For the fan in enemy territory

Friday, March 26, 2010

The trickling effect on the Met pen

As the season begins in just days now, the New York Mets still are trying to work out the kinks. One of those kinks is the bullpen. Specifically the set up reliever to Rodriguez. In a two month attempt to do so, the Mets failed to sign Joe Beimel. They have auditioned several others for that role, but with mixed results.

The team is still seeking an answer. The two latest possibilities that they have been suggesting are both unique and similar. First, they are rumored by multiple sources to be interested in pursuing the recently released Chad Gaudin. Second, they are considering promoting current specialist reliever, Pedro Feliciano, to the position.

In Gaudin, the team would have a reliable option out the bullpen. He finished well down the stretch for the Yankees last season with a 3.43 era in 42 innings, including 6 starts. He is versatile and reliable. Unfortunately for him, he is looking for a job since the Yankees are a little packed in the pitching depth and had to push someone out.

His recent stint with the defending champions, should make him a hot commodity. His experience will make him in demand. I see another Joe Beimel situation potentially brewing. May the highest bidder win. It probably won't be the Mets. They have shown that they are concerned with putting money into veterans who are often injured.

Pedro Feliciano could be a good option in this spot, but it raises a few concerns. First, how will he handle the switch from facing lefties primarily to being the dominant guy in the eighth inning against both sides. He has a career average of .272 against righties and the addition of a cutter may help, but it is hardly an established pitch for him yet.

Even if he does make a solid transition to the role, this brings up an even more puzzling question. He was the reliever to go to against the premier lefties in the game, namely a few Phillies. With him in a new role, who will be the one to replace him in his old role. Takahashi? Igarashi? I think I'm turning Japanese. I really think so.

Seriously, the pitcher that replaces him must have not only the type of stuff to handle a Ryan Howard, but the experience not to be frazzled by facing a Ryan Howard. This is the intangible that Feliciano brings into the fold.

This is the attitude that he offers that is so vital to success as a reliever in this league. If he is chosen to make this move, it would be a surprising move to say the least for this over conservative management. However, it would be a mistake in my opinion.

He is capable of establishing himself as the bridge to K-Rod, but no one else so far is capable of bridging the gap against the lefties that he would dominate. It is a tough decision to make. Let's hope they make the right one.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

5 Reasons my computer is like the Mets

I have had some computer trouble lately, as anyone who blogs can relate. It has been crashing multiple times, just after running quickly. That made me start to think. This sounds familiar to me. The New York Mets always crash when they are running well too. It is with this in mind, that I began a list of why the Mets are like my computer.

The first reason, is my favorite. My computer cost me a lot of money I didn't really have. Despite the price, it is often not working properly. Just like the Mets. How many times in this franchise's history have they spent money on a player just to see that player get hurt? They also just claimed in the off season that they didn't have money. How many players did they sign this off season?

The second reason is it was advertised as having a powerful memory, but comes up short. Just like the Mets. They were supposed to be a power hitting team with an explosive offense and experience to remember certain pitchers. They struggled mightily in both of those aspects last year.

Third, it often runs fast and then for no reason and without warning, crashes, just like a Mets player rounding a base. I can't remember how many times I seen a player in the middle of a baseball action just drop. It is shocking and disheartening at the same time.

Fourth, it has a tendency to be working well and then has trouble saving information. In other words, it drops the ball just when I need it the most. Just like the Mets. I think back to Luis Castillo here, obviously, but it's not just him. Many of the players have made key errors in pivotal moments of a game. Whether it's physically by committing an error, or mentally by not running out a pop up or swinging at a pitch with two outs in the ninth inning of a seventh game of the NLCS.

Finally, I can't live without it. Just like the Mets. It's a part of me. I love and hate this machine at the same time, just like the Mets. Sure, I could just go and buy a new one, change my experience. But I don't want to. Just like I could go and change my team, as so may band wagon jumpers do. I can't do that, I don't even know how others do. This computer and I have been through too much to look back now. Just like the Mets. So, I'll hang onto it in the hopes that it can be fixed, just like the Mets.

