Posted in Baseball

Mets baseball cards of the week: 2016 Opening Day team set

It’s been a little while since we last talked baseball cards… a few new sets came out, and I even have two new 2016 Mets partial team sets to show you.

I’d really been looking forward to Topps Heritage, since this year’s set is based on one of my favorite classic Topps designs. Now that I actually have most of the cards in hand (thanks Stubby!), I find myself with mixed feelings.

So let’s save that for another day and focus on the product that wildly surpassed my expectations: Topps Opening Day. It’s been years since I actually bothered getting the Mets team set from Opening Day… the cards are almost identical to the ones from the Topps flagship set, but you don’t get all of the players because Opening Day is less than half the size.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Except this year, I noticed half of the Mets in Opening Day aren’t in Topps Series One. Steven Matz and Lucas Duda will undoubtedly turn up in Series Two, most likely with the same image. Matt Reynolds and Ruben Tejada? Your guess is as good as mine… I could easily see Tejada getting bumped or digitally transformed into a Cardinal. (The better question is: “where’s David Wright?” but he did miss all but 38 games last season and is in Series One, so I’ll cut them some slack.)

(Tejada also has a pretty nifty super short print photo variation in Opening Day that I’d been planning to get, but the Mets released him before I had the opportunity and it has kinda killed my motivation. There are also super short print photo variations for Noah Syndergaard and Reynolds according to the Cardboard Connection’s gallery.)

So Reynolds’ first Mets baseball card (not counting autographs in Heritage and Spring Fever) was motivation enough for me to pick up Opening Day this year, but the set’s strength is in its inserts.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Opening Day gave us Mrs. Met’s first baseball card appearance, as well as two cards commemorating the Mets’ playoff success last fall. (There’s also a less interesting Matt Harvey card in an insert set dedicated to teams’ alternate uniforms, but the Mets wear their blue alternates often enough that seeing Harvey in the home jersey that he always wears isn’t very exciting…still, what’s one “miss” in a product that’s so much better than I expected?)

In actual baseball news, Matt Harvey weathered a health scare, Bobby Parnell got released by the Tigers, Philip Humber retired after learning he wouldn’t make the Padres’ roster and Jeff Francoeur managed to make the Braves roster.

We’re just days away from baseball games that count…I’m looking forward to caring enough to watch more than one game a week. 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized

We gotta believe

2015-02-17-13.50.42

This was the view outside my window this afternoon… it hardly seems possible, but baseball season really isn’t that far away.

In addition to our usual off-season silliness – articles about how the Mets should retire Mike Piazza‘s #31 to “steal the Yankees’ thunder,” Las Vegas oddsmakers’ predictions about how many games your favorite team will win, and Jerry Seinfeld still trying to get Bobby Ojeda‘s SNY job back – there were actual glimmers of baseball news from Port St. Lucie.

While Bobby Parnell won’t address the media until tomorrow, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin says that the Mets’ once and future closer is only likely to spend the first two to three weeks of the season on the disabled list after having Tommy John surgery on April 8, 2014.

And while that’s definitely good news, I’m not all that concerned about Parnell’s absence even if it lasts longer. I’m confident that Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia and Vic Black can handle the job. Parnell will just give Terry Collins another option. (If anything, I’m concerned about whether Terry can effectively balance the bullpen workload or if he will overuse “favorites” while failing to get enough regular work for others.)

I certainly like the attitudes of our bullpen guys.

“I think this is the year,” Familia told NJ.com’s Mike Vorkunov.

When asked about Matt Harvey‘s talk about the Mets winning a World Series championship, Mejia told Vorkunov. “I think that’s good because we gotta believe,” he says. “If we don’t believe about our team, we’re gonna lose.”

On February 17th with icicles outside my window, I agree with Mejia. We gotta believe that we’re gonna see baseball weather, that the Mets are gonna be good, and this really could be the year.

Posted in Uncategorized

What does the Mets’ interest in Grant Balfour say about the team’s bullpen & budget?

Grant Balfour pitches for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008 (Photo credit: Keith Allison)
Grant Balfour pitches for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008 (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

The Tampa Bay Rays signed reliever Grant Balfour to a two-year, $12 million contract to be their closer on Thursday.

