Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Why Should We Believe Baseless Nonsense?

Prior to the 2011 season, nearly every baseball writer (national and local alike) was convinced Jose Reyes was going to be traded during the season. They had no facts to back it up, but it just "seemed" right to them. Their absurd claims caused tons of Mets fans to have near nervous breakdowns, while a select group of fans chose to look at things rationally - realizing that it made no sense to trade Jose Reyes, and that it wasn't going to happen.

As Jon Heyman surmised in an article on June 20th:

For a while, it appeared that his (Reyes) being traded was a foregone conclusion...

No, Jon, it didn't. Jose Reyes being traded made for good articles, sold papers, added clicks to websites, and drove Mets fans crazy. It was never close to being a foregone conclusion, nor was it ever likely.

Now that free agency is about to get underway, the media is at it again. Nearly every writer and talking head is shouting for all the world to hear that Jose Reyes is a goner. There's no way he'll be signing with the "cash-strapped" Mets, they say. They claim that Sandy Alderson (who it's pretty clear does not allow major leaks out of his front office) won't be willing to offer what it takes to re-sign Reyes (even though no one has any idea what it will actually take). All the media claims to know is that whatever the final number is, Alderson will shy away.

My favorite has to be today's headline above Andy Martino's article. That headline states that

"GM Sandy Alderson says Mets plan to make low contract offer to Free Agent SS Jose Reyes."

The only problem with that headline is that nowhere in the article is there any statement or hint from Alderson at what the Mets' offer will be (low, moderate, or otherwise). This is completely reckless journalism, pandering to the segment of the fan base that is gullible enough to believe it.

The "juiciest" quote in Martino's article is this one:

Sources familiar with the team's thinking have maintained that the Mets are unwilling to offer six or seven years, and might be uncomfortable with five.
The above quote is not only vague...it's also not from anyone who actually works for the Mets. Even if Martino claimed the quote was from a Mets executive (which it isn't), it could also be seen as a negotiating ploy. Why would anyone in the Mets' front office come out publicly and tip their hand? The answer, of course, is that they wouldn't - especially considering how tight lipped things have been under Sandy Alderson.

What I want to know from the writers and talking heads is this: What exactly has changed from July (when the Mets refused to trade Reyes) to now? From my end, the only major development that can potentially impact the Mets' finances was the positive ruling the Wilpon's received in the Bernard Madoff/Irving Picard lawsuit. Sandy Alderson indicated that the 2012 payoll would likely be around $110 million, of which only $65 million is currently allocated. Jose Reyes stated repeatedly during the season that he wanted to remain with the Mets (when he could've easily said "no comment" or been non-commital). According to Ken Rosenthal on Twitter, Sandy Alderson recently asked Jose Reyes' agents what it would take - in both dollars and years - to take Jose Reyes off the market. Reyes' agents failed to respond, likely because they've been determined all along to take Reyes to free agency. It certainly sounds to me like Sandy Alderson is serious about retaining him. However, he's being prudent and is refusing to set the market.

If Sandy Alderson either didn't have the payroll flexibility to keep Reyes or simply didn't want to keep him, you'd think he would've been more open to trading him over the summer. He wasn't. We heard a few weeks ago (from the writers, of course), that the Mets would seek a quick answer from Reyes' agents and would move on if they didn't receive it. Well, it appears that assumption was false, with Alderson himself stating yesterday that it will be a "slow process," and intimating that the Mets are prepared to wait it out.

If some team comes out and guarantees Jose Reyes 7 or 8 years, he'll most likely be playing elsewhere in 2012. I simply can't see that happening, though. Perhaps someone guarantees 6 years for Reyes, but perhaps no one will guarantee more than 5. I'm confident, though, that the Mets' front office knows what they're doing. I'm confident that they want Jose Reyes back, and that Reyes wants to stay (as he himself stated over and over during the season). I surmised during the season, when most Mets fans were running around like chickens with their heads cut off, that it simply made no sense for the Mets to trade Reyes - and that the Mets wouldn't trade Reyes. With Reyes about to hit the open market, the only prediction I can make is this: No one knows a thing about what the Mets or anyone else will offer Jose Reyes. Until we do, it makes no sense to doubt the Mets' chances of re-signing him for 2012 and beyond. It makes for a good story, but it's a story that's not based in reality. A story designed to get attention, not designed to be factual.

Ignore it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Futures of Reyes and Wright

At the beginning of the 2011 season, most beat writers held the notion that Jose Reyes would be traded before the All-Star break. When that didn't happen, "the Mets may not be able to afford both Reyes and Wright" became the new meme. Now, the question has simply become whether or not the Mets should hold onto Reyes, Wright, or both. Not because of dire financial straits, but because some are questioning whether or not the team would be better off without one or both of them.

The screams bellowing from the less astute writers suggest that since the Mets haven't won a World Series with Reyes and/or Wright, how could they possibly be worse off if one or both of them was gone? I find that suggestion to be not only absurd, but insulting to anyone who follows baseball religiously. I'm not going to waste anyone's time by pointing out how many All-Star/Hall of Fame caliber players went their entire careers without ever making the Playoffs. Those men (and there are many), were victims of the players that surrounded them.

There are some who throw out an arbitrary amount of years it will be before the Mets are "competitive" again. In actuality, no one has any idea how long it will be before this team returns to the Playoffs. The 2009 Mets won 70 games, the 2010 Mets won 79 games. In 2011, the Mets won 77 games - a small step back as far as the win total was concerned. However, it's important to note that the 2011 Mets, with an eye on the future, dealt Carlos Beltran (their most productive offensive player), and Francisco Rodriguez. Had Beltran and Rodriguez not been dealt, the team would most likely have finished right around .500 or a bit better. The trades hurt the team on the field, and probably had a bit of a negative effect on morale. It's also important to note that the Mets played most of this past season without Ike Davis, whose return in 2012 should somewhat negate the absence of Carlos Beltran from the lineup.

Everyone (myself included) has gone over the non-baseball reasons for wanting to keep both Jose Reyes and David Wright. The fans love Reyes, and to a lesser extent Wright. They're marketable. They're homegrown Mets. A separate worry is what the departure of one or both of these players would mean revenue-wise for the team in terms of ticket sales. However, let's focus on the on baseball/team construction aspect only. First, David Wright will be addressed. Next, Jose Reyes will be addressed. Lastly, the potential of the team will be addressed.

David Wright

Turning 29 this December, some argue that David Wright is already past his prime. From 2005-2008, Wright was an MVP candidate. In 2009, he had a brutal year. He was adjusting to the new dimensions at Citi Field, had no protection in the lineup, and was drilled in the head with a fastball by Matt Cain. In 2010, though, Wright rebounded to once again eclipse the 100 RBI mark to go along with 29 homers. It wasn't quite vintage Wright, but it was enough to show that 2009 was an aberration. 2011 was injury riddled for Wright. He played through a broken back before it finally forced him to the disabled list.

Dealing Wright now makes virtually no sense baseball wise, for three reasons.

1. Although some say tons of teams would be clamoring for his services, you'd be selling incredibly low. He's coming off a serious injury, and hit only .254 in 2011 - the lowest average of his career by nearly 30 points. If the Mets really do want to trade David Wright, it should be done during the 2012 season if/when he reverts to at least his 2010 level of production.

