Posted in Baseball

Ch-ch-ch-changes…

Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen warms up before an exhibition game between the Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Ballpark in 2010 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen warms up before an exhibition game between the Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Ballpark in 2010 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

The fans in Pittsburgh watched Andrew McCutchen play his last game as a Pirate on tv Oct. 1. He went one-for-three, hitting a double off of Gio Gonzelez and left the game for a pinch-runner. The Pirates went on to win 11-8 over the playoff-bound Washington Nationals, notching their 75th and final victory of 2017.

Last night, the Pirates traded McCutchen to the San Francisco Giants for reliever Kyle Crick and minor league outfielder Bryan Reynolds.

The Giants, very much in win-now mode, will be interesting to watch. In addition to McCutchen, they added longtime Tampa Bay Rays star third baseman Evan Longoria this offseason. I don’t remember the last time a team acquired two players who were so strongly identified with a different franchise in one winter. Neither is the star that they once were, but magical things seem to happen in San Francisco.

The Pirates are clearly hoping to build for the future. Crick gives them a potentially interesting reliever who’s ready to help at the big league level and Reynolds gives them a lottery ticket for 2020 or so. Given the lackluster return Pittsburgh got for two years of Gerrit Cole, this isn’t an awful package for one year McCutchen.

But it’s the end of an era that once showed such promise in Pittsburgh, and it’s sad that the team wasn’t able to do more when they had McCutchen than go to the playoffs three times and only advance to the Divisional Series once.

And more bad news for Pirates fans… team owner Bob Nutting says this cycle is going to keep happening until there’s a “fundamental redesign of the economics of baseball; that’s not what we’re going to have.”

But as frustrating as it’s gotta be, at least the Pirates have a plan and an owner willing to take some responsibility for the team’s moves. You can argue that Nutting should be willing to risk more of his own money or sell the team to someone who is, but he’s out there sharing his point of view with the media and the fans. (Contrast that with Mets ownership, where everyone is content to let GM Sandy Alderson take all the fallout from unpopular moves even though it’s unclear what financial resources he’s got to work with.)

In other news of interest:

Posted in Autographs, Baseball, New York Mets

At the White Plains National

This weekend, JP Sports and Rock Solid Promotions held their White Plains National sports card show, featuring a selection of autograph guests that included former MLB and NFL stars as well as a few pro wrestlers and actors. There was really someone for just about everyone.

I was talking to my friend Bart on Friday and he mentioned that he was looking forward to the autograph show. Now I hardly ever get to see Bart or do things with him these days, so when he asked if I wanted to go with him, i was quick to agree since it lined up with a rare Saturday day off.

Continue reading “At the White Plains National”

Posted in Uncategorized

Collins a finalist for NL Manager of the Year; Cespedes wins Gold Glove

Terry Collins signs autographs (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Terry Collins signs autographs (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

New York Mets manager Terry Collins is one of three finalists for the National League Manager of the Year Award. Cubs manager Joe Maddon and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny are also finalists. The award winner will be announced November 17th.

Continue reading “Collins a finalist for NL Manager of the Year; Cespedes wins Gold Glove”

Posted in Baseball

Mets news & notes to end the week

Daniel Murphy plays in what was likely his final regular season game with the Mets on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Daniel Murphy plays in what was likely his final regular season game with the Mets on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

The Mets extended a $15.8 million qualifying offer to free agent Daniel Murphy today, though that doesn’t mean he is any more likely to return to the team in 2016. Rather, it was about making sure the Mets get an extra draft pick between the first and second rounds of next year’s amateur free agent draft. But it’s a good move, nonetheless. Before the playoff run, I was concerned that Sandy Alderson might let Murphy leave for no return.

Continue reading “Mets news & notes to end the week”

Posted in Baseball, Baseball Game Reports

Game 162

I planned to go to my last game of the season on Friday, Oct. 1… the first home game since the Mets clinched the National League East division title the week before. While Hurricane Joaquin spared our area, a nor’easter drenched us on Thursday and Friday and that game was rained out.

Because I had to work on Saturday, I wasn’t able to use my tickets for the rescheduled game. (I will have to exchange them for a game next April when I might have the chance to check out a new Mets’ World Series pennant.)

