Posted in Uncategorized

Mets Notes: Rafael Furcal, minor league free agents & WOR radio deal

Shaun Marcum's 2013 Topps Update card
Shaun Marcum’s 2013 Topps Update card

On the day I got Shaun Marcum‘s baseball card for my 2013 Topps Update Mets team set, the rumors have started about which “bargain basement” free agent injury reclamation project might be among Sandy Alderson‘s targets this winter.

The infamous “person with knowledge of the situation” tells Jorge Castillo of the Star-Ledger that the Mets could pursue Rafael Furcal instead of going after Stephen Drew or Jhonny Peralta to upgrade the Ruben Tejada / Omar Quintanilla combo at shortstop next season.

Of course, even though Furcal missed all of the 2013 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, he may not actually be much of a bargain. MLB Trade Rumors reports that four or five other teams also have interest in Furcal… surely that’s enough to start a bidding war.

Furcal’s 2012 line (.264 / .325 /.346) looks a lot nicer than Tejada’s numbers from 2013 (.202 / .259  / .260), but Tejada’s own 2012 line (.289 / .333 / .351) was better than Furcal’s.

If you remember Furcal’s early career with the Atlanta Braves, he used to be a big stolen base threat. That’s no longer true – you have to go back to 2010 to find a season where he reached 20 steals. And 2012 is the only year since 2009 when Furcal appeared in at least 100 games.

If you can pop the Atlanta Braves version of Furcal out of a time machine, I could get excited about the prospect of him being a Met. But I almost think I’d prefer to see Tejada get another chance if the 2014 version of Furcal is the best available “upgrade.”

Greg Burke (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Greg Burke (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

In other news, 17 minor league players in the Mets system became free agents because they were not added to the 40-man roster. Of the group, relief pitcher Greg Burke is probably the most notable, so there’s no real reason to stress about any of the departures.

And the Mets finalized their radio broadcasting agreement with WOR 710 on Monday, forging a tie with the Clear Channel Media family that also includes Z100, KTU and Q104. The interesting aspect of the team’s announcement that I didn’t see get that much play in the media coverage is this:

The Mets and Clear Channel Media and Entertainment will work together to enhance in-game entertainment at Citi Field and jointly explore the production and promotion of top name concerts, festivals and large-scale entertainment events at Citi Field.

I’m curious to see what actually develops in terms of concerts, festivals and “large-scale entertainment events.”

Posted in Baseball, Baseball Scorekeeping, Uncategorized

Put it in the books: Mets win 1st game of the spring

The first New York Mets game of 2013 is over, and the Mets won 5-3.

It’s the first time I’ve watched the Mets play since the Miami Marlins defeated them 4-3 on October 2nd, 2012, the game where Adam Greenberg finally got his major league at-bat.

Today was more fun. Ruben Tejada hit a wind-aided home run off of Stephen Strasburg. Zack Wheeler got to make his unofficial New York Mets debut. Collin Cowgill made a nice catch, hit a double and scored from second base on an error by Washington first baseman Micah Owings. Bobby Parnell kind of looked like a closer.

Sure, it’s just one game… and a Grapefruit League game at that. But this season is going to be about enjoying things where we find them.

I always keep a scorecard for the first baseball game that I watch each year, even if it is a spring training game on SNY.

ST-Game-1-ScorecardA

ST-Game-1-ScorecardB

I suspect I’ll end up scoring a few more games this spring as I continue to tweak my scorecard design. (I lost the original file for the scorecard I’ve been using for the last few seasons, so I’m taking advantage of the opportunity to revise it for 2013.)

I’m still concerned that having only two spaces per batting order slot will be a problem, but I like having more room to write player names.

I definitely need to clean up the “Game Notes” section some more, and I’m not happy with the way the running totals blend with the inning totals at the bottom of the page.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Capt. Obvious: Frank Francisco is Mets closer

New York Mets closer Frank Francsico
Frank Francisco will continue to be the New York Mets closer in 2013, according to manager Terry Collins (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

In a New York Post “exclusive,” Kevin Kernan reports that Terry Collins has proclaimed that Frank Francisco is the Mets’ closer.

“We saw last year when he is right, he is good,’’ Collins said. “I think he looks good. He is in the right frame of mind.’’

It’s a slow news day for baseball writers, unless they want to play armchair lawyer with the unraveling Biogenesis clinic story, but the only reason this even looks like a story is thanks to Sandy Alderson.

The Mets GM Monday repeated comments that questioned Francisco’s role on the team.

“I think a lot will depend on what we see over the course of February and into March,” Alderson said. “I think that’s something that will be determined in the course of spring training. Health is an issue. Performance is an issue.”

I’m no more enthused about Francisco than Alderson is, but I didn’t hand him a two-year, $12 million contract.

More to the point, who else is on the Mets roster that you’d rather see closing games?

Bobby Parnell, with his 14 career saves in five seasons, most of which did not come in anything resembling pressure situations?

Brandon Lyon has experience closing with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Houston Astros – but he’s not on the roster yet. (Edit: Yes he is, almost. The news of the signing broke this morning after I hit the “publish” button. But Lyon still has to pass a physical before the deal is official.)

If the Mets wanted to hand Parnell the closer’s job to see what he could do with it, that’s one thing. The 2013 Mets are probably a 70 win team, so they should experiment. But if that’s the case, why worry about what Francisco does in February and March?