2. The Mets don't have anyone on the roster (or in the minors) who would be able to replace Wright's bat in the lineup, his glove at third base, or his leadership in the clubhouse. Aside from second baseman Reese Havens, the better hitting prospects in the organization are all in the lower levels of the minors - and are all extremely raw. The only blue-chip prospects in the organization are pitchers: Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia, Zack Wheeler, and Jenrry Mejia.

3. The dimensions at Citi Field are about to be adjusted. In 2009, the Mets unveiled a ballpark that featured a right center field power alley that became a death valley for Wright. That alley will be shortened significantly, and the left field wall (another favorite target of Wright's) will be lowered and brought in. It would be foolish to deal Wright before seeing what he could do in his adjusted home park.

Jose Reyes

Reyes turned 28 this past June, and despite two brief stints on the disabled list, put up incredible numbers - including winning the National League batting crown. There isn't another player like Reyes in baseball. A dynamic offensive player who plays shortstop at a gold glove level, Reyes is a once in a generation talent.

Letting Jose Reyes go makes zero sense baseball wise, for the following reasons:

1. Regarding the makeup of the team, Sandy Alderson has stated that the 2012 roster will most likely have a payroll around $110 million. The other top offensive players on the market (Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols) both play a position the Mets already have filled, and would both cost a great deal more than Jose Reyes. Like Reyes, there are also question marks surrounding both of them. Pujols has had tons of injury issues over the last few seasons, and Prince Fielder is massively overweight. With nearly $60 million coming off the books with the departures of Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez, Carlos Beltran, Francisco Rodriguez, and others, Jose Reyes easily slides into the team's plan. Re-signing Reyes would not preclude the team from improving in other areas, nor would it hamper them significantly down the line. Realize this: Jose Reyes made $11 million dollars in 2011. His raise if re-signed would likely be only 6 million to 7 million yearly.

2. As is the case with David Wright, the Mets have no one on the roster or in the minors who can replace Jose Reyes in the leadoff spot, or at shortstop. Ruben Tejada may yet prove to be an adequate offensive player and a solid defensive one, but he has yet to prove that over the course of a full season. Baseball-wise, it makes more sense for the Mets to pencil Tejada in as their second baseman, and potential utility infielder if Reese Havens can ever stay healthy.

The Potential of the Team

As was stated above, the 2011 Mets had their won/lost record skewed by a few trades that will likely strengthen the team in the long run. In my opinion, the 2011 Mets were a .500 baseball team. Now, can a .500 baseball team improve by 9 or 10 games in a single offseason? Sure. Is it likely? Perhaps not. I wouldn't be surprised if the 2012 Mets (with Reyes and Wright) contended for the Playoffs. More likely, though, they'll be ready to contend in 2013. The potential of the team contending in 2013, however, will be due in large part to having Reyes and Wright on the roster.

Aside from Jason Bay, the offensive core of the team is young. Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, Lucas Duda, Josh Thole, and Daniel Murphy are all under 27. Their two offensive prospects who may have an impact next year are Reese Havens and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, both in their mid 20's. The bullpen needs to be revamped, but should contain some promising arms in Manny Acosta, Pedro Beato, and Bobby Parnell.

The main area of concern is the starting rotation. That concern is due to the fact that the Mets lack a true Ace. However, in Jonathon Niese and RA Dickey, they have two middle of the rotation arms who should be able to contribute to an eventual contender. Dillon Gee is a question mark, but may be able to slide into the back of a contender's rotation. Until Johan Santana returns to the Major League mound, he's a non-entity. I'd never count him out, though.

The best hope for the Mets lies with the development of Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia, Jenrry Mejia, and Zack Wheeler. All four of those pitchers have Ace potential. It's highly unlikely all four reach that potential, but the rise of one or two of them could make the team an instant contender.

If the Mets let David Wright and/or Jose Reyes go, the offense would be weakened to a point where it would be nearly impossible for the Mets to contend. They're not going to sign Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder (nor should they), and they're most likely not going to gut their rising farm system for a major offensive piece. I believe the best move is to hold onto David Wright, and make a strong effort to re-sign Jose Reyes. A fair offer would be 5 years at 17 million or 18 million per, with a vesting 6th year option based on cumulative at-bats over the last 3 years of the contract. If a team comes out of nowhere to offer Reyes 7 or 8 years guaranteed, I'd understand if the Mets didn't match. I don't think that offer is out there, though.

We'll see how this plays out. What is almost certain, is that the Mets in 2012 and beyond would be substantially weaker without Jose Reyes and/or David Wright. They should be given the opportunity to attempt to finish what they started together, to play behind the pitchers who are rising through the system, and to once and for all prove themselves worthy of being called franchise players.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Appreciating Carlos Beltran

In early 2005, after Pedro Martinez had signed with the Mets, most doubted that Carlos Beltran would soon follow. He was a sweet swinging, switch hitting, 27 year old gold glove center fielder. The Mets and their fans wanted him badly. One night in January, while I was at a friends house keeping one eye on the Jets Playoff game (I'm a Giants fan), I followed the Beltran developments like a madman: He was going to Houston. Wait, now he's undecided. Now he's deciding between Houston and the Mets. Houston won't give him a full no-trade clause...Beltran is a Met.

The Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran signings were the two moves that pulled the Mets out of the abyss. Without conducting research, I can't conclusively say that most Mets fans didn't appreciate Carlos Beltran enough - but that's the feeling I always got. To many, he wasn't boisterous enough. Didn't say enough. Didn't do enough. To me, he did it all.

Beltran didn't have the greatest debut season in 2005, but what I remember from that year is Carlos hitting one high off the right field scoreboard at Shea. I remember the ridiculous home run robbing catch he made against the Angels at Shea - an inning before Marlon Anderson's inside the park home run tied the game in the 9th, two innings before Cliff Floyd hit one of the most memorable walk off home runs ever in the 10th. A home run that left me rolling around on the ground in celebration in front of my seats in Section 22, Row A of the Loge. I remember screaming in horror when Beltran and Mike Cameron smashed into each other in the outfield later that season. And I remember the team telling Carlos to take the rest of the year off, only for him to return and play the remainder of the year with broken bones in his face.

From 2006 to 2008, Carlos Beltran was incredible - eclipsing 112 RBI's each year. 2006 was the year of the walkoff for the Mets, and Beltran delivered the most memorable one in extra innings against the Phillies. In the NLCS, he won Game 1 with a home run, and led the team to a win in Game 4 with two more. Yet, all anyone wants to remember about that NLCS is the called strike 3 he took with the winning runs on base in the bottom of the 9th in Game 7. I was there. It was a crushing end to what could have been a magical year. But the Mets would've never made it to that game if Beltran hadn't almost single-handedly won two games in that series by himself. And the curveball he took for strike 3 was a nearly unhittable pitch. More glaring in that inning was Randolph not bunting with runners on 1st and 2nd and no one out. But everyone needs a scapegoat - and Carlos was it.

Both 2007 and 2008 ended painfully for the Mets - with the team getting eliminated from contention on the last day of each season at Shea. In 2008, though, Beltran gave the old place one last jolt with his game tying 2 run homer. As "Twist and Shout" blared, Beltran rounded the bases and disappeared into the dugout as I and everyone around me went berserk. I'll never forget that moment. Even in defeat, there are great memories that will never go away. Especially for those who were there that afternoon.

