For the fan in enemy territory

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Knicks need to go to plan C

The New York Knicks entered the 2010 free agency period with extremely high hopes. They had spent the past few seasons selling fans on the concept on 2010 being a hugely successful off season. They spent the majority of last season clearing cap room in preparation to sign one or more of the free agents available.

Those free agents are rapidly dwindling. Specifically, the three most coveted free agents in this year's class: Lebron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade. All three of them have announced their collective signing with the Miami Heat in the past few days. The Knicks have not even been able to resign current valuable players such as David Lee.

The team did sign Amare Stoudemire in an attempt to lure one of the free agents, particularly one of the fore mentioned three to New York. Stoudemire was also a security signing of sorts in case those three don't take the bait. Then at least the Knicks would not have appeared to come out of the off season empty handed.

After all of the hype surrounding, to chance that and look like inept buffoons was not an option. Still, they have appeared to come out empty handed anyway. So if Lebron James was the original plan A, and Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade or another big name free agent was plan B, perhaps it is time to develop plan C.

In this case, the "C" would stand for Carmello Anthony. Anthony is a free agent in 2011 and a native New Yorker. A perfect fit for a Knicks team in desperate need of some loyalty and love from a free agent in the NBA. If his friend Amare Stoudemire were to make a phone call and press the issue, perhaps Anthony could be convinced to force a sign and trade to the Knicks for this coming season.

If not he is a viable option for 2011. In the meantime, Knicks fans will have to wait to see big free agents playing at Madison Square Garden until when the Miami Heat visit New York.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wright and Reyes: The Usual Suspects

The National League All Star team was named recently. On the list are many notable and recognizable names. The Pujols' and Halladay's of the league are there. Several teams are well represented. St Louis and Atlanta each have five players going to the mid-season classic. But the roster choices raise a few interesting questions for the average fan.

Questions such as: Is Marlon Byrd the best player on the Cubs? Who's Evan Meek? How does Matt Holliday get in? For the Mets fan though there are even more questions. How are Mike Pelfrey or Angel Pagan not even considered? Rod Barajas? Francisco Rodriguez?

I know I wrote an article about K-Rod yesterday, but still he does have more saves than Jonathan Broxton, Evan Meek and Arthur Rhodes combined. Shouldn't there be some consideration for overall stats. The trouble is a Phillies manager picked most of these players. He would never want to give credit to the Mets.

Truthfully, if the fans didn't vote David Wright in, I doubt he would be an All Star right now. Though his numbers certainly show him to be deserving of it. Jose Reyes has deserved it too. They both have worked their tails off to be one of the best in their league at their positions. That shows too, as they have seven All Star appearances between them.

Wright has a solid line this season to prove that he has bounced back from last season. His .315 batting average, 14 home runs and 64 rbi's are all among league leaders. An impressive feat given where he was this time last season. He may be eligible for the comeback player of the year when all is said and done in 2010.

As for Reyes, he would be a candidate for that title as well. He is playing almost up to the standards of the Reyes of old with a solid line too. Despite having a late start due to a thyroid scare, he has posted a .277 avg with 32 rbi's and 19 stolen bases. He has been spectacular in the new ball park and even more, he has been the catalyst of the Mets offense as he was in previous seasons.

These two are deserving stars and athletes. Though we fans don't agree with all of the choices, we should celebrate the two that were so exceptional this season that even a Phillies manager couldn't ignore.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Bullpen Troubles Raise Questions

The New York Mets thought they had all of their late inning troubles behind them on December 8th, 2008. That's when they signed Francisco Rodriguez to a three year deal. Rodriguez, known throughout the league as K-Rod, joined the team after a record setting season with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

During the '08 season, he amassed 62 saves and became the highly sought after free agent of that off season. The Mets, who had struggled with the late game facet of their bullpen immediately and aggressively pursued him. After joining them, he has had an interesting season and a half as the Mets closer.

He accumulated 35 saves with a 3-6 record and a 3.71 ERA last season. Not the most impressive of lines. He was on a badly injured team, so with this in consideration, the fans decided to give him another chance. This season, he already has four blown saves in 24 chances. The rest of his line is not too bad though. He holds a 2.57 ERA with 20 saves.

He is on pace to beat his marks from last season for sure. But he is also on pace for 10 blown saves. As we reach the half way point of his tenure here in the closer role, what was supposed to be a sure thing is becoming more of an uncertainty. When he comes in to pitch, fans get an uneasy feeling in their gut or a sharp pain in their chest.

A closer is supposed to automatic, but he has been anything but that. If he comes close to the pace of 10 blown saves, the Mets will most likely miss the playoffs. Those 10 games are the difference between contending for the division or losing out for the wild card. The Mets need to address this issue now, before he blows too many games and costs them a chance at a playoff season.

He has seemingly lost some zip on his fastball these days. Some speculate it may be due to injury or to lack of motivation, but regardless the reason, he is not the same pitcher he was. The stats are still on pace for his averages, but something is missing. He walks too many batters in inopportune times and gives up far too many hits in key moments.

It's almost as if the fire isn't there and he tries too hard to compensate for it. When that happens, he misses in the strike zone and gets burned for it. The team has recognized that they need to address the bullpen. They have signed veteran reliever Brian Bruney to a minor league deal with the hope that he will help the club soon.

Not the best of moves considering he has had a feud of words with K-Rod and an ERA of 7.64. This is high, even in today's baseball standards. It is so high in fact that he was released by the Washington Nationals earlier this season. Not a great choice for chemistry or performance thus far for the Mets. The problem though, is if they get a good bullpen option to set up K-Rod in the 8th, can they trust K-Rod in the 9th? Especially in big games.

This seems to be on the mind of the fans in general. If the team is to get to the post season, they must have confidence in their closer and their closer must have confidence in himself in the key moments. So far, that confidence has seemingly been shaky on both sides, but particularly it has been called in question within the fan base.

This same fan base, who had heralded him with adoration only 18 months ago, now cringe when he comes in to pitch. That is a sure sign that there is little confidence in this element of the team from its' fans. I mention fans, because, they are usually a good way to gauge a player's performance overall in a season.

If a certain player excels, they will adore him, if he struggles, they will despise him. If that player is shaky or streaky, so are the fans toward him. Thus far, this season, the fan response has been generally mixed for the most part. That is a prime example of the overall performance from K-Rod this season.

He has been good and bad, just as the loyalties of the fans toward him have been. His streakiness must not go unnoticed however. The fans are giving them signs to go by. They are telling the Mets that he has issues and there is a reason to question him. The team needs to address his issues and be honest about recognizing that he has an issue. Otherwise, it will be an even longer next 18 months.