This is interesting mainly because multiple reports suggested that the New York Mets had also made an effort to sign him to add depth to their bullpen.

Continue reading “What does the Mets’ interest in Grant Balfour say about the team’s bullpen & budget?”

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

LaTroy Hawkins didn’t fit the Mets’ budget, so what does that say about this offseason?

LaTroy Hawkins (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
LaTroy Hawkins (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

LaTroy Hawkins agreed to a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Colorado Rockies last night according to multiple reports.

According to USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale, the deal is actually structured as a $2.25 million contract for 2014, plus a $2.25 million option for 2015 with a $250,000 buyout.

I’d say “good for LaTroy Hawkins” and leave it at that, except that the New York Mets kept telling everyone that they wanted to bring Hawkins back and the Daily NewsKristie Ackert reports “the Rockies’ offer ‘blew away,’ an offer the Mets made.”

Just how much did the Mets expect to pay him, anyway?

Hawkins did a very nice job out of the bullpen for the Mets in 2013, even serving as a reliable closer over the season’s final two months after Bobby Parnell was injured. But he will be 41 years old next season, and I wouldn’t say it’s a safe bet to expect him to duplicate his performance.

Still, $2.5 million is not a very big commitment in the fantasy world of Major League Baseball payrolls.

To a certain extent, all relief pitchers present a certain risk when predicting year-to-year performance. And Sandy Alderson is going to have to find someone else to fill Hawkins’ setup role and serve as the team’s closer at the beginning of the season if Parnell has not fully recovered from neck surgery to correct a herniated disc.

Unless he looks strictly at in-house options and minor league free agents, Alderson is going to have to find a couple of million – maybe more – to pay a relief pitcher. A Major League Baseball team in 2013 should not be in a position where a $2.5 million contract is a big deal, yet that’s where the Mets are.

Buy your Opening Day tickets and get excited about the 2014 spring training schedule, everyone.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Thoughts after the first week of spring training games

We’re just over a week into spring training, and I’m already getting bored with it. I’ve watched or listened to three ties, two losses and one victory from the no-names, but I’m having a hard time caring about keeping track of all of the relievers and outfielders wearing number 60 and above. There will be time enough to learn about the ones that stick in April.

Every time Mets GM Sandy Alderson opens his mouth, I like him less.

During the off-season, he cracked jokes about the outfield – and with no offense intended towards Collin Cowgill, Alderson did absolutely nothing to improve it.

Johan Santana (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Johan Santana (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Saturday, his target was Johan Santana.

Was he ready to pitch when he arrived at spring training? It seems to me it’s self-evident that he wasn’t ready to pitch at the beginning of spring training, since he hasn’t pitched to this point. Beyond that, characterizing were we surprised, disappointed, unhappy, those are reactions I’m not really ready to get into. …

Look, I’m not pointing fingers at the organization or Johan. We’re dealing with the reality, which is he’s not ready to pitch. He will be at some point. We hope that’s sooner rather than later. If there are lessons to be learned, we’ll certainly consider them.

Alderson had a whole lot more to say, in the tortured roundabout sentences he seems to specialize in. You can read it all as ESPN New York.

Three things:

  1. I’m sick of the passive/aggressive nonsense. If you’re going to trash one of your players to the media, come out and say what you mean. Don’t just hint around it while using weasel words and lawyer-speak to give yourself deniability later.
  2. What’s the point of trashing your players to the media in the first place?
  3. Given Santana’s recent history, who in their right mind was expecting him to make 30 starts this year anyway?
Frank Francisco (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Frank Francisco (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

In other injury-related news, it sounds like Frank Francisco could open the year on the DL… I’d rather see Bobby Parnell keep the closer’s job until he definitely loses it anyway.

And in a positive development, minor league pitcher Erik Goeddel will not require surgery after being hit in the face by a thrown baseball.

Finally, I celebrated a birthday this week. I happened to look at the ages of the players in Mets camp – LaTroy Hawkins is the only one who’s older than me. I guess I have a reason to root for him to make the team now.