Carlos Beltran dealt with a multitude of injuries during the 2009 and 2010 campaigns, leading many fans to classify him as soft - a notion that was and always will be completely absurd. This year, he returned and showed what kind of player he can still be.

When all is said and done, Carlos Beltran will be remembered for being one of the best players the Mets have ever had - and perhaps one of the top two all around players in the history of the franchise. Carlos Beltran was a leader, usually by example. Once he got comfortable in New York, he would constantly take young or struggling players under his wing. He always played hard. Always played hurt. Always carried himself with dignity and class. Too often, people misconstrued his lack of emotion for lack of caring. The relaxed demeanor was just how Carlos was. He didn't often let his guard down. However, if you look at his face after some of the at bats where he delivered, the smile is there. The emotion is there. Carlos cared just as much, if not more, than the other 24 guys.

If today was Carlos Beltran's last home game as a Met, that's simply a damn shame for all of us who have grown to love and respect how he plays the game. I wish I could've been there. I wish we all could've filled the place and given him the rousing ovation he deserved. Those who were there did their best, but it wasn't enough. Hopefully, Carlos knows how much we appreciated him. If he comes back to Citi Field this year or next in a different uniform, I'm confident we'll give him the long-lasting ovation he's earned.

Thanks for everything, Carlos.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Reyes Injury Conundrum

Six days ago, Jose Reyes was removed from a game against the Yankees at Citi Field. After watching replays of his activity on the field during the game, it wasn't evident when or if he had actually hurt himself. Was Reyes simply being extra cautious in a contract year, not wanting to push himself on a hamstring that didn't feel perfect that day? After the Mets completed a thrilling comeback the next day, it was disclosed that Reyes had suffered a Grade 1 strain of his hamstring (the least severe grade, confirmed after an MRI), and that he would not be landing on the disabled list. Rather, he would fly to the West coast with the team in hopes of returning to the lineup mid-week.

Since then, what has happened has been a bit strange. On Monday and Tuesday, Reyes participated in limited activity. He walked on the treadmill, took grounders at short, and took batting practice from both sides of the plate. It appeared that he was progressing, and that his return to the lineup was a day or two away. On Tuesday, Reyes reported that his hamstring was feeling better and that he would attempt to run on Wednesday. Then, his agents stepped in. They requested for the MRI results to be reviewed by the doctor who performed Reyes' hamstring operation in 2009. Reyes' rehabilitation attempts were shut down - not by Reyes or the Mets, but because he had to wait for clearance from a doctor who was hand picked by his agents to review an already conclusive MRI.

To no one's shock, Reyes' agent's hand picked doctor recommended for Reyes to rest for a period of three weeks. The doctor didn't disagree with the initial diagnosis (Grade 1 strain), and didn't report that there was anything else wrong with Reyes. Instead of jumping all over what appears to be a clear move by Reyes' agents to err on the side of caution in a contract year, the beat writers (as expected) chalked this up as another "Met injury disaster" - which makes zero sense.

Let's review the events again:

-Reyes felt discomfort in his hamstring, and was immediately removed from the game on July 2nd.

-Reyes had an MRI on July 3rd, which revealed a Grade 1 hamstring strain.

-Reyes participated in light baseball activity on July 4th and July 5th, in hopes of returning to the lineup. Reyes himself stated that his hamstring was getting better, and that he would attempt to run on July 6th.

-On July 6th, Reyes' agents requested a review of the MRI and Reyes was shut down while he waited for the results.

-On July 7th, the doctor who reviewed the MRI (as requested by Reyes' agents), recommended for Jose Reyes to rest for a period of three weeks - while at the same time not disputing the initial diagnosis.

...Again, it's quite clear to me that Jose Reyes' agents stepped in to make sure that their prized client would take more time off than needed in an attempt to be extra cautious in a contract year. Nothing the Mets did raised any eyebrows prior to Reyes being shut down on July 7th.

Now, will this ploy by Reyes' agents come back to bite them (and Reyes) in the end? According to most who are familiar with Grade 1 hamstring strains, they heal in a matter of days - not weeks...which jives with the fact that Reyes came on the road with the Mets in an attempt to get back into the lineup quickly. Since Reyes' agents have stepped in, they have guaranteed that Reyes will miss no less than three full weeks (if Reyes returns the day he is eligible to come off the disabled list, which is doubtful). More likely, Reyes will miss around a month with an injury most believed would force him out of action for only a few days.

On the surface, it may seem that Reyes' agents are being prudent here. If Reyes returned too quickly and aggravated the injury, who knows how much time he'd have missed. However, by requesting a second opinion that forced Reyes out of action and onto the disabled list, his agents have now re-opened the conversation about how brittle Jose Reyes actually is (something that is overblown, but nonetheless out there). They've placed doubt in the minds of those who may potentially bid for Reyes' services after the season, most likely lessening the amount of guaranteed years and dollars Reyes will be able to earn from his next contract. And that scenario benefits the Mets, who badly want to re-sign him.

In the short-term, being without Jose Reyes is a huge blow for the Mets - who last night entered a stretch where they'll face seven All-Star starting pitchers in a row, before facing the Cardinals. Reyes will miss all of those games, making the task of hanging in the Wild Card race much tougher on the team. However, if you asked Sandy Alderson if he'd exchange a month of Reyes' services in 2011 in order to secure his services after the season for less years and dollars, I bet he would have happily signed up for it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What Can We Do?

At this point, there's no need to recap Fred Wilpon's quotes that appeared in the recent issues of the New Yorker and Sports Illustrated. All Mets fans and most casual baseball fans are well aware of what was said. The question most have , is how do we interpret these quotes? After being completely sane all of his life, has Fred Wilpon gone mad? The comments he made to Jeffrey Toobin were cleared by Wilpon to appear in the article, so he certainly wanted people to read them. Ditto for the quotes in Sports Illustrated about the team's financial issues.

So, what's the deal here? Some think that Fred simply let loose during a casual conversation while watching a game. Others think he planted the quotes to attract attention to a positive story about the Bernard Madoff situation, and some people believe he made the quotes in order to set the stage for drastic player moves - to gauge the fanbase's reaction of his critique's of the team's cornerstone players before acting.

At this point, I don't give a damn why the quotes were made. I don't believe they were as salacious as they're being made out to be. I don't think Wilpon actually "ripped" his players, as the beat writers would have you believe. But I do think airing his grievances in public at this point in time was a huge mistake. A mistake that has taken the focus off the baseball field (where the Mets have one of the best records in the National League over the past month), and placed it firmly on the front office and the coming reaction from the clubhouse. Instead of reading about a team that's persevering and playing hard, we're reading about how quickly that team is about to be torn apart by trades.

If trades (most specifically the trade of Jose Reyes) are on the horizon, what can the fanbase do to prevent them? We certainly can't sit in on meetings with the Wilpon's and the front office and offer our advice. We can't reach out to Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran and David Wright, and let them know how much we value them as members of the team. And we can't call up the other 29 teams in baseball and order them to not trade for Jose Reyes and/or the other players we want to stay.

So, what can we do?


Mets fans who have partial ticket plans (I've had one for 11 years) and full season plans need to band together. This isn't meant to be a slight on fans who support the team in other ways (or from afar), but the only thing that can get the attention of ownership is the thought of more money slipping out of their hands. And money is exactly what ticket holders represent and provide. I'd imagine most of us want the team to keep Jose Reyes. I don't care what the reason would be for letting Jose Reyes go. People can speculate until their heads fall off, it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that Reyes stays. What do we do?

