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Showing posts from July, 2020

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 C├ęspedes 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…

The Mets Sale and Other Tales from the Darkside

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Even as the Major League Baseball season, such as it is, gets ready to launch this week, the ongoing saga of the Mets sale still dominates the local news. It makes sense, really. If you're covering baseball in this town it's a huge story - much bigger than the shocking revelations that Jed Lowrie will begin the season on the disabled list. I mean really, who saw that coming?

What's amusing to me, at least, is all of the contradictory stories that come up. Some pundit boldly asserts that Sheldon Adelson is part of a bid to buy the Mets. His wealth makes Steve Cohen's net worth look like some kid's allowance. Then we find out that he's not interested in the Mets at all, he just wants to see a casino raised up above all of the chop shops in Willet's Point. And we're considering this because, nowadays, building a casino somewhere seems to be a prescription to revitalize any downtrodden area.

I just have this vision of some Dad taking his kids to a lovely S…

The Cano Conundrum

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Joel Sherman had a piece in the New York Post today about Robinson Cano, asking some of the same questions that I've been asking myself about the Mets second baseman. It's been bugging me that Luis Rojas has been batting Cano third in the lineup. The Mets are lucky enough to have some very good hitters on the club right now, and Cano shouldn't be batting third unless he's producing like an elite hitter. Sherman goes on to ask the fair question if Cano should be in the lineup at all.

Last year Cano put up an OPS+ of 96 for the season. He also played below average defense at second base. Historical comparisons aren't kind to 37 year old ballplayers coming off a bad season. Sherman does list a few who did bounce back, and that's obviously the hope for Cano. The Mets will be paying him a lot of money for 3 more years. I'm sure Rojas is batting Cano third in the lineup as as show of faith from the manager, and I get that, too. But how long does he stay there if…

Thoughts Heading Into the Final Days of Camp

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Some thoughts on the Mets as we are only a few short days away from the start of the 2020 season. First of all, I'm going to avoid coming to conclusions based on this weekend's exhibition games. In a normal spring training I try not to read too much into those games, and there are a lot more of them to evaluate. The Mets didn't really look ready to start the season yesterday, but I'm not sure how ready it's reasonable to expect them to be after only a couple of weeks preparation. In a season that is sure to be chock full of weirdness, I'm not sure what to expect from the Mets once the games start counting.

I think I would expect the pitchers to be a little ahead of the hitters when things get underway. I thought Rick Porcello looked pretty good last night. I also liked the way Familia pitched. His stuff looked solid. It's harder to evaluate relief pitchers in exhibition games, because they're not pitching with regular season adrenalin and you only have…

Rusty Was One of the Greats

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In the spring of 1972, I was getting ready to begin my fourth season as a fan of the New York Mets. The incredible rush of the 1969 Miracle Mets had been eclipsed by the disappointment of the oppressive mediocrity of the following two seasons. The Mets had finished in third place both years with identical 83-79 records. The pitching, other than Tom Seaver, had slipped a bit, and the offense was still pretty bad. The two stars of the position players, Cleon Jones and Tommie Agee, were seeing their careers slowly eroded by injuries.

The start of the 1972 season was delayed by the first baseball strike, which lasted from April 1 - April 13. It ended when MLB agreed to an increase in pension payments and the introduction of salary arbitration. To make matters much worse, Mets manager Gil Hodges died of a heart attack after a round of golf on April 2 and was replaced by Yogi Berra. To a young fan like myself, it felt like the world was falling apart.

It was in the midst of the chaos of th…

Bullpen Thoughts

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Nice piece in the New York Post yesterday about Jeurys Familia's attempt to bounce back from his awful 2019 campaign. Familia is trying to recapture the effectiveness of his splitter. Back when Familia first emerged as the closer for the Mets that was a very effective pitch for him, generating a lot of swing and misses.

Interesting, though, is the note that Familia is working at taking something off the splitter, to use is more as an off-speed pitch. If you remember back when he first started using the splitter, he threw it quite hard. One of the things that made it work for him was that it looked so much like his fastball, but had a lot of late dive to it. The article didn't mention whether he had abandoned the hard split completely or was going use it both ways. Last year he didn't have much success at all with the pitch, so I assume he's going for the complete makeover.

One of the stories from spring training 1.0 was all of the weight that Familia lost over the wint…