Monday, January 31, 2011

Things to Look Forward to this Season

After talking to my brother, he still thinks that this season is gonna suck for the Mets. Actually, a lot of people think that this season is gonna suck for the Mets. Me? I don't think it's gonna be pretty, but I don't think it can get any worse than it got last year. Last year's team was a team that couldn't string together three wins in a row if their life depended on it. No, really. I have the pocket schedule to prove it.

After thinking about it for a while, I have come up with a few things that make me look forward to this season. With 15 days until pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie, baseball is getting closer and closer and I find myself excited. Why? I thought you'd never ask:

1. We now employ a manager who can speak in coherent sentences. By hiring Terry Collins, we finally can say goodbye to mumbling press conferences and quietly snicker to ourselves as we can't help but to think Collins reminds us of the high talker from Seinfeld.
2. David Wright can finally get back to being David Wright. David did pretty okay for himself last season being the only "real" bat in the lineup. A lineup of Bay, Beltran, Wright never got to fruition last season, but with some of the pressure off of Wright, I am expecting he will perform better.
3. Two more years of R.A. Dickey! Dickey was the highlight of last season, our team MVP. Towards the end of 2010, he was the only pitcher I could rely on to get the win. This is his year to prove that last year wasn't a fluke.
4. Bring on the Phillies. As much as I hate the Philadelphia Phillies, I do enjoy the rivalry. Sure, they may have picked up Cliff Lee. Sure, they have the two Roys (Halladay and Oswalt) and Cole Hamels, but they lost perhaps their biggest Met-killer in Jayson Werth, who is now employed by the Nationals (darn....). Three words: Bring. It. On.
5. The possibility of a home-grown infield. Assuming Daniel Murphy beats Luis Castillo for the second base job, the entire Mets infield will be made up of home-grown players. And that's not even mentioning Josh Thole. I know for me, I'd rather see an infield of Wright, Reyes, Murphy, and Davis. Maybe Murph is the second baseman of the long as he remembers to use both hands when catching a pop fly ball hit by Alex Rodriguez.

Now that I brought up the possibility of a home-grown infield, I really hope it happens. The only thing that has to happen is that Luis Castillo gets a bum knee. Or two. And for Daniel Murphy to be ready to play the position. That is also key.

Countdown to Pitchers and Catchers: 15

Friday, January 28, 2011

Wilpons Considering "Minority Stakeholder" in Mets

In the first Mets news that has made me genuinely gasp in shock, the Wilpon family is considering selling a minority stake in the Mets, something in the range of 20-25%.

All of this goes back to their troubles with Bernie Madoff, and the air of uncertainty regarding a lawsuit with a Madoff trustee.

The Wilpons are said to be looking into a number of potential options, "including the addition of one or more startegic partners."

However, regardless of the outcome, Sterling Equities will remain the primary ownership group of the Mets.

I have just a couple of (out there) suggestions:

1. Do like the Green Bay Packers do and let fans buy into the team. The Packers are the only non-profit, community-owned franchise in American sports (big leagues, not minor leagues). A share of the Packers runs at about $200, but who wouldn't put that kind of money down for a say in their favorite team? I hear a lot of fans saying, "They should do this" or "They should do that" but perfectly good ideas have never gone to fruition. Except for the hiring of Sandy Alderson. That was all she wrote.
2. Celebrity Mets fans buying into the team. What if Jerry Seinfeld and Kevin James had a say? They have the money, why not? It makes sense. Seinfeld and James are easily some of the most high-profile Mets fans, and knowing that at least one person in the office has a genuine vested interest in the team would put many fans at ease. Think about it Wilpons; we could have Seinfeld in the broadcast booth more often.

Okay, so my ideas are kind of out there, not likely to happen. Does anybody else in the blogosphere have any better ideas?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I Love Being In Florida

(Photo courtesy of Adam Rubin, at Citi Field yesterday....probably worse today)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Great Expectations

Spring training is less than three weeks away and I am so excited for it to finally be baseball season! I, like many of you, am kinda bummed about the Jets losing but it just means that we are that much closer to seeing David Wright, Jose Reyes, and the Boys of Summer take the field once again.

