Posted in Baseball

A lump of coal from the Mets

During the Mets’ playoff run, we wondered if they would find a way to re-sign Yoenis Cespedes.

After the World Series, we started thinking about more “realistic” center field options for the Mets this off-season: Denard Span, Gerardo Parra, Dexter Fowler.

Silly us.

Continue reading “A lump of coal from the Mets”

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Posted in Baseball

So you're saying there's a chance….

CitiFieldFor one night at least, everything went right in Mets-land.

  • Michael Conforto went 4-for-4 with a walk in his second major league game.
  • Kelly Johnson made a good first impression in his Mets debut by going 2-for-6 with a home run.
  • Kirk Nieuwenhuis also went 4-for-4, driving in four of the Mets’ 15 runs.
  • Lucas Duda hit a pair of home runs, offering hope that he’s returning to his April & May All-Star candidate form.
  • Daniel Murphy went 2-for-4, including a home run
  • Matt Harvey went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs… oh, and he pitched a pretty good game too.

It’s fun to watch your team score 15 runs on 21 hits in a single night instead of taking a whole week to reach those totals. Imagine if Terry Collins issued that “hit or sit” ultimatum a little bit sooner.

The Mets have a tougher challenge awaiting them today. Zack Greinke hasn’t given up a run since June 13th… but maybe, just maybe, the Mets can be the team to put an end to his scoreless innings streak.

And maybe, just maybe, they can find enough offense on a consistent basis to get their amazing starting rotation to the postseason where anything can happen.

It might take something on the order of a minor miracle, but after games like last night’s it’s easier to believe.

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 Baseball, Uncategorized

Time to be spoilers

CitiFieldDropping three out of four games to the San Francisco Giants this weekend seems to have put an end to any talk of the New York Mets being part of a pennant race in 2014.

I refused to believe in the phantom playoff run while the Mets’ record was under the .500 mark, but they definitely can still play a role in deciding who wins the National League East.

Tonight is the first of 13 games the Mets have left against the Washington Nationals. While I’m loathe to see them help out the Atlanta Braves, I’d love it if the Mets were able to knock Washington out of the playoff picture.

I’m also encouraged by the Mets’ decision to remove Bobby Abreu from the active roster. While the former Phillies star was briefly one of the Mets’ best hitters, he turned out to be completely unsuited to a pinch-hitting role.

I hope that Terry Collins actually plays Kirk Nieuwenhuis so we can find out if he can be a contributor at the major league level now and in 2015. There is no reason to continue to start Chris Young on a regular basis, and little reason to keep him on the roster except to salve Sandy Alderson‘s ego.

Nieuwenhuis, Eric Campbell and Eric Young Jr. can all play left field. They may or may not hit more than Chris Young did when given regular playing time, but they are all under team control in 2015. Chris Young’s contract mercifully expires at the end of the season and he’ll be left hoping that his agent can find another major league general manager who believes he can return to his 2010 All-Star form.

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

A last-minute reprieve

When I tuned in today’s Mets game and saw that they’d managed just one hit off of Matt Garza in the first four innings and the Cubs had a 1-0 lead, I expected to be writing about another loss today.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, seen here taking a lead off third base in Saturday's game, got to be the hero on Father's Day with a walk-off home run (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, seen here taking a lead off third base in Saturday’s game, got to be the hero on Father’s Day with a walk-off home run (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

This Keystone Cops routine in the fifth by the Mets’ infield did little to change that impression.

Zero runs on three hits after eight innings? Well, at least the Mets are a reassuring  constant that you can depend on.

But that script went out the window in the bottom of the ninth inning, thanks to Dale Sveum’s decision to bring Carlos Marmol into the game.

Marlon Byrd homered, and I texted my friend that it would have been nice if he did that back in the sixth inning when he came up with two men on base.

Lucas Duda walked for the 9000th time this year.

John Buck singled, his second hit of the game.

I thought the Mets might have a shot, until I remembered that Omar Quintanilla, Kirk Niewenhuis and the pitcher’s spot were due up next.