At every game we attend, we each bring a sign. That sign should be as follows:

Account Number: 469***
Years I've had my ticket plan: 11
Amount of seats in my plan: 4
If Jose Reyes goes, my money goes with him.

...the sign is simple and to the point.

The next game I attend will be May 31st against Pittsburgh. I'll have that exact sign with me.

No one knows whether or not ownership will give a damn if we all show up with those signs. No one knows if it will change the way they're thinking. What I do know is this: There's no way in hell we can sit idly by and allow the team to get rid of Jose Reyes. We need to make our voices heard, and make ownership realize what the consequences will be if they deal Jose Reyes.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

How Satisfying Would It Be?

The following is not going to be a post that discusses the Mets' chances of reaching the 2011 Postseason, and it's certainly not going to be a post that claims the Mets are likely to reach the 2011 Postseason. Rather, it will be a post that asks what if?

The Mets are 21-22, a robust 16-9 since their awful start. They sit 4 games out of the Wild Card (behind Florida). That awful start seemed like a bit of an anomaly then - the starting pitching and the bullpen alternated between being terrible, resulting in the majority of those losses. Since the pitching has come around, so has the team (despite the short term losses of both Ike Davis and David Wright).

As I stated above, I don't expect the Mets to make the Playoffs in 2011. I expect (as I've stated since Spring Training) for the team to win somewhere between 84 and 88 games, which would likely leave them a few games short. However, what if?

Back in 2006, the Mets waltzed through the regular season. Making the Playoffs was never in question, the only question was how far they would go once they got in. Most people conveniently forget that the 2006 squad was dealt two major blows right before the NLDS against Los Angeles began (losing Orlando Hernandez and Pedro Martinez for the year), after losing Duaner Sanchez in late July. They entered the Playoffs undermanned, and bowed out in 7 games to a flawed Cardinals team that won 83 games during the regular season. There's no doubt in my mind that a full strength 2006 Mets team makes the World Series, and likely wins it. But they weren't full strength, and they didn't make it.

I remember the feeling of jubilation I had at Shea when the Mets clinched the Division, the elation and explosion that I felt when they clinched a trip to the NLCS after closing out the Dodgers. And I remember standing in Shea, as if I was experiencing some kind of out of body experience, half expecting the Upper Deck to collapse after Endy's catch. It was an incredible feeling each time, but not one that was borne out of surprise.

Since 2006, everyone knows what's befallen this team. The actual collapse of 2007, the Wagner-less collapse of 2008, the injury riddled misery that was 2009, and the mediocre year that was 2010. Fairly or not, the Mets have been made out to be a laughingstock, even though they're not one. They've been spat upon, disrespected, and snickered at. Before the 2011 season, they were left for dead by the local and national media. After they started 5-13, some in the media wondered if they'd lose 100 games.

I'm sure if the 2006 Mets made it to the World Series, I would've gone absolutely insane - along with the rest of the fans who've been waiting for this for a hell of a long time. Seeing them in the Playoffs in 2007 and/or 2008 would've been great. But to make the Playoffs this year? After being disrespected by everyone, after getting asked by strangers why you're wearing a Mets hat, after dealing with pompous Yankee fans who have basically the same record as the Mets with a Payroll that's $80 million dollars higher? That'd be a feeling that would have to be experienced to realize the potential magnitude of it.

Again, this is not about expectations. It's not about making a crazy boast regarding a 21-22 team. It's simply about imagining it. If nothing else, a Playoff run by the 2011 Mets would ensure that Jose Reyes remains a Met through the end of the season - and likely re-signs. It would take the focus off the ridiculously overblown Madoff issue. It would allow us to enjoy Carlos Beltran for at least a few more months. It would shut up every local and national writer who can't wait to type that next article bashing the Mets, no matter how absurd or out of line that article is. Think about it: We've seen articles this year claiming that Jose Reyes was to blame for being incorrectly called out at 3rd base because he slid. That's how absurd the coverage of this team has become.

Imagine the 2011 Mets clinching a Playoff spot at Citi Field on September 28th against the Reds, or any day before that. Think about how sweet it would be, how satisfying it would be, to see this team go absolutely berserk on the field after the way the last 4 years have played out. After the way they were talked about before the 2011 season began. In order for that to be a possibility, they'll have to get Ike Davis and David Wright back when they're supposed to (about a week and change from now). If those two are out long-term, regardless of how gritty the fill-ins have played, the team is probably screwed. But Davis and Wright should be back soon.

Ever since the Mets moved from Shea Stadium to Citi Field, there hasn't been one single game where the crowd energy was even close to how it was at Shea. Maybe it's because the fans are constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, maybe it's the acoustics of the new place, perhaps it's the fact that so many fans are always walking around and not paying attention to the game - or some combination of all three. I can guarantee one thing, though. If the first Playoff game at Citi Field is this season - whether it's Game 1 or Game 3 - the Shea noise will be there. The electricity will be there.

The fans who stuck with this team after pretty much everyone was telling them they were crazy for doing so will be in those seats. Personally, the Mets making the Playoffs in 2011 would be more satisfying than a 2006 World Championship would've been. Simply because of what the team and the fans have been through, and what rising up and making it all the way back this season would mean to them and us. I yearn for a cool September afteroon or night where David and Jose once again puff away on their victory cigars, while dumping champagne on each-other and the fans. It's why I keep watching, why I keep going. I know the team has it in them. Just imagine what it would feel like if they made it happen.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I Reject Your Hypothesis

It's been all over the place the last few days. It's been on blogs, on ESPN, and on Twitter. It's even been uttered by Gary Cohen in the SNY booth: What are the Mets going to do with Jose Reyes? If they decide to trade him, when will they pull the trigger? Who are his suitors? What can they get in return? It's becoming exceedingly difficult to ignore the avalanche of speculation that's been thrown around recently regarding Jose Reyes. It's beginning to anger most Mets fans, who know from watching him play over the last 9 seasons that Jose Reyes should go absolutely nowhere. So, what is there to do?

You can believe that Sandy Alderson - he of the Ivy league education and decades of experience as an executive in Major League Baseball, is a moron. Then you can go ahead and believe that everyone who's advising Sandy Alderson is also a complete moron. After convincing yourself of those two things, you'll have to convince yourself that the owners of the Mets have no interest in drawing fans, selling merchandise, or generating revenue in any other way. No, they'd rather go bankrupt. You'll have to believe that Fred and Jeff Wilpon and whoever the minority ownership consists of are willing to watch the New York Mets franchise spiral into oblivion. The above isn't believable, is it? Well, it would take an army of morons and owners with no interest in making money to let Jose Reyes leave the Mets. The prior sentence is why I believe this is all media speculation, and why I reject their hypothesis.

Take the following into account:

-Jose Reyes is 27 years old. He is one of the most dynamic offensive players in baseball (currently on pace to hit .313 with a .363 OBP with 100 runs scored, 219 Hits, 52 Doubles, 16 Triples, and 57 Stolen Bases). As if that isn't enough, he plays a prime position (Shortstop) at a Gold Glove level. That's the strictly on field stuff. Contrary to what people like to say, this is not an "all legs" player who will deteriorate as soon as he begins to lose a bit of his speed. This is a once in a generation talent, not Tony Womack.