The front office has already called this season a "rebuilding" year and fans are considering it a loss. But in our last "rebuilding" year, the Mets were 83-79 and David Wright became a household name. Then in 2006, we had the most awesomest year ever until Guillermo Mota let off that triple to Scott Spiezio. 2012 is the new 2006. But that's still a way's away. Here's what I expect in 2011:

1. Mike Pelfrey steps up in Johan Santana's absence. Terry Collins has already tapped Pelfrey to be his opening day starter. Collins thinks highly of him. I hope we get 1st-half Pelfrey and not 2nd-half Pelfrey.
2. Chris Capuano to make us say, "What Tommy John surgery?" We got Chris Capuano...about three years too late. Theoretically speaking, he should still be in his prime...or at least perform good enough so that Oliver Perez stays out of the rotation.
3. Cut Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez. This is a lot easier said than done because of all the money we'd be throwing away. However, the Mets drafted a middle infielder in the Rule V Draft and expect to have Daniel Murphy in camp competing for the second base job. They've also signed quite a few relief arms in Taylor Tankersley, Blaine Boyer, and Taylor Buchholz, all of whom are expected to compete for spots in the Mets' bullpen.
4. The David Wright Strikeout Counter lives on. Honestly, this counter kept me watching this past season. Without the David Wright Strikeout Counter, I probably would have tuned out in July. And I'm starting it in Spring Training this year, so watch out peeps!
5. Jason Bay to remind us that Jason Bay is still a Met. I honestly forgot all about Jason Bay until he showed up at the team Christmas party to see Santa David (honestly, where the hell was I?). His first season as a Met ended after 95 games, a .259 batting average, 6 home runs, and 47 RBI. I just want the Jason Bay of 2009 to show up. I thought we signed that guy.

We all have our own set of expectations. I really just want the Mets to have fun again. They've been so focused on winning and making the fans happy that we're all just disgusted with the way they're playing. I miss the handshakes and the high fives and the Jose Reyes Spanish Academy. Sure, it's what has made other team hate us, but that's what I love.

Friday, January 14, 2011

When One Met Killer Dies, Another One is Born

The Mets announced today that they signed Willie Harris to a minor-league deal, with an invitation to Spring Training.

Most Met fans know Willie Harris as "that guy on the Nationals that makes sweet defensive plays to defeat any hope the Mets have of beating the worst team in the division."

Harris isn't much of an offensive player; in 10 big league seasons, he's hit .239 with 37 home runs and 187 RBI. So why sign him? Because he makes sweet defensive plays in the outfield and defeats any hope the Mets have of beating the worst team in the division.

However, while getting one less Met killer off the field is great, somebody new always emerges. And you usually don't see it coming. Like Willie Harris being a Met killer. Like Jeff Francoeur being a Met killer. Like Oliver Perez being a Met killer. Like the month of September being a Met killer.

The Nationals have, in my opinion, assembled a team of players that can beat the Mets, but no other team. They have Adam LaRoache. They have Jayson Werth. And Strasburg will probably end up being a Met killer. They have former Met Livan Hernandez, who pitched unusally well when he was pitching against the Mets. I think the Nationals may be taking baby steps here. Like win 60 games, beat the Mets, break .500.

Somebody new always emerges to ruin the lives of the Mets and Mets fans alike. Usually somebody within the division. I would jump the gun and guess Roy Halladay but he owns the whole National League.

Welcome to New York, Willie Harris. I hope you saved some sweet defensive plays for us.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Ultimate Mission From God

It all started in 2006. My first ever trip to Tradition Field, now called Digital Domain Park. On a fluke, and literally two minutes before the game started, I got David Wright's autograph. It sits proudly next to my David Wright bobblehead. However, the ball I had signed also has the autographs of a few minor leaguers and an ex-general manager. So I swore that next year, I would try again.

