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 Hotstove.com - 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!