The Mets got a beautiful day for their final regular season game of 2015 on Oct. 4, 2015. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
The Mets got a beautiful day for their final regular season game of 2015 on Oct. 4, 2015. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

But I was off on Sunday and was able to score $11 tickets to the Mets’ final regular season game… which became significantly more important to me when I realized I hadn’t been to a game at Citi Field since Chris Heston no-hit the Mets in June. It seemed like a bad way to close out my year at the ballpark. When I saw that Jacob deGrom was scheduled to pitch Sunday, I knew it was meant to be… deGrom started all but one of the Mets games I went to this year, and they won all of those starts.

A lot of people must have had the same idea… or else they bought the tickets back when it seemed like the final series of the year could have playoff implications. Either way, Citi Field was packed. I arrived just after the gates opened, but didn’t get inside until almost 1:30.

There were people everywhere in the gift shops, mostly focused on picking out playoff souvenirs. Last year, I was able to find bargains and bought deGrom and Travis d’Arnaud shirseys. Sunday, everything was full price, so I just picked up a 2015 NL East Champs pin for my collection. I met up with my friend Vinny, who was purchasing a pin and pennant, and we wandered around the ballpark for a while.

The New York Mets wasted no time in hanging a 2015 National League East Division Champions banner at Citi Field (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
The New York Mets wasted no time in hanging a 2015 National League East Division Champions banner at Citi Field (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

We stopped to take pictures of the new NL East pennant the Mets are flying below the American flag. I was really happy to see it. I will be even happier if it is gone next April, replaced by a World Series pennant.

Yoenis Cespedes waits in the on-deck circle (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Yoenis Cespedes waits in the on-deck circle (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Like nearly every game I’ve been to at Citi Field, there was no particular significance to Game 162 of the 2015 season. But it was still nice to get one more afternoon at a ballpark, watching a baseball game with a friend.

Jacob deGrom pitched four hitless innings against the Washington Nationals on Oct. 4, 2015 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Jacob deGrom pitched four hitless innings against the Washington Nationals on Oct. 4, 2015 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

And for a little while, we got to wonder if we might see something more. DeGrom pitched four innings without allowing a hit before he departed, having reached his pitch target for the afternoon. Bartolo Colon kept the no-hitter going through five. Logan Verrett did his part in the sixth. And we started trying to remember if any team had ever thrown a “revenge no-hitter” against the team that had no-hit them in their previous game.

Bartolo Colon pitched an inning in relief against the Washington Nationals on Oct. 4, 2015. If Mets rookie Steven Matz is healthy, Colon will work out of the bullpen in the playoffs. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Bartolo Colon pitched an inning in relief against the Washington Nationals on Oct. 4, 2015. If Mets rookie Steven Matz is healthy, Colon will work out of the bullpen in the playoffs. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Vinny was livid when Jon Niese came in for the seventh. He was sure that Niese would give up the Nationals’ first hit. I was less concerned about that possibility than the idea that we could be watching a repeat of the final game of 2010, which didn’t end until Oliver Perez walked in the winning run in the 14th inning.

As it turned out, Vinny was prophetic. Clint Robinson hit a hard smash to shortstop that deflected off of Ruben Tejada on its way to right field with two outs in the seventh. That chased Niese and brought in Addison Reed to finish out the inning.

It’s probably for the best. Terry Collins used seven pitchers on Sunday – Howie Rose and Gary Cohen would probably even have trouble remembering all of them a few years down the line if they needed to tell the story of the second no-hitter in franchise history.

In the eighth inning, we got word that Ichiro Suzuki was pitching against the Philadelphia Phillies in the Miami Marlins’ final game of 2015. I’m sorry I didn’t get to see it.

Curtis Granderson takes a lead off first base after leading off the Mets' last regular season game with a single on Oct. 4, 2015. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Curtis Granderson takes a lead off first base after leading off the Mets’ last regular season game with a single on Oct. 4, 2015. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

But Curtis Granderson wanted to make sure we got to watch the Mets earn their 90th win – fulfilling Sandy Alderson‘s pre-season prediction that was once a source of bitter laughter. He hit a solo home run off of Nationals reliever Blake Treinen.