Jose's coming, Doc's going

It has been a very revealing past 24 hours for the New York Mets. Two stories have broken that are on opposite ends of the pendulum. First, is a story that concerns the Mets directly, this year. Jose Reyes, who just in recent weeks was diagnosed with an overactive thyroid and temporarily shut down to properly treat it, is able to resume baseball activities.

This is great news on many levels. First, and most importantly, the man's life is not in danger. Second, his career seems to not be in any danger also. Finally, the Mets will not only get their spark plug back in their lineup, but faster than they initially anticipated.

Personally, I am glad for all three, but mostly for the first point about his life. We as fans tend to forget at times that these players are people too. We get so wrapped up in the sport. 'Why did he try to steal on that pitch?', What's he thinking out there, swinging at that?" We forget they are real people with real lives and real problems that can effect any of us.

This is the most important point, because it transcends his being an athlete, and reminds us that he is human. I'm rooting for his continued health, as I'm sure we all are, but not just because he's a Met, because he's human.

On the topic of being human and acting accordingly, I wish to discuss the other big story of the day. The New York Mets invited Dwight 'Doc' Gooden down to spring training just weeks ago. His purpose was to not only set a positive example for the players, but to warn them of the dangers of wrong life choices, like the ones he is infamous for making throughout his life. He is self proclaimed to have 'conquered his demons'.

Just the other night, he was arrested for a DUI and causing a vehicular accident as a result, with his son in the car. It looks like those demons are rearing their heads. I'm in no way making fun of him. This is a frustrating story in a few ways.

First, he was doing so well and seemed to be getting his life together again. Addictions are for life, no matter what it is. He failed to realize this. Second, what's the child doing in the car in that situation anyway? I am not the biggest advocate for shielding children, or anything like that.

I believe that many Americans grew up without wearing helmets to ride bikes and played with toy trucks painted with lead based paint. We all seemed to turn out alright. I'm not saying he was in the wrong for letting the child see him under the influence of anything. That may not have been acceptable as it is, but no one can tell a parent how to raise their child.

What, to me, was the most unacceptable part of the story, was that the child was in an unsafe environment and put there by his father. That is completely unacceptable. A father's first priority is to protect their child, then be an example.

While he failed at both, the first one will surely hurt the child in the long run. On a more trivial note, am interesting discussion is now raging because of this image snafu. Should the Mets reconsider retiring his number? I say 'no'. I also am one to advocate for Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame, so what do I know?

I don't think his off the field antics should destroy the legacy he created on the field. If that was the case, then why not ban every bad person who ever played. Babe Ruth was a drunk. Why not ban him? Goose Gossage threw every dirty pitch in the game. Why not kick him out? Ty Cobb was a wife beater? Why is he in the Hall?

The answer to all of this is simple, off the field issues don't affect on the field legacy in baseball. It may in politics. It may even in other sports, but not baseball. The grand sport of baseball has a rich history of deadbeats and jerks succeeding and being embraced by not only their peers, but those who follow their given teams. Let's not upset the apple cart now.

Dwight Gooden made a poor choice. He's human, as are we all. He needs help. He needs support and especially, he needs time to clean up. We must be understanding, after all to err is human, to forgive is baseball.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

NY Fan's fantasy baseball tips - Part 2, the duds

In our next part of the continuing series, let's take a look at the players to avoid all together and those to hold off on drafting until they prove themselves. I first want to begin with the everyday players.

1. Pat Burrell -(2009) Owned a .221 avg, 14 hr's in a dome, may not even make roster despite his $9M owed salary.

2. David Ortiz -(2009) Had a slow start, but got up to 28 hr's with 99 rbi's. His average has dipped to .238 and the rest of his numbers may soon follow. If you draft him, proceed with caution.

3. Alex Rios -(2009) He hit only 17 hr's and 71 rbi's while sporting a .247 avg, Rios' production took a big hit last year. He bounced back from injury in '09, but begins this year with quad concerns.