Fast forward to March 7, 2007. The Mets were actually a legitimate team. They had come to Fort Myers to play the Red Sox, so I figured I'd try my luck again. I mean, how hard could it be? I got it last year! Plus, Mets fans would be way outnumbered by the Red Sox fans. I was only right about the latter of my two points. For two hours before the game, I tried to no avail. Then, in the 8th inning, we left our seats to go wait by the team bus. David comes out, stops right in front of me, and I get trampled. Trampled. My Sharpie flew out of my hand and ended up under David's feet. David leaves. My brother has his autograph; I didn't even get my Sharpie back as the security guy saw it on the ground and put it in his pocket without even asking if anybody had dropped it. Bastard. And to make it worse, my brother says, "At least you got Howard Johnson's autograph!"

"But it's not the same!!!!!!"

Spring training 2008. Mets have acquired Johan Santana. Johan Santana comes on the bus to Fort Myers. David Wright does not. And we drove to Port St. Lucie on two seperate Sundays, and we had really good seats both times. At the end of the three games, I had Endy Chavez's autograph. I had begged, pleaded, and I even cried for David Wright to come and sign. Not working.

2009 and 2010 were wash years for me. 2009 was the year David was in the World Baseball Classic and the only thing I have to show from 2010 is a $50 refund check from the Minnesota Twins.

This year, I have no excuse. 2011 is my year. I will get David Wright's autograph, as I have made this my goal this spring training. The Mets play the Twins on March 16th and the Red Sox on March 17th, which means an overnight stay in Fort Myers. Assuming that David Wright gets on that bus, I may have to stake out the hotel. I probably won't be the only Mets fan doing so, but I won't get trampled either. Where would the Mets even stay???? Call me crazy, but I'll be upset about March 7, 2007 until I have that newly minted autograph in my hands.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Welcome to the Island of Misfit Toys

The Mets have signed LHP Chris Capuano and RHP Taylor Buchholz to one-year contracts. Both pitchers are expected to compete for (and probably get) rotation spots this spring.

Both Capuano and Buchholz are coming off Tommy John surgery. Actually, Capuano is coming off his second Tommy John surgery. Last season for the Brewers, Capuano went 4-4 with a 3.95 ERA in 24 appearances, which included nine starts. Buchholz threw just 12 innings for the Blue Jays last season, having been on a rehab assignment until July. However, in 2008 with the Rockies, opponents hit .188 against Buchholz. In 63 releif appearances, he had a 2.17 ERA.

At least Sandy Alderson's first signing of 2011 was for pitching. We need bullpen help and maybe a starter. I would love it if he could get rid of Oliver Perez, but I really don't see it happening. I do see somebody coming off his second Tommy John surgery beating Oliver Perez for a rotation spot. I'm on Team Capuano. At least Capuano, according to Willie Randolph, "is a hard worker."

I suppose the perfect metaphor for these Mets would be that of the Island of Misfit Toys. Even in 1962, when the expansion draft was held, the Mets were made up of guys that nobody wanted. The 2011 Mets, right now, seem to be guys that nobody wants. I mean, we probably could have gotten something for Fernando Martinez....two years ago. Same goes for Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and I'll even throw Luis Castillo in for argument's sake. Arguably our only player of high trade value right now is The Man himself, David Wright, and he goes nowhere.

Now, you couldn't get teams to take Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo off your hands because of their overpaying contracts/low performances!

Mets fans are pretty loyal to their team, and have grown to love players like R.A. Dickey, Mike Pelfrey, and Angel Pagan. But what about Misfits like Perez and Castillo? They're on like their own sub-island of the Island of Misift Toys. Not even their own fan base will touch them with a 10-foot pole (yet, Oliver Perez's face glares at me whenever I play Uno with my Mets deck).

So, I welcome Chris Capuano and Taylor Buchholz to the Island of Misfit Toys, where they will mingle with the Charlie-in-the-Box and the spotted elephant. That spotted elephant was awesome, just like out last misfit signing, R.A. Dickey. I don't think either of them will have trouble finding their role on the Mets, because lets face it, they want to do their job; Oliver Perez doesn't.