and am personally very excited for the start of camp next week but it's hard to keep a positive attitude with all of the negativity! All of that being said, I appreciate Rob answering my questions and hope the Mets prove him wrong in 2010.

What really irks me?

Trading a perfectly servicable inexpensive pitcher like Brian Stokes for an expensive below average in every way Outfielder like Gary Matthews Jr.
It's even worse when stories like this break.
So we sign Frank Catalonotto and Mike Jacobs... then Endy Chavez and Gary Sheffield make it known that they would like to come back... and you could get all four of them for less than it costs to carry Gary Matthews Jr.
So why did we trade for him??

NL East Capsule: My predictions - the Marlins

Yesterday, I profiled the 2010 Atlanta Braves - today, I move on to the 2010 Florida Marlins.

Florida Marlins:
LF: Chris Coghlan
C: John Baker
SS: Hanley Ramirez
2B: Dan Uggla
3B: Jorge Cantu
RF: Cody Ross
1B: Logan Morrison
CF: Cameron Maybin
Bench: C Ronny Paulino, 1/3 Wes Helms, 2/3 Emilio Bonifacio, OF Brett Carroll, IF Gaby Sanchez?

Pitching Staff
SP: Josh Johnson
SP: Ricky Nolasco
SP: Anibal Sanchez
SP: Sean West
SP: Chris Volstad
CP: Leo Nunez
RP: Derrick Turnbow, Seth McClung, Jose Veras, Renyel Pinto, Taylor Tankersley, Burke Badenhop

The Marlins have been the "surprise" team of the NL East over the last 4 years or so. I am not sure how long a team can go on winning and still be considered a "surprise" team, but I am fairly certain that most prognosticators will be surprised again by the Fish. I have been an advocate of the NL East being the best division in baseball over the last 5 years or so - and I have had numerous debates over that very topic (The AL East has recently been pretty stiff competition for the crown of toughest division). I think the Marlins are the reason the NL East grades out as toughest in baseball.
This offseason the Marlins did not change the makeup of the team all that much, the only additions of note have been in the bullpen. The Marlins added Derrick Turnbow, Seth McClung, and Jose Veras - other than that the biggest "moves" the Marlins made this offseason were resigning Josh Johnson to a long term deal and bringing back Dan Uggla for at least one more year.
The biggest question for the Marlins entering the 2010 season is who will play 1st base and who will play 3rd base? The Marlins hope that Logan Morrison will win the 1st base job out of Spring Training, Gaby Sanchez will be fighting him for the starters job. At 3rd base Jorge Cantu will be penciled in as the starter but Jorge Jimenez the Marlins rule 4 draft pick from the Boston Red Sox will try and make an impression with the Marlins coaching staff. If Jimenez can prove that he should be playing every day for the Marlins in 2010, the team may move Cantu over to 1st. However, if Jimenez and one of Morrison or Sanchez play well enough during Spring Training it may push the Marlins front office to trade Cantu or Uggla for the best package they can get in return. A 2010 where the Marlins can start rookies at 1st and 3rd could be a very good thing for the team.
The pitching staff is another big question for the Marlins, they have some immense talent in their stables but it is young, mostly unproven talent. If everything goes well the Marlins pitching staff could be dominant, but as in life, baseball never goes perfectly. I think we can reasonably expect the Marlins pitching staff to look dominant some days and to look clownish others. The offense will hit for power, and some days will put up impressive numbers - but on most days the production will not be enough to win.
In terms of consistency I expect the Marlins to take a step forward this year. The pitching staff will be a touch more reliable, and the offense will play more evenly from day to day - less highs but far less lows as well. As I said yesterday with the Braves, the Marlins are a good team - in my personal view, better than the other divisions (other than the Cardinals and Dodgers) - but not good enough to realistically compete in the NL East. I expect them to finish fourth in the division in 2010.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

NL East Capsule: My predictions - The Braves

Over the next five days I will run through the NL East teams and offer my predictions on how the year will play out. We'll go in alphabetical order and see if we can wade through this year's possibilities.