When Terry Collins wasted an out by having Quintanilla bunt for Nieuwenhuis and Collin Cowgill, I figured this was probably going to be a “too little, too late” rally.

I underestimated Marmol.

Maybe they can build on this victory and put together a mini winning streak with Dillon Gee on the mound tomorrow in Atlanta – he did win both of the Mets’ previous June victories. Maybe not.

But today’s game was a reminder that anything can happen and sometimes a team that looked horrible for eight innings can pull things together in the ninth.

Posted in Autographs, Uncategorized

Sadly, we’re still talking about Santana

The Mets and the media are still turning Johan Santana‘s spring into a circus.

Terry Collins
Terry Collins (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Today it was Terry Collins‘ turn to get in on the act, and he sounds every bit like the lame-duck manager he is:

Said Collins: “I asked, ‘What did you get on the mound for?’ And he said, ‘Because I felt good.’ And I said, ‘It was unnecessary.’”

Said Collins: “I said, ‘The last thing I need is to have you wake up tomorrow stiff and then we take a huge step backward because you wanted to show everybody you’re OK….

[via ESPN New York]

So, here we have Santana – a $25 million+ investment who was until recently expected to be the Opening Day starter – throwing without his manager’s approval or knowledge until after the fact.

The Mets are really looking like winners here, aren’t they? And it all started because Sandy Alderson – the one who was supposedly hired to make the Mets look more competent and respectable – decided to open his mouth in front of a bunch of reporters.

Fun if you’re a tabloid reporter or sports radio talk show host… otherwise, not so much.

Autographed 1988 Topps Dwight Gooden card from my collection
Autographed 1988 Topps Dwight Gooden card from my collection

And while we’re on the subject, here’s an even less-fun story via TMZ, of all places: Dwight Gooden has a temporary restraining order filed against him because he allegedly threatened his estranged wife and her family.

If you want some good news regarding the Mets… well, Kirk Nieuwenhuis is only expected to miss a week or so after injuring his knee while stealing a base on Sunday. The way things have been going, I was afraid it would turn into a season-ending injury and it didn’t, so at least there’s that.

And I’ve got a couple of new additions to my Mets autograph collection. Non-roster outfielder Andrew Brown signed a card I mailed to him via Mets spring training camp, but the Mike Piazza card was a purchase.

Mike-Piazza Andrew-Brown

Posted in Uncategorized

I really want this “Capt. Kirk” bobblehead

Concept artwork for the "Cyclones at the Movies" bobbleheads, taken from the Brooklyn Cyclones website
Concept artwork for the “Cyclones at the Movies” bobbleheads, taken from the Brooklyn Cyclones website

I’ve got to hand it to the Brooklyn Cyclones marketing department – they come up with some whimsical ideas for bobblehead giveaways.

This year, the Cyclones are offering a five-game mini-plan with four exclusive bobbleheads “featuring Brooklyn stars in Hollywood roles.”

Now the Bobby Parnell, Brandon Nimmo and Cory Vaughn ones don’t particularly do anything for me… but as a Star Trek fan, how could I not want an actual “Captain Kirk” Nieuwenhuis bobblehead (even if whoever put together this graphic didn’t quite spell his name correctly.)

Unfortunately, I think I’m going to have to resort to eBay to try to add it to my collection… three of the five giveaway days are Sundays, but the “Captain Kirk” bobblehead night is scheduled for Tuesday, August 20th, and I think I’d have a hard time getting away from work in time to get out to Coney Island for the game.

In other bobblehead news, the New York Mets unveiled their full promotional schedule today. David Wright, Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden join Ron Darling and John Franco as part of the All-Star Bobblehead Series, and there’s a limited Knitting Mr. Met bobblehead available through a special offer. (I’m kind of disappointed that there’s no Ron Hunt one – he was the first Mets player to start an All-Star Game and it would have been a nice tie to the only other time the Mets hosted the game.)