4. Troy Glaus -(2009) The Braves took a chance on him. He was injured all but 14 games last year. He hasn't proven himself healthy in a while. This is an injury red flag.

5. Vladimir Guerrero -(2009) Vlad the impaler had only 15 hr's and 50 rbi's last year in 100 games. Texas may have over paid for his bat. He has been injured frequently in recent years.

6. Coco Crisp -(2009) His name is fun to see, but his fantasy stats last year sure weren't. Multiples injuries cut his stats down to 49 games. He did manage 13 swipes and 30 runs scored but posted just a .228 avg. Waiting on him to prove his health may be wise.

7. Jose Guillen -(2009) His season was cut short by injury. He played half of the year, just 81 games and only had 9 hr's and 40 rbi's in that time. He sported a .242 avg and hasn't shown consistent health this spring either.

8. Vernon Wells -(2009) A full season of 15 hr's and 66 rbi's in the heart of a lineup is unacceptable. He will be looking to bounce back and must over come trade rumors as well.

9. Russell Martin -(2009) He was once heralded as a bright young hitting catcher. He still may be, but '09 isn't a step in that direction. A full season with a .250 avg, 7 hr's and only 53 rbi's is not a line for a catcher with that type of promise.

10. Conor Jackson -(2009) Jackson had a tough '09. In 30 games, he had 1 hr and a .182 avg. He is supposed to be healthy now, time will tell. Also he is being moved in the lineup and is unproven in the leadoff spot.

Honorable mention for everyday players: Ken Griffey Jr -age is catching up to him, Carlos Gullen -he has to stay healthy and DHing may help but he's still on the mend, Magglio Ordonez -he is not the same power hitter he once was but could bounce back. On a personal note, speaking as a Mets fan who plays fantasy baseball successfully, I would stay away from drafting Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes initially, but pick them up as the season progresses.

Next up, the starting pitcher that need to be red flagged.

1. Armando Galarraga -(2009) He was a fantasy sleeper for the past two years, now he is being demoted and hoping for an injury in the big club. A 5.64 era and 6-10 record will do that.

2. Francisco Liriano -(2009) He had a 5.80 era and was just 5-13. He has fallen a long way from a potential ace to battling for a fifth starter job. He needs to rebound before owners can trust him enough to draft him.

3. Brian Bannister -(2009) He has not been the pitcher fantasy owners have hoped for. He has been consistently drafted in hopes of being a sleeper. Not this year. His '09 record of 7-12 with a 4.73 era is bad enough to make him have to fight for an unguaranteed roster spot.

4. Fausto Carmona - (2009) The '09 numbers are staggering to owners that had him last year. A record of 5-12, 6.32 era and a 1.76 whip is not good. He has had rave reviews so far this spring, but he needs to be consistent in order to regain his draft status.

5. Oliver Perez -(2009) Ollie is the most puzzling pitcher in the league. He can be lights out and lit up. He is the definition of streaky. His '09 sported an era of 6.82 with a 3-4 record in 14 starts. He had injuries that held him back. He has shown up this spring in great shape and showing some production. I can't trust him yet, though. If I had to choose between him and a few others left in the later draft rounds, I'd probably not pick him. I like him, I love his team, but I hate his inconsistencies.

Honorable mention starters: John Maine -getting over injuries and could be good again but time will tell, Jeremy Guthrie -is a sleeper candidate and a dud candidate depending on his current streaks, Micah Owings -if you're in a league where pitchers batting stats count then get him but otherwise stay away from the high whip and era.

Relievers that need to be drafted late or not at all.

1. Joe Nathan -(2009) He is a big loss for the Twins. His '09 stats include 47 saves and a era of only 2.10 with a 0.93 whip. The best news, his Tommy John surgery was successful. The bad news he's done for '10. Keep tabs on who replaces him and you could grab a fantasy steal, but Nathan will not factor this year.