Atlanta Braves:
CF: Nate McLouth
2B: Martin Prado
3B: Larry “Chipper” Jones
1B: Troy Glaus
C: Brian McCann
SS: Yunel Escobar
RF: Matt Diaz or Eric Hinske
LF: Melky Cabrera
Bench: OF/1B Hinske, OF Blanco, OF Schaffer, IF Omar Infante, C David Ross

Pitching Staff:
SP: Tim Hudson
SP: Jair Jurjens
SP: Derek Lowe
SP: Kenshin Kawakami
SP: Tommy Hanson
CL: Billy Wagner
RP: Takashi Saito, Peter Moylan, Kris Medlen, Eric O’Flaherty, Manny Acosta, Jesse Chavez

The Braves would have been a much more formidable foe in 2010 if they had not traded Javier Vazquez for the Melk-man. The trade looks ugly for the Braves on the surface but the addition of Arodys Vizcaino and Mike Dunn will be of great benefit in the near future. While Dunn is nothing special, Vizcaino has the stuff to be a great major league starter. However, for 2010 the Braves have really hurt their chances for contending.
With Vazques on the staff the Braves rotation was a legitimate contender for best in baseball honors. Without him they turn in to a solid staff - but with a similar offensive build as 2009 I can't see the Braves making any progress in the National League. Troy Glaus could be better than LaRoche but he has an equal chance to blow out any number of appendages and be lost for the year. Melky Cabrera is a defensive upgrade to Garrett Anderson in LF but offensively he brings replacement level offense to the team.
Another problem with the Braves offensively is the lack of a true leadoff man, McLouth should not be the go-to guy here. I think a much better option would be to leadoff Prado, with Escobar batting behind him. The problem is that Escobar flourished hitting in the 5-6 hole in 2009 and Bobby Cox will be hard pressed to move him out of that spot. I think the offense would have a much higher rate of success if the order went - Prado, Escobar, Chipper, Glaus, McCann, McClouth, Diaz, Cabrera. In fact, they may be better served by starting Infante in LF over Cabrera.
In the bullpen the Braves have added Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito who are both good veteran pitchers. The problem is that the same bullpen lost Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez, which to me, are both better options in the pen right now than Wagner and Saito. The bullpen had a rough time last year and was only saved by the resurgence of Soriano and Gonzalez - without them Wagner and Saito will have to pitch often and pitch well for the pen to succeed. The current makeup of the Braves bullpen has the possibility to be very good, but I think (as with Troy Glaus) there is about equal opportunity for the bullpen to fail miserably.
In conclusion, I think this is a good Braves team. In fact I think the Braves are really better than any team in the NL West (besides the Dodgers) and any team in the NL Central (other than the Cardinals) but in the tough NL East I think the Braves will finish in 3rd place behind the Phillies and the Mets. If they had been able to retain Javier Vazquez and they had been able to sign Johnny Damon to play LF - I think the Braves may have been real contenders to win the NL East - alas, those things did not happen.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I have gotten the opportunity to comment regularly on Mets happenings over at - it has been a fun excercise and yesterday was no different. The guys at Hotstove wanted to know:

How confident are you that the Mets’ current stable of 2-5 pitchers (Perez, Pelfrey, Maine, Figueroa, etc.) will be enough to keep the team competitive in 2010? The club has clearly failed to find a legit #2 starter to back up Johan Santana.

Here was my response:
Onan Coca, South of Shea

Confidence is a funny thing. While I readily admit that these 4 pitchers specifically have not given me reason to hope, I still do. I was hoping that the Mets would be aggressive with Ben Sheets and try and get him signed early, but the rest of the crop of free agent pitchers did not impress me. I was actually less worried about them not getting someone and more worried that the Mets would get someone (like Pineiro or Marquis) and overpay for him the way they did with Oliver Perez.
The cold, hard truth of the matter is that the only difference between Perez, Pelfrey, Maine and any of the available free agents (other than John Lackey, Sheets, Harden, and Bedard) was health. Guys like Jon Garland, Pineiro, and Marquis are not “upgrades” in the rotation — they are exactly the same pitchers with a better “recent” health history. If (and it’s a HUGE IF) Perez, Maine, and Pelfry can remain healthy (and sane) they can be the core of a solid pitching staff — I just don’t know if they can stay healthy and sane.

If you would like to read the rest of the post and some comments from other Mets bloggers here's a link to the article.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A little suggestion?

