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The Céspedes Debacle

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Apologies for taking the day off yesterday. After another listless Mets loss against the Braves and the whole sorry Céspedes affair, anything I would have written yesterday would have been reactive rather than thoughtful. While 24 hours hasn't changed the dreadful position the Mets have put themselves in with their awful 3-7 start, everything does seem a little clearer to me now than it did yesterday.

I guess we should start with Yoenis Céspedes, since it seems virtually certain that we will never see him in a Mets uniform again. What Céspedes did, opting out of the season without being man enough to at least let his manager know face to face, was a crap move. How the Mets, particularly GM Brodie Van Wagenen, elected to handle the situation was typical of the weird, passive-aggressive nonsense that we've come to expect from the Mets over the last couple of decades.

The Mets GM issued the following statement shortly after the start of yesterday's game:
As of game time, Yoe…

Bullpen Follies

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I'm not sure what to say about last night's game. Heading into the season, it really looked like the Mets had done a good job of fortifying their bullpen, to the extent that I believed that the bullpen might be a strength for the club this season. Hey, it still might happen, but it doesn't seem all that likely any more, does it?

With the possible exception of closer Edwin Diaz's mental state, probably the biggest question mark in the bullpen is RH Dellin Betances. While the big right-hander's famous injury from last season was the torn Achilles that resulted from celebrating his return to the mound last September, he spent most of last season out with a shoulder impingement. Apparently he was dealing with multiple shoulder and lat issues last season. He's back in the 90s with his fastball now, and it certainly looks better than it did during original spring training, but the fastball hasn't looked explosive when I've seen him. He obviously doesn't …

Not the Start I Was Hoping For

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Yesterday I wrote that the Mets are starting to show the characteristics of a mediocre team. They continued that trend last night by allowing themselves to be pretty much shut down by a very unexceptional pitching staff. They also continued the first week trend of not getting big hits. They had a little momentum after taking a pair of games in Boston, and they gave it all back with two lackluster losses at home. And so it goes.

I was watching some of last night's effort and thinking about how much I wanted baseball to come back. I have to keep reminding myself of that, otherwise I might start asking myself if it was worth it. I can't pretend to be surprised by any of this, really. When I first heard the news that Syndergaard was getting Tommy John my first thought was that they had lost their one real chance to be really good. And that was before Marcus Stroman tore his calf muscle.

I realize that we're still only 7 games into the season, but that's the equivalent of …

The Epitome of Meh

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Even in a 60-game sprint it's too early to make summary judgements about the Mets, but I can't shake the feeling that I'm watching a very mediocre team right now. Almost everything about them screams yawns "middling" right now. Their 3-3 record, their fielding foibles, and the ongoing failures to capitalize on offensive opportunities all remind me of many previous Mets teams I've witnessed over the years - the baseball equivalent of a weak, tepid cup of restaurant coffee that's been sitting on the warmer a little too long.

Now, don't take any of this to signal that I've hoisted up the white flag on the season. There are the bones of a potentially better team here. If they get a little lucky - stay mostly healthy, avoid COVID infections among key personnel, get Stroman back, get something more resembling a competent major league starter out of Porcello - then they could certainly land somewhere north of break even. Of course, things could also go …

Behold, A Pale Horse!

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Apparently another Marlins player has tested positive for coronavirus, bringing their total infections to 16 players and two coaches. A friend of mine is convinced these are the end times, and the coronavirus is one of the signs. I'm not so sure that I agree with him but, if these are truly the end times, I expect when the four horsemen of the apocalypse ride in, the one representing pestilence will be wearing a Marlins cap.

The Marlins have been stuck in Philadelphia since the beginning of this story. That just seems like adding insult to injury to me, having so many players infected and being trapped in Philly. I've had nightmares that were less frightening than that scenario.

At least there's good news for the Phillies:
For the second consecutive day, all of the Philadelphia Phillies coronavirus tests for players and staff members have come back negative, a source familiar with the situation tells ESPN. — Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 29, 2020 Hopefully the tests kee…

Those Marlins Are Dropping Like Flies

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With the latest news about the Marlins coming out that their season has been shut down until at least next Monday, I'm tempted to write something snarky. I've loathed that team since they joined the league as the Florida Marlins almost 30 years ago. In grudging fairness to them, however, I'm going to avoid taking the easy cheap shot. This could happen to almost any team, given MLB's decision against playing this season in a "bubble."

As collateral damage from the pestilence sweeping through the Marlins, apparently the Phillies season has also been shut down until at least Friday. MLB is working to revise the schedule to avoid having too many missed games, but I honestly question how much longer this season can survive if another incident like this one happens to a different team.