Jeurys Familia earned his 43rd save on Oct. 4, 2015, tying a Mets team record held by Armando Benitez (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Jeurys Familia earned his 43rd save on Oct. 4, 2015, tying a Mets team record held by Armando Benitez (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Despite a 9th inning double from Bryce Harper, Jeurys Familia was able to wrap up his franchise record-tying 43rd save and put the 2015 regular season in the books.

For the first time in nine years, the Mets will keep playing after Game 162. Vinny will have at least one more baseball game to watch at Citi Field this year. I will be watching the playoffs on TV.

That’s ok. For all of its frustrations and disappointments, this season has been a gift. The Mets made us believe again.

Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper waits for the results of a replay review after his ninth inning double off of Mets reliever Jeurys Familia on Oct. 4, 2015 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper waits for the results of a replay review after his ninth inning double off of Mets reliever Jeurys Familia on Oct. 4, 2015 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Mets at the halfway mark

This 2012 Panini Prime Cuts Kirk Nieuwenhuis baseball card is a recent addition to my collection.
This 2012 Panini Prime Cuts Kirk Nieuwenhuis baseball card is a recent addition to my collection.

The New York Mets wrapped up the first half of the 2015 baseball season with a 5-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday afternoon. Kirk Nieuwenhuis became the 10th player in Mets history to hit three home runs in one game, and he’s the first to do it in the Mets’ home ballpark.

Back during spring training, I think we’d all have agreed that a 47-42 record at the All-Star Break (just two games behind the Washington Nationals in the N.L. East and one game behind the Chicago Cubs for the second wild card) would be a successful start to the season.

The 2015 Mets have problems. It’s not clear when (or if) we will see David Wright or Travis d’Arnaud on the field again this year. The team ranks dead last in the National League in runs scored, hits, total bases, and batting average. They’re 14th in on-base percentage and 10th in home runs.

But their starting pitching is good enough to give the Mets a shot to win almost every night and Jeurys Familia has been the team’s MVP after inheriting the closer’s job when Jenrry Mejia was suspended.

It’s painful to watch the Mets waste great pitching performances because they can’t score runs, but it’s fun to watch those great pitching performances.

This may not be the year for the Mets to go all-in at the trade deadline, but the team they have has shown enough promise (and enough problems) that they have to do something to upgrade before the July 31 trade deadline if they expect anyone to believe that the front office cares about winning.

It’s probably asking to much to expect an upgrade over Ruben Tejada at shortstop in the next couple of weeks, but doing something to strengthen the outfield seems like a legitimate goal. Michael Cuddyer‘s been disappointing this year, but for his career he’s been better against lefties. Curtis Granderson is having a great season – against righties. Against lefties, he’s hitting .119. Seems like you’d gain if you could platoon the two veterans and find another left fielder. You’d also be improving a bench that’s been less productive than the Mets starting pitchers at the plate. And that seems like the kind of move you could make with second-tier prospects that don’t fit an immediate need and wouldn’t jeopardize the team’s long-term plans.

If Sandy Alderson stands pat, it’s going to be very demoralizing for the fans… but probably also for the players and manager Terry Collins. July is too early to say “wait until next year” this time.

Posted in Uncategorized

Thoughts on the New York Mets at Memorial Day, 2015

Members of the New York City Police Department unfurl a giant American flag across the outfield at Citi Field during the Mets' 2015 home opener in April (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Members of the New York City Police Department unfurl a giant American flag across the outfield at Citi Field before the Mets’ 2015 home opener in April (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Memorial Day is often thought of as the time that it makes sense to start looking at the MLB standings. More than a quarter of the schedule has been played, and we think we’re getting a handle on which teams are good, which teams could be “good enough,” and which teams need to wait until next year.

This Memorial Day certainly went better for the New York Mets than last year’s. No one got fired and they managed to win their game.

But all the hope and optimism generated by April’s 11-game winning streak are gone. Despite today’s victory, the Mets are just four games over the .500 mark and are mathematically closer to the third-place Atlanta Braves than the first place Washington Nationals.

Over the last seven days, the Mets are 2-5 and have been outscored 43-17. A lineup that had several question marks on Opening Day is now a serious cause for concern thanks to disappointing performances and injuries.

Continue reading “Thoughts on the New York Mets at Memorial Day, 2015”