If I might be so bold as to make Mr. Minaya a little suggestion - sign Jermaine Dye, Johnny Damon, Will Ohman, Joe Beimel, and Todd Wellemeyer. I know - the cash is short and these guys will want to be paid. However, if you look at the options each of these players has right now you will notice that the Mets can make cheap competitive offers for each.
Jermaine Dye and Johnny Damon - I would submit that Daniel Murphy's relative newness to the 1st base position and his current issues with hitting left-handed pitching means that the team might be better served by allowing Murphy to become more seasoned at the AAA level. Dye and Damon could from a formidable platoon at 1st base with each filling in for the Mets OF as well.
Will Ohman and Joe Beimel - The Mets currently have one left handed arm in the bullpen; Pedro Feliciano. The addition of Ohman and Beimel would give the Mets some great bullpen depth in the majors and minors. Either pitcher could also be used as trade bait later in the season if necessary.
Todd Wellemeyer - In 2008 Wellemeyer looked like he had finally put it all together for the St. Louis Cardinals. 2009 he fell back into his pre-2008 form. By signing Wellemeyer the Mets add another talented middle of the rotation arm that can be stabled at AAA just in case the team is hit with another string of pitching injuries. He would make a very good fill in 5th starter alongside Nelson Figueroa, Fernando Nieve, and Jon Niese.
These moves allow the Mets to let Daniel Murphy continue developing (perhaps moving him to 2nd base because Ike Davis should be playing the everyday 1st baseman role for Buffalo), and it allows the Mets to cut/trade either Gary Matthews Jr. or Fernando Tatis. It also gives them better hitting options off the bench, as well as added lineup depth. All indications from the Mets front office is that they are finished making moves for this offseason, though if the opportunity arises to sign a pitcher they might, so I doubt these deals are in the offing ... but a Mets fan can hope.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Keith Law - Comedic Genius

Ah, Pure comedic gold from a Keith Law chat at ESPN yesterday...

"rob (new york)

How do they mets justify paying Gary Matthews Jr. 1.5 mil but not take a shot on bedard for the same price?

Klaw (1:19 PM)

I'll explain the Mets' offseason strategy right after I prove Riemann's hypothesis. Wait right there.

Ouch. It hurts Keith... it really hurts.

3 Reasons to Believe

The 2009 MLB off season has been about as positive for New York Met fans as the previous four seasons. Let's recap (Mets fans...close your eyes and go to your happy place) - In 2006 the Mets steamrolled their way into the playoffs and looked like the likely favorites to hoist that World Series trophy at the end of October. The Cardinals (particularly Yadier Molina) never got the memo, as the Cardinals took the NLCS in 7 games, and kung-fu chopped the Tigers in 5 to win the World Series.
In 2007 with much the same team assembled the Mets missed the playoffs by losing the last game of the regular season to the Marlins. 2008... same song as 2007 only this time we had Johan Santana. 2009 - a year filled with hope and possibility that crashed and burned almost from the get-go. If you are like me, none of this matters today. I was heckled for continuing to watch the 2009 club, game after horrific game, but my response was ever the same... Ya' gotta believe.
Well Mets fans, I am here today to preach from the rooftops my message of hope and expectation... YA' GOTTA BELIEVE! 2010 will be our year, and there are several reasons to be optimistic about our September/October chances!

First, the injury bug has passed and we will be healthy in 2010 (though we are already off to a rough start on that front). Seasons like 2010 are like lightning strikes - they never happen twice in the same place. Sure, we may view the Beltran surgery as a dark omen the like of which have not been seen since Shakespeare penned Julius Caesar. I choose to view the Beltran surgery as a positive - we will have the best all around CF in the game completely healthy from June on, thanks in large part to this surgery. Imagine if he hadn't undergone the procedure... we'd probably lose him in June and be kissing our season goodbye.