And if Alderson’s comments over the past week were intended to improve his negotiating position with Lyon, his manager just sabotaged that effort. (Edit: Or not, since the Lyon deal has already been agreed to. Still, it would be nice to see Collins and Alderson on the same page.)

Nothing like a little silliness from the Mets’ brass to start the spring… at least we’re not worrying about when Ruben Tejada is going to get to camp this year.

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

On the last day of 2012…

Early winter morning

We’ve finally reached the end of 2012. On both a personal level and for the baseball teams that I follow, it wasn’t really a good year.

I’ve watched my father’s health decline throughout the year. I don’t usually get too personal on here, but my dad’s the one who taught me about baseball and took me to my first games – I can’t really talk about the game or look back on 2012 without thinking of him.

Gary Carter as manager of the Long Island Ducks in 2009 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Gary Carter as manager of the Long Island Ducks in 2009 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

I didn’t know Gary Carter, but his death was a loss for me and many other baseball fans as well as those who did know him personally. Carter was one of the rare few members of the 1986 Mets who tried to do admirable things off the baseball field as well as on it, and he will always be my favorite baseball player.

Moving from the sad to the frustrating, the New York Mets collapsed again after a strong start to the season in 2012. Only the disaster that was the  Miami Marlins saved the Mets from finishing in last place in the National League East. The team’s finances continue to be the most interesting story surrounding the Mets this off-season, and the biggest trade that Sandy Alderson made sent the Mets’ second-best player to Canada for talented prospects who aren’t likely to help before 2014 or later.

Mike Ness pitches for the Newark Bears on Opening Day (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Mike Ness pitches for the Newark Bears on Opening Day (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

The Newark Bears muddled through another losing season, finishing the year 30 games under .500 and with the lowest attendance in the Can-Am League.

Yep, not really a banner year anywhere.

But even so, there were bright spots. For the Bears, Mike Ness had a magical afternoon on July 11th when he pitched a no-hitter against the eventual league champion team despite a defense that committed six errors behind him.

It took 50 seasons (and a missed call by an umpire), but the Mets finally got their own no-hitter on June 1st.

And if Johan Santana was amazing that night, R.A. Dickey was amazing all season long. Despite an offense that seemed to go days between scoring runs in the second half, Dickey became the Mets’ first 20-game winner since Frank Viola and their first Cy Young Award winner since Dwight Gooden.

R.A. Dickey pitches for the New York Mets on May 27th, 2012 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
R.A. Dickey pitches for the New York Mets on May 27th, 2012 (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Dickey’s one-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles on June 18th was the best baseball memory I’ve had at Citi Field. That night, he became the first pitcher in all of baseball to throw back-to-back one-hitters since Dave Stieb did it for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1988.

David Wright (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
David Wright (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

David Wright set new franchise records for RBIs and hits – I was in the ballpark when he set the RBI mark in April. During the off-season, he signed a contract extension that will likely allow him to retire as a Met, so we can watch him extend and set more franchise career records.

Jonathon Niese and Ruben Tejada took steps forward, and Matt Harvey made a positive impression once he was promoted from the minor leagues. And if Ike Davis‘s overall numbers for 2012 aren’t especially pretty, he did finish strong after a terrible start.

And on a personal note again, I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made who I’ve gone to baseball games with, who have helped me with my autograph or baseball card collections, or who’ve just spent time talking baseball with me here, on Twitter or on Facebook.

There’s a quote from a Doctor Who episode that seems like a perfect way to sum up 2012:

The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things…. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant.

This year’s almost gone, and next year promises another pile of good and bad things for us. Let’s try to enjoy the good ones – such as those magical performances at the ballpark, or times spent watching the game with friends or family – and not let the bad ones spoil the rest.

What stood out for you in 2012? What are you looking forward to in 2013?

You can “Like” Paul’s Random Baseball Stuff on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter and Flickr.

Posted in Uncategorized

Expected losses

I’ve reached the point where it no longer bothers me when the Mets lose. I expect it.

I tuned in tonight to watch Matt Harvey‘s final start of 2012, because he’s one of the few players on the team that I actually still want to see. But before I even got the TV turned on, Harvey had already given up a leadoff home run to Jimmy Rollins. I figured he’d lose 1-0.

But the Mets surprised me. Ruben Tejada singled and actually stole a base in the third inning. Daniel Murphy got a hit to drive him in, and Harvey was off the hook. David Wright added a solo homer in the sixth, and it seemed like Harvey might get his fourth win of the season.

Bobby Parnell followed Harvey’s seven superb innings with a scoreless eighth. With Frank Francisco unavailable to pitch the ninth, Terry Collins turned to Josh Edgin and it seemed like he’d get his first major league save when he struck out the first two batters he faced.

But then it was time for our first half flashback, when the bullpen was the primary cause of frustrating losses instead of a complete absence of offense.

Chase Utley walked. Ryan Howard made a baseball disappear into the right field stands.

Game over, but not before Bob Davidson and Jordany Valdespin had an opportunity to embarrass themselves on a third strike call in the bottom of the ninth.

At least the fans who went to the game shouldn’t have had a problem getting out of the ballpark after it was all over.

Don’t look now – the Marlins are only one game behind the Mets. The race to the bottom might be one that the Mets can win.