Category Archives: Columns

2014 Mets Power Rankings: June 2012

Oh how things change. I sort of meant to make this a monthly feature, but every-other-monthly gives us more information to play with. So here we are two months into the season with the updated 2014 Mets Power Rankings.

If you’re new, the idea behind the list is this: If you are an expansion team set to play baseball in 2014 with the sole goal of fielding a competitive team in 2014 – that is, you care about 2014 and nothing else – and you can only pick current Mets players, whom would you take and in what order? The only other limitation being that the player must be under team control in 2014. (Also, for the sake of the exercise, the dollar value of contracts don’t count.) That’s the idea here. So the list is mostly young players and prospects, though our first old man has snuck in.

That’s the guiding philosophy. Here’s the list: Continue reading

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It Happened

Understand this is delayed by about two days but — AHHHHHHHHH!!!!

Johan Santana threw a no-hitter! I choose to see circularity in the affair:

— That Johan Santana threw the no-no, he who pitched the last meaningful, stadium-rocking, show-stopping, changeup-demolishing Mets victory in Game 161 back in 2008. He put Shea to sleep and work New Shea up.

— Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, the three starring figures in the prelude to the dark times, returned to play important parts once again. The reunion was on.

— And really that’s all I’ve got re: circular affair.

Friday night felt like a turning point. It wasn’t; turning points are never apparent in the moment. We pick turning points later, assign events a new, historical meaning once the present washes away. Game 7 of the NLCS in 2006 felt like a first step for a young exciting Mets team — David Wright, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, along with the young pitchers John Maine, Oliver Perez, Mike Pelfrey — and it proved anything but. The 2007 season started to come apart when the Phillies swept the Mets in Philadelphia at the end of August, even if it just seemed a late-season swoon at the time. The turning point for these New York Mets may have come already, may still come, maybe won’t come for a long time. Maybe it was the no-hitter. The fire spreads at some point, but we won’t know when until we pick the flash point out later.

But this. The no-hitter happened — IT HAPPENED! — and that’s where the magic lies. The Mets saw 8,019 Christmas Eves before finally waking up for their first Christmas morning. Johan Santana appeared to will himself into this, just as he seems to will himself into everything. All those nonsensical, cliched words — guts, heart, will, desire, want, whatever — shook off their overuse and regained meaning. They seem so real when Johan Santana pitches. Behemoths are real. We’ve caught glimpses, seen what others whisper about and many claim to see.

Not to lose perspective of course, on the the silly, pajama-wearing, bat-and-ball, circular-running, weighted-number generator, “whatever-the-hell-a-pastoral-game-is” pastoral game that provides us with so much entertainment. Guts on the baseball field matter not. Unless you want them to matter. Baseball gives you what you take from it. The players play and we tell the stories. We build our own meaning out of a game.

Johan Santana faced 32 batters on June 1 and none reached on a hit. I’ll take some meaning from that, thank you very much.

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When Little Things Go Awry

Here’s a confession: I spend a decent amount of time wondering how I appear to others, mostly because I’m shallow and vain. See, when I walk down a street in Manhattan, I immediately size up the 20-30 persons whom I pass. The thin, grey-bearded man in the oversized khakis is unmarried, has worked at the same office job for 20 years, and goes out of his way to be friendly towards strangers. The couple sharing a cigarette and wearing jeans from which no light escapes are art students at NYU. The attractive young woman in the trench coat probably would not date me. And so on. I can also tell you all the many, many faults of my friends, siblings and parents, and deliver comprehensive amateur psychological profiles on each. I find it easy to point out the strengths and flaws in others. Ask me for a demonstration sometime. Continue reading

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I Don’t Know What We’re Yelling About

The Brewers blew out the Mets 8-0 on Tuesday. But — outside of those concerned with the Mets’ growing runs scored/runs allowed gap — you know, who cares about the game itself. The most interesting moment of the night was the spirited discussion betwixt Terry Collins and David Wright in the Mets’ dugout during the seventh inning.

Here’s the setup if you missed it: In the top half of the seventh, D.J. Carrasco was ejected by home plate umpire (and SNY announcer portnameteau) Gary Darling for plunking Ryan Braun with the first pitch immediately following a home run. The plunking appeared unintentional, for it would have been the most accurate pitch Carrasco has ever thrown in a Mets uniform. Regardless, Collins feared the Brewers might retaliate with similarly errant pitches. He removed his best hitters, Wright and Daniel Murphy, for their protection. Wright was visually displeased, caught on camera speaking emphatically with Collins and reportedly demanding to stay in the game. Collins said “no,” Wright said “what,” Collins said “You can do what you want Dave, but the next time you see me coming you better run.” Jordany Valdespin pinch hit for Wright. The third baseman appeared to speak calmly with Collins later in the same inning, so I assume things are cool now.