-Along with David Wright, Jose Reyes is the face of the Mets. He is the one player fans come to the ballpark always excited to see (sans a healthy Johan Santana). The team markets itself around Reyes and Wright. In the face of the Madoff situation (even with how unfairly the Media have smeared the Wilpon's), sagging attendance, and the poor on field performance of 2009 and 2010, letting Jose Reyes go would be ridiculous. It would be even more ridiculous for the Mets to let him go during or after the 2011 season cosidering....

-The Mets have at least $40 million dollars coming off the books after this season (close to $60 million if Francisco Rodriguez's option doesn't vest). If there was any offseason where the Mets have payroll flexibility, it's the upcoming one. With all of that money coming off the books, and the new minority ownership scheduled to be finalized in the next few weeks, it's clear that the Mets can afford to pay Jose Reyes. Big market teams do not let franchise players in their prime (who also happen to be the face of that respective franchise) walk out the door (nor do they trade them). I invite anyone to find one example of a healthy player 28 or younger with the stature of Reyes who was discarded by his large market team.

...To recap, there is no reason to even begin to consider trading Jose Reyes. There is no reason to let him leave via Free Agency. That conclusion can be reached by simply looking at his stats. When you combine those stats with the impact he has in the clubhouse, and the fan mutiny that would be caused if the Mets let him go, it becomes unfathomable that the Mets could be that shortsighted.


I'll again state that I reject the media's hypothesis. The Mets don't have to trade Jose Reyes, the Mets don't want to trade Jose Reyes, and the Mets won't trade Jose Reyes. They'll re-sign him, because it makes no sense not to.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Yes, This Does Indeed Suck

So far this season, the Mets are making me and any other fan/blogger/writer who had confidence in the team look like fools. That much is not debatable. Yes, it's only been 17 games. And a determination regarding the ultimate fate of the 2011 Mets (or any other team) can not be made after 17 games. However, if any team in the Majors needed a fast start, it was the Mets. How they've performed so far has not only been bad - their play at times has bordered on unwatchable. So, what should be done?

For one, it's important to note that negativity for the sake of being negative helps no one. If the fans show up at the ballpark every night and boo anything and everything, it won't help. Boo a lack of effort (of which there's been some), but nothing else. It puts the players on their heels. It undoubtedly makes them feel like garbage.

Would I be stunned if the Mets continued falling downward and spiraled into oblivion? No. Would I be stunned if the Mets won 7 games in a row? No.

The main problem with the Mets' 5-12 start is that it's the only sample size we have. If they had a stretch like this after beginning the year 26-21, people would be upset. They'd be disgusted. But they wouldn't be calling for an immediate firesale. Doing that after such a tiny sample size (no matter how brutal it's been) is foolish. The Mets aren't this bad. I think that's pretty apparent. So, what ails this team? What can be done immediately to alleviate some of the issues? Here are a few suggestions:

-Release Chin Lung Hu: Most fans have been saying this since day one. Hu has absolutely no value to the team. He's strictly a defensive replacement, who is not being used as a defensive replacement. His main value is as a shortstop, and the Mets have a shortstop who plays every inning of every game. Hu is completely overmatched at the plate, which has led some to pronounce that they'd rather pinch hit with RA Dickey. Hu needs to go. Now. Cut him and call up Nick Evans.

-Increase Pedro Beato's responsibility: Terry Collins intimated today that Jason Isringhausen is the team's 8th inning man, which is fine. However, the bridge to Izzy and Frankie must go through Beato. He's been the best arm in the pen so far, and has fantastic stuff. There's no need to baby him.

-Argue when horrendous calls go against you: This is for Terry Collins...the worst possible thing for the fans to get a sense of is apathy. And that's exactly what they sensed last night after a series of terrible calls against Josh Thole and an almost impossibly bad call at 2nd base doomed the Mets. It was the perfect time for Collins to get himself run, to maybe light a fire. At the very least, getting tossed there would've given the umps some pause...maybe they'd be a little less apt to screw the Mets. Just maybe. Next time that happens, I expect an explosion.

-Disprove the notion that the team is soft: Ever since 2006, there's been a belief that the team is soft. That they quit when they're down, don't go above and beyond, don't pitch inside, don't fight back when someone (an ump, an opposing player), bullies their team. That has to change. Winning solves everything. However, while this team is learning how to win, it's important to show that they have a chip on their shoulder. As Billy Joel says at the end of each of his concerts, "Don't take no shit off nobody." For the longest time, this team has not only taken it, they've fallen down and rolled around in it. That has to stop.

I'm confident that the Mets will turn this around. That they actually have talent. That there's absolutely no way they can continue to underperform to the level they have so far this season. If they improve, and do the four things listed above, the clouds will start to part. There will still be storms every now and then, but the daily sense of dread will go away. Their mission starts tonight, at home, against a brutal Houston team. Destroy them, please.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Mets Are Coming Home

In less than 24 hours, the Mets will take the field at home for the first time in 2011. Is it somewhat disappointing that the Mets will arrive home at 3-3 after starting 3-1. Yes. If I could've signed up for 3-3 after the first 6 games on the road (knowing that Josh Johnson and Roy Halladay were pitching two of the three), would I have? Yes. Can we base anything definitive off of the first six games of the season? No. Therefore, I'm not going to try. The Mets hit the ball well at times, not so well the rest of the time. They pitched brilliantly at times, not so brilliantly the rest of the time.

What I do know is this: Tomorrow around Noon, Mets fans will start trickling into the parking lots at Citi Field. I plan on leaving Brooklyn a bit after 12:30, so I should be there shortly after that. Mets fans will enter the lots with cars full of food, beer, and hope. Hope that the 2011 season may turn out to be special. No matter what happened in the seasons prior, or what the new season eventually turns into, there's always Opening Day at your ballpark.

During the offseason, it's common to pass the ballpark a few times on the highway, craning your neck as it disappears from view. It may be a brisk November day, a March day with snow still on the ground, or sometime in-between. Whenever you pass it, it's natural to wish that it was Opening Day, and not some Fall or Winter day that's completely devoid of baseball. Well, tomorrow is Opening Day. If you're one of the people who's lucky enough to be heading out to Citi Field tomorrow, remember that. Remember all the days from October through March where we would've given anything for there to be a Mets game to go to. Or a Mets game to watch. Or a Mets game to listen to.

As the parking lot morphs from empty concrete to a mass of fans dressed in orange and blue, and begins to smell like an enormous barbecue...as the smoke from the grills and the hops from the beers enters your nostrils, remember how you felt from October through March. Then remind yourself that it's April 8th, and the Mets are about to take the field at home for the first time this season. For those of you who will be partaking in the consumption of alcohol in the lots, remember to use Solo brand cups to conceal your drink - unless you want a ticket from an overzealous cop.

The pageantry will be on full display tomorrow at Citi Field, from the pre-game introductions to the unfurling of the giant American flag. The stands should be filled, and the fans should be loud. Tomorrow is not a time to attempt to draw conclusions off a 3-3 start, nor is it a time to dwell on 2009 or 2010 - or 2007 if you're still hung up on that. It's a time to simply enjoy the Mets. And revel in the fact that what you waited for all Winter is finally here. Baseball is back, and the Mets are home.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mike Francesa Isn't a King - or the Pope

Since a definitive answer regarding the outcome of the Mets' 2011 season can't be gleaned from a three game sample, I was wrestling with exactly what I would write about today. At around 2 PM, Mike Francesa made my mind up for me. Mike Francesa isn't a King or a Pope (though he would lead most to believe he held one of those Title's with the way he talks down to people). No, Mike is not one of those things, nor can he tell the future. However, after three games and a 2-1 record, Mike Francesa has proclaimed the following about the 2011 Mets:

"The Mets aren't even a good team."