Second reason to believe in 2010 - role players. David Wright, Jose Reyes, Johan Santana, Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay, and Francisco Rodriguez. Can you name another team in baseball (outside of the Phillies, and Yanks) with a more formidable core?
I think not. Our problem over the last few seasons has not been the core, but the role players on our team. We have often been knocked for being to thin after our star players, and maybe that's right. This year however, we go into the season with a solid bullpen and some great character guys in the field. Jeff Francouer spent his 2009 showing the Met fanbase that he was gritty, tough, and proud (everything the pundits said the Mets had not been) - with a full 2010 maybe he can help inject some life and energy into this team. Daniel Murphy proved in 2009 that their is life after Carlos Delgado, the kid plays has range at 1st and a soft glove all he needs now is the experience to give him the wisdom to play the position. Most of his errors at 1st base last year were of the mental variety not the defensive/talent variety. If he can learn the position better I think we have a ++ defender at 1st base who can absolutely rip right handed pitching. Bringing back Alex Cora, and Fernando Tatis adding Henry Blanco, and Frank Catalanotto bring a talented veteran stability to the team (not to mention versatility with Catalonotto and Tatis). Hopefully Gary Matthews, Jr. will also prove to be a boon to the bench. Super-sub Angel Pagan is better suited to a fill-in role and it's a nice plus for a team to have a better 4th OF than most other teams 3rd OF.

A third reason to believe in 2010 - the Rotation. "What's that you say?" Yes, it's the much maligned rotation, think back to the 2009 off-season when we had such high hopes, before the crash of injuries laid our summer to waste. We were optimistic about our rotation. Santana was a sure thing (barring injury), Pelfrey was building momentum, Maine was ready to step in and be the stabilizing presence we needed in the middle of the rotation, and Oliver could be lights out AGAIN!!! Not so much. Well, I am here to say have those same hopes for 2010 because - it can only get better. Maine, Pelfrey, and even Perez have the talent to be better than average starting pitchers - which is why I assume the Mets have not added any pitchers to the staff. I get the sense from the Mets front office that if (and that's a big IF) these guys are healthy and in the right presence of mind they believe our rotation will be better than league average, and combined with a potent offense will mean victories. Add a handful of starts from Fernando Nieve, Nelson Figueroa, and Jon Niese the Mets should be fine in the #5 slot of the rotation.

We can be melancholy. After the offseason the Mets have had, we have reason to be cynical. We can be pessimists. We're Mets fans we do that kind of thing better than most. We can even be despondent. There are various and sundry reasons that the 2010 Mets could be as big a failure as the 2009 version... BUT ...
I for one choose to look 2010 square in the fact and say "Ya' gotta Believe!" There is reason for hope, and there are 162 games to play... and then we make the playoffs!

Only 13 days until pitchers and catchers report!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Worst Owner in Baseball?

On Monday in Forbes online there was an article which openly wondered if Mets owner Fred Wilpon was the worst owner in baseball.

While I can understand the sentiment, I think it's misplaced, especially when the MLB is home to owners with names like Loria, Angelos, Nutting, Reinsdorf, and Wolff. I recognize that you won't know some of those names, but let's say that one is a cheapskate (Loria), two have teams with Mets-like money whose teams have not met expectations for years (Angelos and Reisndorf), one wants to move his team (Wolff), and one has presided over the slow-murder of an MLB team in a major American city (Nutting). That's to say nothing of the Dodger's (McCourt) divorce situation, or the Rangers (Hicks) lack of money, the Cubs (and Rangers) attempts to sell (Tribune Co. - Ricketts) out hamstringing their GM, or the Astro's (McLane) lack of baseball knowledge leading to continually bad baseball decisions, or the Royals (Glass) perpetual ineptitude.

Wow, their are a lot of bad owners out there...
Let's dig in a little and see if we can make sense of the author's claim that Wilpon belongs near the top of the worst-owners list. The author says;

"Wilpon's two biggest problems: his assumption that New York fans demand a winner each and every year, and his apparent obsession with the Yankees."

Okay. These are far from Mr. Wilpon's worst problems, but their is some truth to the claims. The Mets cannot be afraid to rebuild over a two to three year period, it would be far better to suffer over 2-3 years of seasons like 2009 knowing that there was a light at the end of the tunnel... then to keep trying to make a team that doesn't work - work.
Secondly, I haven't noticed an obsession by the Wilpon family with the Yankees, only with a desire to put a winning product on the field. This is hardly a character flaw, in fact in most MLB cities it's admirable. Most MLB fans would prefer to have an owner interested in building a perennial winner, than an owner looking to make some money (again I turn to Jeffrey Loria of the Marlins).

No, the Wilpons biggest sin is involving themselves too much in the day to day operations of the baseball product being produced. It is born out of a genuine desire to see the best for the New York Mets and the team's fanbase, but those feelings are misguided. The Loria's have placed their trust in a GM (which may be misplaced) and he must be given freedom to work otherwise it will continue to make a bad situation worse. A hard budget must be set in place, and only in the case of that budget being exceeded should the ownership be brought in to discuss a possible acquisition. A plan must be set in place and allowed to work without involvement from the Loria family, as well intentioned as they may be.

