Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Mets still hanging on despite inept offense

Michael Conforto's 2014 Bowman Draft baseball card
Is Michael Conforto the answer to the Mets’ offensive woes?

The New York Mets salvaged the final game of their weekend series with the St. Louis Cardinals and are continuing to tread water in both the National League East and wildcard races. In the former, they trail Washington by 2 games and have a chance to make up ground when they play the Nationals starting tonight. In the latter, they trail the Chicago Cubs by 2 games, with the San Francisco Giants in between them at 1 game back.

And though the standings say the Mets are very much in the race, another set of numbers paints a very different picture.

In yesterday’s 18-inning victory, the Mets tied a club record by stranding 25 runners on base. (The mark was originally set in 1974 during a 25-inning game.) Mets hitters went 1-for-26 with runners in scoring position and are 3-for-62 with runners in scoring position over their last 8 games. For the season, Mets batters have hit .227 with runners in scoring position and have driven in just 222 runs. Only the Seattle Mariners have been less productive.

Does anybody else see the flaw in Sandy Alderson‘s offensive philosophy that focuses on walks and home runs?

I watched the first six innings of Sunday’s game before I went to work. When I checked to see who won during my break and saw that they were still playing, I half-expected that the game would still be going on when I got home.

Fortunately, the Mets won and I was spared about four hours of frustrating baseball. Unfortunately, we’re looking at a team that could be very tough to watch if Alderson doesn’t do something to improve the offense soon – amazing starting pitching can only carry you so far.

And it looks like a not-very-deep lineup is only going to get worse. Michael Cuddyer is probably headed to the disabled list if the Mets trainers can’t help his balky knee with whatever secret treatment plan they’ve cooked up to try today. Cuddyer’s .250 / .300 / .380 slash line has been disappointing, but Kirk Nieuwenhuis and his .175 / .242 / .404 slash line will probably get the most playing time because of Cuddyer’s absence. And Darrell Ceciliani – the most likely call-up candidate – hit .206 / .270 / .279 during his first stint with the Mets.

There’s increasing pressure to promote top prospect Michael Conforto from Double-A Binghamton, where he’s hitting .325 with 5 home runs and 24 RBI in 41 games. But Conforto is a second-year pro with all of 570 plate appearances. A number of scouts believe he could succeed at the major league level despite his young age. And honestly, it would not be hard to offer more production than Nieuwenhuis, Ceciliani and John Mayberry Jr. (.180 / .250 /.354.)

But if Conforto gets promoted to the Mets this month, particularly in the absence of any significant trade deadline acquisitions, fans and media are going to look to him to carry an offense that looks dead on arrival most nights. If he’s not the second coming of Darryl Strawberry — or at least the 1988 version of Gregg Jefferies — things could get really ugly, really fast. I’d hate to see a kid get labeled as a bust if he doesn’t immediately succeed in a job he might not be ready for.

Conforto should see a promotion – to Triple-A, where he’ll face pitchers with some major league experience. But that’s really not going to help the 2015 Mets offense… I hope Alderson has something in mind that will.

Posted in Autographs, Baseball, Uncategorized

Starting the second half

How great was Jacob deGrom‘s All-Star appearance? By next week, I’m pretty sure I will have forgotten the outcome of the game…but deGrom’s completely unhittable, 10-pitch three-strikeout inning is going to be a lasting memory.

The All-Star Break is over and the New York Mets will be back in action tonight. Noah Syndergaard takes on the St. Louis Cardinals to open up the second half.

The next couple of weeks will tell us a lot about whether the Mets really have a chance to play post-season baseball this year. Can they hold their own with the Cardinals and Dodgers and gain ground when they play the Nationals? Will Sandy Alderson make any moves at the trade deadline? Will he instead follow in the footsteps of the Cubs and promote 2014 first-round draft pick Michael Conforto to try to spark the offense?

I guess we won’t have much longer to wait to find out.

Speaking of Syndergaard, he and Steven Matz are scheduled to sign autographs at the The East Coast National Show at Westchester County Center in White Plains, N.Y., on August 15th. The signing fees are a bit steep – $69 for photos and baseballs, $79 for bats and jerseys – but that seems to be the way things are headed, unfortunately. (Should either pitcher be scheduled to start that day, or should Matz be on a minor league rehab assignment, their appearances will be cancelled.)

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

A pair of New York – Penn League games

Parachute Jump 100_5176

Last week, I got to check out the Brooklyn Cyclones and Staten Island Yankees. (I like to go to at least one Cyclones game every year, and I’ve added the Staten Island Yankees to the list because I really enjoy their ballpark.)

For Thursday’s hockey night jersey giveaway in Brooklyn, I arrived almost two hours before the gates opened, and there were already a dozen or so folks lined up. By the time my friend joined me, the line stretched back to the ticket windows and it looped around into a giant snake by the time the ballpark opened for all fans at 5:30 p.m.

I was impressed with the organization of the crowd, but most appeared to be Cyclones’ regulars who come to all of the team’s weekly jersey giveaways. Fans had the option of paying $3 to trade the size XL jersey they were handed at the gate for a size XXL one at a table inside if they chose. (I’m not sure if folks who would have preferred a smaller jersey were also accommodated.)

Unfortunately, I timed my trip badly in another respect – I missed seeing 2014 New York Mets first round draft pick Michael Conforto make his professional debut by two days. ( He was still in California for an awards show when I went.)

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