2. Kerry Wood -(2009) Wood had 20 saves with a era of 4.25, which for a closer is dreadful. A back injury has him out at least until the middle of May, and possibly longer. Pick up Chris Perez for a steal. Wood may not even be the closer when he returns if Perez has success.

3. Carlos Marmol -(2009) Marmol had 15 saves in limited opportunities last year. He is now the full time closer but still has the control issues despite the velocity to finish out games. A 3.41 era is not consistent enough to trust in the early rounds of the draft. Get him late if at all.

Honorable mention relievers: Chad Qualls -starts the season not completely healthy and if he falters Arizona, who played musical closers last year, could pull the trigger on him and replace him with Howry. Trevor Hoffman -how much gas does the all time saves leader have left especially with Hawkins waiting in the bullpen. Octavio Dotel -he should be the Pirates closer, but has injury questions to start the season and competition for the job.

The last part of this series will concentrate on the sleepers of the league and the rookies to watch. This is where you could be very effective in drafting if you do your home work. I hope this helps someone out there know who to hold off on.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Even mother nature says don't rush Mejia

This spring training has shown the New York Mets a few things. First, their younger players are solid and could contribute right now to a degree. Second, no one worth having wants to be a Met. Next, spring training is for working out the kinks in your game, even if that means giving up nine hits to your former team, Johan. Finally, the Mets rush players along and then don't recognize the signs of it when that player struggles.

To explain myself, let me begin with the first point. The Mets have a core in the majors that everyone knows about. They are David Wright, Jose Reyes, Johan Santana, and Carlos Beltran. What they also have, that is not known to the rest of the baseball world and wasn't known to the Mets fan until this spring, was they have a potentially good young core in the minors too.

When you consider Josh Thole's abilities and potential, or Ike Davis' power, it's easy to recognize. When noticing Jennry Mejia, that talent is confirmed. This is a positive sign for a team that had depleted its' farm system and stripped it bare for years.

That farm system has been in disarray and in desperate need for repair for years. The Mets have had the least reputable minor league organizations in the majors for several years now. It is wonderful to see so many young faces that have the potential to be in the show someday.

With that said, let's remember, it's only potential. Let's slow down. Perhaps that it what Mother Nature was saying when the planned back to back outing plan for Mejia was rained out. I'm getting ahead of myself though. Back to my next point.

The Mets tried to pursue Joe Beimel in the offseason. They had a minor league contract offered to him for nearly two months. He held out for a major league contract, then settled for a different minor league contract with the Colorado Rockies. He traded one minor league contract for another. It came down to choosing the team, not the money.

Therefore, he chose not to be a Met. That is a horrible message to send to the rest of the league. What then does this say to the potential free agents for next year? Don't go to the Mets because they send 'mixed signals'.

On a personal note, I hope that when Beimel faces the Mets, the Mets light him up like Times Square because of all of this, but that's just me. It does avoid more options for the already log jammed bullpen. That's not too bad. At least deserving pitchers who have had a good spring will get a better look, hopefully.

The next point is about Johan Santana. I've actually heard people on message boards say that he's not good anymore and he's already done. That the Mets over spent for an already washed up pitcher and Minnesota knew it before they traded him.

Are you kidding me? Relax people. He's still Johan Santana. He's still a solid pitcher and the ace of this staff. He's still getting the kinks out of his mechanics and pitches. It is only March. Let's get a grip, okay. He'll be fine. It's the other starters that we all should question.

Lastly, this team rushes players too often. I can think of so many examples. Not just throughout the history of the franchise, but in this current administration as well. I can recall names like Lastings Milledge, Alex Escobar and even Fernando Martinez to a degree.

They all were rushed at some point and although the jury is still out on F-Mart, they have all had a lack of success at the major league level due to that managerial impatience. It is my hope, as I have been saying for a while now, that this will not be the case with Jennry Mejia.

If he is hurried, he may struggle. I hope he doesn't, but if he does, will he struggle so much that he loses confidence and become ineffective? This is the danger of rushing a player that may not have enough experience to handle struggling just yet.