The Wilpon's are far from baseballs worst owners - but they must look at history (Peter Angelos and the Orioles of the 2000s, Steinbrenner and the Yankees of the 1980's) and realize that anytime an owner becomes too involved in the teams day to day operations the team suffers.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Time for some fun

So I have been kicking around the idea of having my own Mets blog for a while. It took some time, but i finally have a product that I think I am happy with. I welcome your thoughts and input and hope this can be a place for Mets fans (and others) to have some fun talking baseball.
I will try my best to add daily content, mostly opinion and observation, but the occasionally bit of news as well. Feel free to link to this site, and share with your friends!

If you want to catch up on some of my other baseball content click here and follow the links to some of the articles I have written over at Bleacher Report:
Or some of my contributions at the Hot Stove:

And remember - only 21 days until pitchers and catchers report!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Jerry Manuel Inspires Confidence for The New York Mets

Okay, I have to admit something to you, the reader—the title of my article is a complete lie. I was skimming Mets news yesterday, trying to glean any interesting little nuggets that might brighten my day (on a personal note - I found nothing in the Mets news to brighten my day other than Oliver got rid of the mohawk). When I came across this interesting little piece of praise for Daniel Murphy (Emphasis Mine);

""I think Daniel Murphy can do enough that we can survive," manager Jerry Manuel said."

Holy Freakin' Cow!  Thank you so much, Coach!  You think he can do enough so we can survive?!? If that is not a vote of confidence from the Big Man, I don't know what is! (Sarcasm also mine) 

Then there is this interesting tidbit...(again emphasis mine): "He has some range at first base," Manuel said. "There are some things he can do, but I think the other pieces we have in place are going to have to perform to their offensive capabilities for us to get away with not relying solely on say what a Carlos Delgado would have brought." So if the other guys don't perform, we're screwed?  Sounds like our esteemed leader is none too excited about his offense to start the season. 

Don't get too down though, Mets fans, because our indomitable GM, Mr. Omar Minaya, is about to complete the deal of the century. The New York Mets are preparing to announce that they have signed...(drumroll please)...Fernando Tatis to platoon at 1st Base with Daniel Murphy. This signing no doubt puts to rest all of Jerry's concerns about having Murphy at first base. 

Maybe I am too much of a "Debbie Downer," and maybe I am reading way too much into his comments but this does not inspire confidence.


* Here is some positive Daniel Murphy stuff; HoJo thinks he could hit 24 Bombs this year.

* Johan is happy, Ollie is not spinning... hopefully.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Mets need to re-tool.

In Kansas City it is often referred to as "the process," a term Dayton Moore seems to have pilfered from the scrap heap of baseball in the 2000s or as others call it...Moneyball. In most places "the process" simply refers to the implementation of strategy that a baseball team's management is using to hopefully build a winner.


It is generally accepted that there are three possible outcomes to such a situation: First, the process works and the team wins. Second, the process does not work and the team is forced to restrategize (generally the new strategy is built by a new strategizer or new GM and begins with the firing of old personnel). The third and final possibility, the front office blows right past the platform where the process begins, derails, and rides the train (of your team) into the desert night never to be heard from again. Okay, so the third possibility is mostly hyperbole—but it doesn't make it wrong (Proof? See Isaiah Thomas and Jimmy Dolan's New York Knicks).

The New York Mets have become that reckless, careening train barreling into the long good night. They are led by their fearless (or feckless) leader Omar Minaya. For, Omar to carry all of the blame for the Titanic adventure that the Mets have recently become, is not fair. Some of the blame should be shifted to the Wilpon family who have given Omar so much rope with which to hang himself. Also, can Omar be blamed for the job that Jerry Manuel has done (or not done) with the culture of this "team?" I'm not saying that this team doesn't have grit or spirit as was claimed quite often over the last three seasons...but where there is smoke...?