If the above information is accurate, the Yankees (at 2-1) aren't a good team either. Nor are the 0-3 Red Sox, the 0-3 Brewers, etc. What defines "a good team" after three games? Three wins? Three shutouts? I'm confused. But Mike continues spewing brilliance:

"Nobody in the World thinks the Mets are good, but that's OK."

Ah, so Mike has cleared it up for us! It's not that the Mets aren't actually "a good team," it's that "nobody in the World thinks" they're a good team. Cool. I know Mike takes up a significant portion of the gravity and air supply with the space he fills and the hot air he blows, but I don't think there's any way that statement can be taken as definitive. I think the 2011 Mets can be a very good team (again, can't make concrete judgments based on three games), but pushing that aside for a moment, aren't they at least a better team than the 2010 version? Mike?

"Are the Mets a better team than last year? No."

I see. The 2010 Mets, who sent out an Opening Day lineup that included Alex Cora, Luis Castillo, Mike Jacobs, Jeff Francoeur, Gary Matthews, Jr., and Rod Barajas, that had two rotation members who are currently not in the Majors (Oliver Perez and John Maine), were an equal or better squad than the 2011 Mets are or will be. Thanks for clearing that up, Mike. Makes total sense. Any more pearls of wisdom for us today?

"Well Mets fans, you'll always have Florida."

In a way, that's true. Mike was basically trying to tell all Mets fans that winning the Season opening series in Florida will be the high point of the season. What I take from the claim that "we'll always have Florida" is the following: Mets fans are a loyal bunch, as evidenced by the fact that their fans drowned out the fans of the Marlins in their own ballpark - nearly 2,000 miles from New York. It reminded me that we've done the same in Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, and San Diego (to name a few). It reminded me of why exactly the majority of Mets fans despise the Yankees. It's imbeciles and Yankee fans like Francesa, who think Championship's are owed to their team. Who bash the Mets even when there's nothing to bash. Who snicker under their breath at the supposed genius of their words - even though they sound like fools. Mike Francesa isn't actually a moron, but he also has his head placed firmly up his ass regarding his current opinion of the 2011 Mets.

If I could've gotten through to Francesa this afternoon, I simply would've discussed facts - by discussing The 2010 Mets' Opening Day lineup, bullpen, and rotation, and putting them up against the 2011 version. And if Francesa had the guts to answer honestly as to which team had better personnel, and a better chance to win, he would've looked like a fool. I emplore anyone who has the patience to attempt to reach him to use that strategy. If nothing else, It'll take up a bit of the time between now and the first pitch in Philly tomorrow night.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Shredded Season Preview

I just read the 2011 Sports Illustrated Baseball Preview issue. After I soaked up their predictions (that had the Mets in last place at 74-88), and read their idiotic words regarding the Mets, I decided to rip it to shreds - literally (see picture above). I was going to immediately light it on fire, but decided it would be more fun - and more symbolic - if I brought it with me to Opening Day at Citi Field next Friday and set it aflame in the parking lot. Their piece on the Mets didn't offer any insight and didn't incite my anger, it was the quote from the "rival scout" that they attached to it that set me off. Observe this gem:

Their motto should be Trade Anybody - no one on the roster should be off limits. The system is thin at the minor league level. I don't see an impact player there, and they have to do something to change the climate. If they're smart, they would blow up the club and start over.

I'm at the point where I'm about to swear off all print journalism entirely. It's gotten that bad. There was an Editor at Sports Illustrated that signed off on this appearing in his or her magazine. And if this type of illogical, thoughtless nonsense is going to be printed, I refuse to read it. This "rival scout" obviously has zero knowledge of the farm system since Jenrry Mejia, Wilmer Flores, Cesar Puello, Reese Havens, and Matt Harvey are all potential "impact" players, of whom he claims the Mets have none. He calls the farm system "thin," without noting that Jonathon Niese, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Bobby Parnell, and Josh Thole were recently produced by that system. He says they'd be "smart" to "blow up the club and start over" by immediately dealing anyone on the roster.

If the Mets are out of contention at the All Star break, dealing Beltran makes sense (if he's healthy). Still, how much can be gotten for a perennial injury risk in the last year of his contract? Beyond that, who would it make sense to hastily trade? Johan Santana is not tradeable, neither is Francisco Rodriguez or Jason Bay. Aside from them, the majority of the "older" players are on 1 year deals - Scott Hairston, Chris Young, Chris Capuano, Tim Byrdak, etc. Should they trade RA Dickey? What would he bring back anyway? The rest of the players are in their 20's with varying degrees of upside, and other than the face of the franchise, cost next to nothing.

Should they trade Josh Thole? Ike Davis? Brad Emaus? David Wright? Angel Pagan? Mike Pelfrey? Jon Niese? Bobby Parnell? Pedro Beato? Daniel Murphy? Blaine Boyer? Jenrry Mejia? Matt Harvey? Wilmer Flores? I don't get it - and this scout isn't the only person who thinks the Mets should blindly "blow up" the roster, apparently not taking into account that the majority of the players who are signed beyond next year are both in their 20's and inexpensive. The only long term/high priced players are Jason Bay and Johan Santana. No one is taking those contracts. The other older players are either 1 year deals, moderately priced, or both. The rest are the names listed above. I simply can't fathom how it would make sense to deal productive Major Leaguers in their 20's for unprovens to "change the climate." The change that was needed (releasing Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez)has been taken care of.

The Mets won 70 games in 2009, and 79 in 2010. The offense projects to be much better in 2011, as does the bullpen. The rotation as a whole is deeper than it was entering 2010. There's new Management in the dugout and in the front office. Why would this team (barring catastrophic injuries) regress to the point of winning 74 games? It makes no sense whatsoever.

If the "experts" want to say that the Mets will win somewhere around 80 or 82 games, that's more than fair. They, like every other team in Baseball, have question marks. However, the constant doom and gloom articles that are getting churned out are so alike and so ridiculous that it seems as if the baseball writers of America have colluded for the sole purpose of hitting a franchise while it's down. I know that's an absurd thought, but that's what it feels like.

The other notion present in these doom and gloom pieces is the belief that the cloud of the silver haired swindler, Bernard Madoff, will haunt the Mets and make it impossible for them to lift their bats or close their gloves. The horror! Going hand in hand with the severe underrating of the Mets' on field personnel is this moronic belief that the players on the field give a damn about the Bernard Madoff issue. Yes, some of the players who are close with the Wilpon's will care (such as David Wright), but why would it have any impact on their on-field performance?

Let's put this out there for all to decide: If the Owners of your company were in some type of financial distress, but your job wasn't in danger, your title wasn't about to be changed, your salary wasn't being impacted, what you do on a daily basis was staying exactly the same, the location of your workplace wasn't changing, and the long-term prospects of your company were the same as when you were hired (regardless of if new Owners came in), would you care? Of course you wouldn't care. This is something the writers aren't able to grasp for some reason. The Madoff situation is a Public Relations nightmare, but the players don't care. The on field personnel is vastly improved, but the writers don't seem like they want to give the team any credit for putting a solid roster together. A positive or even fair story affects the hits their articles will receive, and the amount of attention they'll get on twitter.