I can't imagine what it would feel like to be a Phillies fan right now. You've lost baseball for at least a few days, and it doesn't even have anything to do with anythi…

Risky Business

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Well, this was a great start to something we waited so long for. The Mets gave their offense the whole weekend off. They blew a game they should have won, and then barely showed up for the rubber game of the series. If that wasn't enough, now the season itself is in jeopardy thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak that hit the Marlins. Suddenly the Mets performing so poorly was only the second-biggest bummer of the weekend for me.

Where things stand right now, 11 Marlins players and two coaches have tested positive for coronavirus. The tests were given while the team was in Philadelphia, but they were playing exhibition games in Atlanta before that. I'm not sure if it's possible to trace where the infections started, but MLB would do well to try and find out. Were some players on the Marlins just being careless? I think that must be what MLB and club owners probably are hoping for right now, because the alternative would be that the current guidelines they're operating under …

Pandemic Ball Update

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Maybe it's fitting considering the compressed baseball season this year (we're already 3.33 percent of the way through the regular season), but the Mets treated their fans to quite an emotional roller coaster over the first couple of days playing ball. Opening Day offered up all of the joy and promise of a new baseball season, then yesterday reminded us how baseball can string you along until you're almost at the finish line, then just yank it away from you in an instant. The bottom line: one strike away from a series victory and a 2-0 start, then crashing back down to .500 in an instant.

What bothers me is that yesterday's game felt like a giveaway - not so much from Edwin Diaz's one mistake, although that was heartbreaking enough - but the way the Mets failed to capitalize on opportunities to extend their lead, win the game outright in the bottom of the ninth, then fizzle out on a bases loaded, no outs last chance in the tenth. Offensively these last 2 days, the…

It Was Good Until It Wasn't

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This was one of those games that made me wonder why I missed baseball so much while it was gone. The offense was still out of sync, but the pitching was really great for 8-2/3 innings. Unfortunately, everything went to hell for that last inning and a third, and the winning streak ended at one.

Steven Matz pitched a really solid game. His curveball was a bit inconsistent but generally effective. He kept the Mets in the game until their offense put together their one effective inning to plate a pair of runs in the fifth. If Matz can continue to pitch close to this level for the rest of the season he might finally live up to the potential he showed when he first came up.
The Mets offense was non-existent for the first four innings, but finally broke through in the fifth. Michael Conforto hit a one-out opposite field double to get things going, then Amed Rosario tripled to right-center on the next pitch. After Nimmo was hit by a pitch, Jeff McNeill did a nice job lifting a sacrifice fly …

A Perfectly Scripted Win

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As is often the case on Opening Day, today was a good day to be a Mets fan. Other than the fact that I'd like to see a little more offense, I doubt if I could have scripted this afternoon's game any better. deGrom was solid for five innings, the bullpen pitched well, and Yoenis Céspedes crushed a badly located fastball to provide the Mets all of the offense they would need.

My day started out well before the game got underway when I saw that Robinson Cano was batting sixth. I don't know if the decision was all Luis Rojas's or if there was input from upstairs, but it was absolutely the right move. That's where Cano should bat in the order unless he turns it around and earns a better spot in the order. It sets the right kind of tone for the team, and shows there's a sense of urgency for this season.

Once the Mets got the lead, Rojas didn't hesitate to put Andres Gimenez into the game at 2B in place of Cano. He also pulled J.D. Davis out of the game, putting …

Cue the Laugh Track

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I've been around for quite a while now, and have had my share of good years and bad years. I've had to adjust to my share of changes that life more or less thrust upon me without bothering to ask me for my approval. For all of that, 2020 stands out above all the other years for the sheer disruption that it has caused both myself and the world around me. A lot has been asked out of all of us that we never bargained for.

Do not fear, however, now that there's news that FOX will use "virtual fans" to sweeten its MLB broadcasts. Fox is planning to utilize augmented reality technology to create a virtual crowd in the stands, both visually and audibly. To quote Fox Sports executive vice president Brad Zager:
"We were dead set on trying to make the broadcast with no crowd feel as authentic and organic as possible. We want to give people an escape." So basically, what the man is saying that Fox wants to give us an "authentic and organic" experience b…

Playing Doctor

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With the Mets only a couple of days away from Opening Day 2020, the news about Marcus Stroman going on the injured list with a torn calf muscle is not good. The Mets need to keep their five starting pitchers healthy to have a chance to compete this season, as their depth in starting pitching basically consists of Corey Oswalt, who has a career major league ERA north of 6, and prospect David Peterson, who has yet to pitch in the major leagues. I don't know about you, but after watching Oswalt's previous starts, I'd be inclined to roll the dice with the new guy. Watching Oswalt pitch reminds me of witnessing Lima time back in 2006, only without the entertaining theatrical extras.

Anyway, there's no reason to worry about Stroman too much. I have it on good authority that Stroman has secured the doctor who is guiding Jed Lowrie through his rehabilitation. That's his picture on top of the page. Now that's a guy who inspires confidence. But all kidding aside, now St…