During his tenure as General Manager, Omar Minaya has often cited that it was his goal to build a team based on three factors: pitching, defense, and speed. This must be why the Mets pitching staff has not really changed over the last four seasons (other than the brilliant insertion of Tim Redding into the rotation), even though it has been less than stellar over the same period of time. How about that defense, Omar? About the only the Mets that have been consistent with over the past four seasons is their defense, which has been bad. David Wright has two Gold Gloves at third Base, and while I feel they were deserved, many in the baseball industry think they are a product of Wright's personality and offense. Other than Wright the only bright spot on defense has been Carlos Beltran (and occasionally Jose Reyes). The rest of the defense ranges from average to far below average, and Omar continued that trend this off-season with the pickup of Jason Bay and now Gary Matthews, Jr.

The only place that Omar has been able to back up his rhetoric is with speed, the Mets have generally been the class of base stealing in the MLB over the last four years. So Omar is batting 1 for 3—a.333 batting average, which while a good percentage at the plate, not so much in the front office.

It is clear from the team's recent history that Omar and his staff have lost sight of "the plan," and have been driving this train by the seat of their pants. The problem is that the MLB and the NY Mets are not a video game, and there is no "reset" button...a team that does not stick to the plan ends up falling apart. Pitching, speed, and defense may very well be the way to win but that is not the kind of team the Mets are currently fielding.  The "process"...the "plan", has been forgotten, and Omar Minaya is now Moses leading Mets Nation through a desert without a map.

It is my belief that the time has come to retool the New York Mets. It means biting the bullet and planning for a down year or two, with a bright eye to the near future of our beloved franchise. I think the Mets could be competitive this year, but to what avail? I don't see this team being able to compete with this lack of planning over the next five to 10 years. The re-tooling has to start in the front office. Omar Minaya and his staff must be terminated. The coaching staff must also be purged—the only member of the staff that should stay on, is the one who has been the most productive, Howard Johnson. Other than HoJo every coach must go. After this, the team itself must be broken up. The only safe names should be Wright, Reyes, Beltran, Johan, Escobar, and K-Rod. This is a spectacular core and a great place for any GM,whose name is not Omar Minaya, to build from , a couple of key additions could make this team an immediate contender, but that plan is for another day. 


Is it time for Jeter to move to the OF?

The idea of moving Jeter to the outfield is a sore subject for many Yankees fans.

For those outside of Yankee fandom, the idea was in vogue going into the 2009 season—but in 2009 Captain Jeter proved most of us (his defensive naysayers) wrong. He had a stellar defensive season and, much to my chagrin, proved to still be the class of shortstop world. 

I submit that the addition of Mark Teixeira improved Jeter's defensive standing—first by the distance from the first base line that Tex plays allowing everyone in the infield to shift, and secondly by the Gold Glove standards at which Tex fields throws from his infield mates. 

Neither of these things, whether taken together or separately however, fully explain the captain's defensive renaissance. Hard work, pure talent, and a drive that does not exist in most normal mortals have to be added to the many reasons that Jeter's defense saw such vast improvement in 2009. 

All of this being said, I think now more than ever it is time to move the captain into the OF. The Yankees have cut themselves loose of Matsui and most likely Damon, and are now facing a gap in LF.

The orthodox plan is to allow Brett Gardner to fill that roster spot, likely hitting ninth and playing above average defense in LF. This is a fine inside the box option. 

But let's step outside the box for a moment. The likelihood of Jeter repeating his stellar defensive year from 2009 in 2010 is low. Also, the captain continues to age (like the rest of us), and as he ages, his skills will diminish exponentially.

The SS position is one that does not treat aging bodies well, while many of our aging greats can continue to excel playing in a less strenuous position (like LF or first base).  So why not move Jeter to LF now, while there is a semblance of an opening on the Yankees' roster at the position?

Why not move him now that the ridiculously talented Curtis Granderson is roaming CF and can cover up some of the deficiencies the captain will likely have in his first full year as an outfielder? 

Who will fill his spot at SS, you ask? Why, any number of players may be made available to the Yankees as the year progresses.

Orlando Cabrera is still a free agent, and Ramiro Pena sits on the Yankee bench. Neither player is an upgrade from Brett Gardner, but might Gardner's best role for the club not be as a roaming OF covering for Swisher, Granderson, and Jeter, as each needs the rest? 

Is the Jeter to LF idea a perfect solution? Probably not...but if Yankees fans want to keep the captain around as long as possible, he will have to make the move to LF sooner or later—and sooner may make the transition easier.