If the Mets do what many fans think they can do, the writers will have no choice but to churn out positive and/or fair pieces. In the meantime, feel free to join me at Citi Field on Opening Day as I set the Sports Illustrated preview issue on fire, and watch it and the "experts'" opinions disappear as the 2011 Season gets underway.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The 2010 Mets and the 2011 Mets: Not the Same

Before I get into the meat of this post, I'd like everyone to take 10 seconds and try to remember who was in the Mets' Opening Day lineup last year. Now, please see below for the answer:

  1. Alex Cora SS

  2. Luis Castillo 2B

  3. David Wright 3B

  4. Mike Jacobs 1B

  5. Jason Bay LF

  6. Gary Matthews Jr CF

  7. Jeff Francoeur RF

  8. Rod Barajas C

Take a few moments to wipe the vomit from your mouth. Now realize this: The Las Vegas over/under win total for the 2010 Mets - the one that trotted out that deformity of an Opening Day lineup, was 81. EIGHTY ONE. The Las Vegas over/under win total for the 2011 Mets - the one that will trot out an Opening Day lineup that includes Jose Reyes, Brad Emaus, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Ike Davis, Angel Pagan, Josh Thole, and potentially Jason Bay - who should be back sooner than later if he does miss any time? That over/under is 74.5...In the words of Lloyd Christmas when he thought that Mary Swanson's last name was actually Samsonite, something seems "way off."

There are those out there (fans, bloggers, media) who do believe the 2011 Mets will be improved and may surprise. But the majority is of the belief that they won't even compete. That they'll finish dead last. Below the Nationals. The Nationals, whose Opening Day starter is Livan Hernandez. While everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, it seems to me that the Mets are being treated quite unfairly. That the media has found what they believe to be a punching bag, a team that has shots taken at it nearly every day. Frank Robinson came out of nowhere today to say that the 2011 Mets are in worse shape than the 2002 Montreal Expos - The team that was about to be contracted, and was eventually moved to Washington, DC. I'm not even going to get into a debate regarding that, because Robinson's idiotic assertion doesn't merit one. Sports Illustrated has picked the Mets to finish last, with 74 wins. Adam Rubin, by far the most respected beat writer out there, has lowered his expected 2011 Mets win total to 76.

What have the Mets done between 2010 and 2011 to result in the expectations being this low, to cause my UPS delivery man to ask me quizically "really bro, the Mets" when he delivered my ticket package? Their expected 2010 win total was 81, and they won 79 games. Not far off. Then, this happened: They fired their incompetent Manager and replaced him with someone who has a reputation for being way above average tactically, and who has a reputation for having so called "fire." They did not go the Bob Melvin milquetoast route. They fired their maligned General Manager, and replaced him with one of the most well respected men in Major League Baseball. They released the two players who were dreadful on the field, and hurt the team from a PR standpoint off the field. They didn't make any bad trades or bad signings. The Bernard Madoff situation is out there, but I simply don't think the players give a damn. And I certainly don't think it will negatively impact performance. It almost seems as though the columnists and prognosticators want it to, just so they can smile at the end of the year in the event that their predictions come true.

The Mets enter the 2011 season with a lineup that should be vastly superior than the 2010 edition, a bullpen that has been rebuilt with mainly high upside arms, and a rotation that is stronger top to bottom than the one that opened the 2010 campaign. Yes, Johan Santana not being available until June at the earliest is a blow. However, the rotation for 2011 projects to be Mike Pelfrey, RA Dickey, Jon Niese, Chris Young, and Chris Capuano. There are concerns, no doubt. But that rotation from top to bottom is better than the one that opened the 2010 season - Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, Oliver Perez, and Jon Niese (then an unproven rookie). In addition, the Mets have much better insurance at AAA in the form of Dillon Gee, Boof Bonser, and Jenrry Mejia.

No one knows what 2011 will bring, but it's clear to me (and most Mets fans who aren't blinded by negativity), that the team is headed in the right direction - not backwards, as so many are predicting. For those of you who want to question why I'm a Mets fan, save it. The better question is why aren't you? I've lived in New York City since I was born, and from what I've seen and the people I've encountered, Mets fans are a whole different breed. We don't give up, we don't waver, we don't lower our passion level because someone asks us to. Root for your team, and I'll do the same. We'll see how everything shakes out come October.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Forget the Negativity

With the spike in popularity of blogs over the last few years, it should be easy for most serious Mets fans to ignore the uninformed spittle that drips from the mouth's (or fingertips) of a majority of the so called "experts" in our midst. Whether the negativity is planted in our daily papers, voiced on SNY, or tweeted (two of the most obnoxious offenders are Dave Lennon and Steve Popper), the presence of it makes something clear: The majority of the level-headed (and most informed) commentary comes from our own - fellow fans. However, when blind negativity is voiced by one of our own - and is given play on Metsblog, it's especially grating.

Today, 8 days from Opening Day, the following quote appeared in a piece by David Daniels from Metsreport.com:

Let’s see… Johan Santana may be out for the year, Carlos Beltran is one slide away form blowing out both knees, Jose Reyes is one hard run from blowing out a
hammy, and Krod is one fight away from prison. We have a rookie catcher, two pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery, Mike Pelfrey’s Psychiatrist passed
away so the yips may be back, the franchise 3rd baseman has yet to step up and be a leader, an ongoing hole at 2nd base and the team can’t/won’t be spending any money anytime soon. Did I miss something?

As seen above, anyone can find negative spin if they're searching for it. However, the foolishness displayed above is absurd. The writer argues that Jose Reyes is "one hard run from blowing out a hammy." Who isn't? He intimates that Francisco Rodriguez may go to jail if he assaults someone. Who wouldn't? He makes a baseless accusation about David Wright, somehow turns Luis Castillo being released (and second base being taken over by someone with actual upside) into a negative, and asserts what the financial situation will be as if he's Sandy Alderson. In the rest of the piece, the writer attempts to speak of the Madoff situation as if he's an authority on the subject - and can tell the future. He isn't, and he can't.

Anyway, the point here isn't that David Daniels from Metsreport.com is ridiculously negative about the 2011 campaign. The point is that his claim - that the Mets have no shot at making the Playoffs - seems to be the belief of far too many (both media and fans). Why is that? It certainly can't be the projected 25 man roster. Even those who rarely allow an optimistic thought to cross their mind have to allow for the possibility that a team that won 79 games last year could scrape some more wins together and have a win total in the mid or high 80's. And if that happened, they'd be contenders.

While I'm confident that my evaluation of the team is level-headed, and most die-hard fans have the ability to ignore the sky-is-falling mentality, it's clear that the coverage of the team is negatively affecting a large portion of the fanbase. Negativity sells. It's what draws listeners to Mike Francesa's show. It's shocking to me that a team that averaged 90 wins per year from 2005-2008 (before succumbing to injuries in 2009 and having a sub-par year in 2010), is now being treated as if it's the Pittsburgh Pirates or Kansas City Royals. And it's worrisome that one of the main things that can help bring financial stability to the franchise - the potential of fans in the seats - is being sabotaged before the season begins.