Breaking down reactions of the various parties:

1. I liked David Wright’s reaction. He didn’t want anyone else taking a pitch for him, and he made sure his teammates knew as much. Nevermind the baseball side of things — as a human being, that’s pretty cool. If someone you admire refuses to let you to take a punishment intended for him or her, that means something. Leadership is a buzzword now beaten into meaninglessness by politicians, and job and college applications. But I think Wright’s reaction is what leadership is supposed to be. Wright unofficially captains the third-youngest team in the National League. That sort of stuff matters coming from him.

Also he’s hitting .400.

I suppose yelling at your manager on camera may not be the best example for the Padawans, but in this case — Wright showing his teammates he’ll literally fight to take a pitch for any one of them — it can be excused as a necessary display.

Oh, also, Wright is hitting .400.

2. I also liked Terry Collins’ reaction. Wright and Murphy have been the Mets’ best hitters in 2012. (I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence.) Wright is playing with a broken pinkie, and he’s (maybe) just now recovered from being beaned by Matt Cain in 2009. The Mets can’t afford to lose either one to an errant pitch. Collins’ job is to protect his players from opposing pitchers, umpires, and even the player himself. Collins did his job in this case.

3. D.J. Carrasco is the goat here. He had one job last night: soak up innings in a blowout. The only way Carrasco could fail — the only way! — was to get himself ejected. The only way he could get himself ejected was to give up a home run and then plunk the next batter with a first pitch fastball. I guess he could have flipped off the umpire or something. Whatever. Carrasco did the one thing he couldn’t do, and made things even worse by hitting the opposing team’s best player. He gets a double F* for this one.

*A Double F = a Frank Francisco. Like an F-minus, but worse.

4. Collins kinda sorta totally threw Carrasco under the bus during the postgame presser. I’m not sure the long reliever is long for this team. You know how the Knicks originally hired Mike Woodson as a “defensive coordinator” of sorts? The Mets should get a “bullpen coordinator” for Sandy Alderson.

5. The Brewers did not plunk any Mets in retaliation. It seemed Carrasco’s pitch was without intent, and the Brewers may have seen it as such. All may have been for naught. We’ll see how it goes when the Mets meet the Brew Crew again in  . . . looks at calender . . . oh, September. That’s a long way off. We’ll probably all have forgotten by then.

6. If any game demanded a pitching appearance by Mike Baxter, this was the game.

The final grades: David Wright get an A+ because he’s hitting .400. Terry Collins is downgraded to a B for refusing to pitch Mike Baxter. D.J. Carrasco has probably flunked out.

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Mets-Giants Series Wrap-up

Once again, that didn’t go all that well. Notes on the Mets-Giants series after the jump: Continue reading

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Mets-Braves Series Wrap-Up

Well that didn’t go all that well. Notes on Mets-Braves after the jump Continue reading

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Mets-Braves Live Blog

I’ll be “Blogging Live On Game,” or “BLOG”-ing for short, today’s Mets-Braves game. 12:10 start. Check back in about an hour and refresh for updates as they come: Continue reading

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Phillies Series Wrap-Up and Notes

Notes from the weekend’s Mets-Braves series. Take the jump: Continue reading

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Pitchers’ Duel Interrupted by Bullpen Suicide: Series Wrap-up

Let’s start here: I’m not one for the term “pitchers’ duel” — it’s not as if Johan Santana and Stephen Strasburg took turns yesterday beaning each other with fastballs until one begged for mercy. (Note to self: Possible All Star Game skills competition?) They came face-to-face just four times, pitcher against batting pitcher, ending in three strikeouts and a pop up to left. So it’s not as though the two directly competed as equals. Only indirectly. Santana battled Strasburg’s friends, Strasburg battled Santana’s, and one pitcher’s friends played better. That’s not really a duel in the Hamilton-Burr sense. More like a duel in the dead-’90s-rapper sense, a duel in a loose sense. Maybe we just need a better name for these things: Pitchers’ showcase? Pitchers’ exhibition? Pitcherspolooza? Continue reading

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2014 Mets Power Rankings: Pre-Opening Day

So, after some reflection, I believe I’ve come up with the actual philosophy behind these rankings. What I’m really getting after is this: If you were an expansion team set to play in 2014 with the sole goal being to field a competitive team in 2014 – that is, you care about 2014 and nothing else – and you can only pick current Mets players, whom would you take and in what order? The only other limitation being that the player must be under team control in 2014. That’s the idea here. Young players and prospects.

That’s the guiding philosophy. So some of the movements in this edition of the rankings are due to a fuller realization of the philosophy. And some come from spring training observations and performance. And some come just because. Continue reading

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