I would hate to see this happen to Mejia, who I've been referring to lately as 'the next'. Hopefully, 'the next' will be 'the next Mariano Rivera or Doc Gooden', and not 'the next Bill Pulsipher'. Dear God let's hope for that.

Niether Joe a Met, is Adrian worth the farm?

The New York Mets bullpen has had a few holes that need to be filled. Media stories have suggested that one of those holes would be eventually filled by free agent, Joe Beilmel. According to reports, Beimel's agent is no longer in discussions with the Mets due to "mixed signals". That sounds exactly like the Mets.

They had a need, an interested player, only a little more room to go to get the deal done, and they stop talking. Another year of Sean Green, possibly. The lack of aggressiveness, I have touched on before, has cost this team another important piece to the puzzle of solving the NL East.

The biggest news of the day, comes in Minnesota. In the past few weeks, news has centered around All-star, and franchise player Joe Mauer. His contract negotiations had slowed up. This left many to believe the desperate Twins would shop him around for fear that they couldn't afford to resign him.

Many in the New York Mets fan base, were calling for the team to try to jump on the opportunity to trade for him. Even if this meant that the farm system would be depleted. The Mets may have been listening to that fan base, but if they did, however, no reports have confirmed any talks between the teams. The opinion still held fast that Mauer was too expensive for a smaller market team to pay out so much money to.

News today has moved very quickly to change that opinion. The Minnesota Twins and Joe Mauer have agreed to a massive 8 year $184M deal today to keep him in the land of lakes until close to retirement. He is from the area, so he most likely wanted to get the deal done, but usually local boy does good and gives the home team a discount. Not here anyway.

He is worth the deal, in baseball talent terms. No catcher is as good of a hitter as he is. He plays in a dome where there is no wind to aid a carrying ball. He plays in a very loud atmosphere and still has to call the game well. He plays in front of very passionate fans. He has a high bar set for him because he is a local boy.

I say congratulations to him and Minnesota for having the marbles to pay out like that. On the other hand, it brings up a very interesting question to me. If the Mets had indeed become interested in the Mauer sweepstakes, would Josh Thole and/or Ike Davis have been involved? It wouldn't surprise me if they were.

If that is the case. If the Mets brass were at least thinking of a trade scenario to offer the Twins, then how safe is the Mets farm system? That brings me to another, similar story. The San Diego Padres have a big fish for sale. His name is Adrain Gonzalez. Just last month the Mets were calling up the Padres to touch base with them about him.

Now, add a few more suitors to the MLB dating game. Boston, Tampa Bay, Cleveland and the Mets have all been rumored at some point this preseason as interested in Adrian Gonzalez. Despite these daily rumor distractions, he's taking it all with an even stride, but how long can that last? Will the Mets trade their farm system to get him? Could they afford to?

I've read some interesting fan points of the possibility of Daniel Murphy perhaps being trade bait. This is a factor, but an even more enticing piece for a team like San Diego, would be Ike Davis and a few others. The power display Davis has put on this spring, could cause him to be in demand if the team were to consider any moves.

I'm sure, beyond a doubt that Jennry Mejia is untouchable. I would hope so, or Omar and his 'baseball people' should be fired for any trades he is in. It would be like the Kazmir backlash all over again. Could the team mortgage their future for a player in their present? Sure they can.

They do it all of the time. This current administration may not have the history of it, but they hear the ever more loudly growing growning of their fan base. They have to. If they don't hear and react to it, they are ignorant to those who pay their salaries. This growning from an impatient fan base will cause them to sell the farm sometime this midseason, or at the very least, try to.

Other teams have other players who are major league ready and coming from equally desperate teams. This is the first step of trade talks. Network to your peers and see who wants to take the bait you have dangled. Usually it's the Mets jumping first and lately, not jumping the highest. Perhaps that could be a good thing for them though. It will at least cause a seemingly desperate team to not act so desperately.