Allow me to re-write the paragraph from David Daniels from the point of view of a realist. Not an optimist, but a realist:

Let’s see… Johan Santana is out until late June at the earliest. His rehab is moving along, though. If Santana comes back this season, it'd be great. If not, one could argue that the added offense, more stable bullpen, and a Manager who actually knows how to Manage may offset the absence of Santana. Carlos Beltran's knees are still giving him trouble, and he's unlikely to ever be the MVP caliber player he was in 2006. Fortunately,Sandy Alderson has prepared for the likelihood that Beltran will miss time in 2011 by filling in the roster appropriately. Jose Reyes, like every other human being on Earth, is one hard run from blowing a hammy. Let's hope he doesn't. K-Rod is one fight away from prison, as are most people who are forced to obey laws. We have a rookie catcher with tons of promise who has focused on improving his defense, two pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery who aren't being counted on to anchor the rotation and who have adequate replacements waiting in the minors should they re-injure themselves. Mike Pelfrey’s Psychiatrist passed away, which is terrible. Prayers go out to the man's family. The franchise's 3rd baseman has been a leader by example, an ongoing hole at 2nd base was filled when the team cut Luis Castillo and replaced him with someone who actually has upside,and Sandy Alderson noted today that the money to add a piece at the deadline would be there should the Mets be in contention. Did I miss something?

How easy was that? And that's just being realistic.

I'm not asking the Media and the fans who take them at face value to make everything sound optimistic. And I'm not asking them to stop printing pieces that are designed to catch eyeballs. What I'm asking is for them to once in a while, simply cover the team. Report the facts. One of the Mets' beat guys does this, the rest not so much. It's turned into a vicious cycle. The media spews negativity, often reporting things incorrectly. The fans react to it by venting on SNY and WFAN and Twitter. And by blogging about it. The writers then cite the venting they themselves caused as one of the reasons the team is in so called "disarray."

The team isn't in disarray. The season hasn't even started.

Until the media considers fair coverage, the Mets will simply have to be the Jake Taylor to their Rachel Phelps.

Get at it, boys.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Legs of The Franchise

He first flashed before our eyes as a Met in Texas in June of 2003, at just 19 years old. His arrival was the result of an injury that was sustained by Rey "the barber" Sanchez. In that first game, Reyes had two hits and displayed the promise that would soon mold him into one of the better all around players in baseball.

In the years that followed, Reyes overcame a rash of lower body injuries, and eventually became the main attraction at Shea Stadium. "Come on out to Shea and see Jose Reyes run," was bellowed on a nightly basis by the eternally over-exuberant but harmless Fran Healy. And the fans listened. They came on out to Shea. Jose Reyes stole bases at will. He turned routine groundouts into singles. Singles into doubles. Doubles into triples. He struck fear into the opposing pitcher every time he reached base. He displayed a cannon for an arm at shortstop, eventually harnessing his boundless energy and turning into one of the better defensive shortstops in baseball.

Jose Reyes rose with the Mets (or was it the other way around) from the wreckage that was 2002-2004, and was a key member of the team that averaged 90 wins a season from 2005 to 2008. We all know what has happened since then. The injury riddled campaign (for Reyes and everyone else) in 2009, and last year's 79-83 finish.

2011 is viewed by some as a transition year, and others as a year where the Mets may contend. However, it's being overshadowed by the Bernard Madoff situation and the uncertainty about Jose Reyes' future. Entering the last year of his contract, the debate rages over Reyes. Will he price himself out of the Mets' range? Is he worth what he'll be asking? Is he Sandy Alderson's "type of player?" Should the Mets trade him mid-season? Will he stay healthy?

To me, the only question that matters is the last one - Will Jose Reyes stay healthy. If he does, this is what he averages over a 162 game season:

.286 Average
33 Doubles
15 Triples
13 Home Runs
196 Hits
111 Runs
58 Stolen Bases

...That's Jose Reyes' average season. If he isn't Alderson's "type of player," then Alderson isn't my type of General Manager. Players who put up numbers like that are extraordinarily rare. When you add those numbers to the fact that Jose Reyes plays a premium position at a Gold Glove level, he becomes that much more indispensable. And when you attach all of his on field value to the fact that he's a homegrown Met - a fan favorite whose destiny is to team up with David Wright to shatter every one of the Mets' offensive records and lead this team to a Championship - letting Reyes go (via trade or free agency) becomes reckless. It borders on idiotic. Letting a healthy Jose Reyes go would be an enormous detriment to the Mets on the field, and it would slice through a fan base that is currently hanging by a thread.

A majority of fans are swayed by how the media covers this team. While that's unfortunate, it's reality. And the media has been skewering the Mets for the better part of three years. Their coverage, coupled with the Bernard Madoff situation, has left many Mets fans more pessimistic than they've been in over a decade. Considering the product the Mets are putting on the field - a product I feel can easily contend for the Wild Card - the pessimism seems misguided. However, as was stated above, it's still there. The only thing that will change that perception is winning. And if the Mets intend to win, it's in their best interest to have Jose Reyes at the top of the lineup (both this season and beyond).

This Winter, the front office sold the fanbase on the fact that because of previous contractual obligations, the team wouldn't have much money to spend on new contracts for the 2011 season. That was understood, and they've done a solid job adding pieces to a team that has the potential to surprise. After 2011, the Mets have at least 40 million dollars coming off the books - a number that would reach nearly 60 million if Francisco Rodriguez's option doesn't vest. There is no possible way Sandy Alderson and the Mets will be able to sell the fanbase on trading a healthy Jose Reyes during the season, or letting him walk away after it.

At the moment, the Mets are viewed as a team in disarray (even though I would strongly argue that perception). Ticket sales have dropped considerably. Tickets that were once coveted (Opening Day), leading to raffles for the right to purchase them, will now be available when the rest of the ticket inventory goes on sale on March 14th. On top of that, is the debate over Reyes.

David Wright is widely regarded as the face of the franchise. He grew up a Mets fan in Virginia, runs his own charity, is accessible to the media. Reyes' voice has been quieter than Wright's, mostly because he only recently became comfortable enough with the English language to begin giving full interviews in English. And that's a credit to Reyes' desire to learn the language.

While Wright may be the public face of the franchise, Reyes is its legs. He's the one who makes the lineup go. He's the second piece of the Mets' homegrown All-Star left side of the infield. Like Wright, he lives for the game. The joy drips off him nearly every time we see him on the diamond. Every time he smacks a ball into the gap or down the line, the crowd rises in unison as they wait for Reyes to kick it into high gear before sliding head first into third base. Reyes is the dancer, the hand shake connoisseur, the straw that stirs the drink. And like David Wright, Jose Reyes IS the Mets. He belongs in Orange and Blue. I can't imagine the Mets without Jose Reyes. It's not something I want to fathom, and it's not something I ever want to deal with.

What Sandy Alderson and the rest of the Front Office need to realize (if they haven't already), is that this fanbase has been knocked down repeatedly over the last few years and still gotten up. Losing a healthy Jose Reyes for any reason would not only imperil the team's chances on the field, it would cause a large portion of the fanbase to take that hit and stay down. A healthy Jose Reyes would likely mean a contending Mets team in 2011. And a contending Mets team has no business dealing Jose Reyes or letting him walk away after a successful campaign.

Jose: Stay healthy and do what you always do.

Hopefully, the rest will take care of itself.