April 18, 2011
Maybe Things Aren’t Quite so Bad for the Mets

All it takes is one win, and I’m down off the ledge. The fact is, the Mets are nearly certain to play better in their next 8 games (and most stretches of 8 games this season) than they did in these past 8. 

There are still reasons to think the Mets can turn this around. The pitching will simply not be this bad all season. If Jon Niese, Chris Capuano and Mike Pelfrey have ERA’s of 6.88, 7.53 and 1 billion (Pelfrey), you have to imagine they will not be in the rotation for the whole season. Angel Pagan is not going to hit .169 this season and if Brad Emaus hit .162, he will be replaced with someone who can hit higher than .162. Jason Bay should be back soon, as will Ronny Paulino, improving the offense and the bench. 

Currently, nobody on this team, save Willie Harris, is playing a lot better than you could expect them to over the course of the season. Jose Reyes has been very good, but not out of the Reyesphere. Ike Davis has also hit very well, but it’s not like an .848 OPS is out of the question for Ike. Besides, he’s only hit one home run. I’m guessing he’ll end up with more than the 10 dingers he’s currently on pace for. None of David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Josh Thole or Daniel Murphy have played particularly well. 

But there are more reasons to be hopeful than luck turning the Mets way. Jose Reyes, after failing to draw a walk in his first 7 games (which I can only imagine led to walks-obsessed Sandy Alderson putting out a contract on Jose’s life), has walked 4 times in his last nine game. Reyes has been fantastic. To my eyes, his defense has been pretty good, and he’s stolen 6 bases without being caught. Also worth noting: Angel Pagan has the 4th highest walk-rate among CFs, and Ike Davis has continued drawing walks at an excellent rate. Don’t be fooled by the record, Mets fans: This is not an ultimately sunk ship.

There are also rays of sunlight peaking from the minor league system, particularly in the forms of pitchers Matt Harvey, Jennry Mejia, Jeurys Familia and Brad Holt. I keep wanting to refer to these guys at Generation K V. 2.0, the healthier, more Dominican and just as tough to spell sequel, but then I realize that’s a bad idea and…well. Harvey has dominated A+, as has Familia. Mejia has pitched very well in AAA and Brad Holt, once a top prospect whose career has fallen apart, has pitched 12 shutout innings at AA.  This begs the question, “What if the Mets had a bunch of good pitching prospects.” Combined with Jon Niese and Dillon Gee, the Mets all of a sudden just might have a crop of good young arms. Go figure.

To be certain, there is bad news too. David Wright, after looking more like the David Wright of 2007 for the first few games, now looks like the David Wright who strikes out every other at bat. Bobby Parnell looks horrible and of course, the starting pitching is a mess. But that’s no reason to assess the situation as dire. The future still looks brighter than the present, and the present still looks brighter than the past.

9:08am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/Z0y3Xy4PC1rq
Filed under: new york mets 
April 14, 2011
Carlos Delgado - Great Teammate, Clubhouse Cancer, Good at Hitting Baseballs Long Distances

Carlos Delgado hit his 400th home run as a Met. That was awkward. Carlos Delgado hit the first 369 of his home runs playing for other teams, so the accomplishment didn’t really mean anything to me, or other Mets fans. But, much like with Tom Glavine’s 300th win and Rey Ordonez’s 500th weak pop-up, teams feel obligated to celebrate their player’s achievements, so they made a big deal out of it. Awkward. 

Delgado is now officially retired (or he was convicted of a crime relating to something called steroids…I’m having trouble remembering which muscular baseball-playing gentleman recently did what) and I bring up that 400 home run thing up because it is just one of the many oddities that occurred during Carlos Delgado’s time with the Mets. 

First, before he even arrived, in 2005 the Mets tried to sign Delgado as a free agent. He did not sign and publicly said that he disliked Omar Minaya’s appeal to him specifically as a fellow Hispanic. This may have been the genesis of the “Mets only want Hispanic players,” conspiracy theory, which would have been laughable if it didn’t carry with it the very real undertones racial resentment (how dare the Mets take jobs from hard-working white folks like Jeff Franceour!).

The Mets then traded for Delgado, which must have been kind of weird, but baseball being a business, everyone seems to have gotten over it. In addition to perhaps starting what would become the most racially charged talk-radio topic of the Minaya era, Delgado had also drawn criticism because he didn’t stand during “God Bless America,” in Yankee Stadium, which is apparently treason. See Carlos didn’t like the American wars in Iraq in Afghanistan — just like many other people — nor did he like his home country, Puerto Rico, being used for bombing practice by the U.S. military. So he chose not to stand for “God Bless America,” a relatively tame response. This may have been the most outrageous thing anyone has ever done. I specifically remember, both on talk radio and among people I knew, phrases like “disrespectful to the people who died on 9/11” being thrown around, because for some reason baseball and terrorism have become all mixed up in our heads. Delgado eventually agreed to stand for the song, because otherwise the very fabric of democracy would’ve crumbled. Later, he would win the Robert Clemente Award, named after his childhood hero, for being baseball’s most charitable dude. This is nothing to be proud of. Robert Clemente and Carlos Delgado are communists. 

When actually on the Mets. Delgado seemed to hit very, very well. But short of his home run and RBI totals, his numbers look very ordinary for a 1B. OPS’s of .909, .781, and .871? Albert Puljos and Miguel Cabrera want you to know they find those numbers laughable. But I’ll always believe Delgado’s contribution was bigger than that. He was a presence. The big dude cerebrally writing in that little notebook of his. His fist-pump, down-then-up, after a big double plays symbolizes the last time the Mets were good. And those home runs? Man, those were home runs. That dude could hit the ball really, really far. Even early in 2009, when nobody else could regularly get the ball out of Citi Field, Carlos had four homer before succumbing to injury. No park could contain him. 

These were clutch homers, too. At least I think so. I’m not sure what clutch is, nor am I sure my memory isn’t lying to me. But it feels like every time the Mets were trailing in 2008, there was Carlos Delgado, powering them back with an epic blast worthy of Mike Piazza. His resurrection from washed up to MVP candidate within that season was nothing short of miraculous. Back in 2006, when the rest of the Mets seemed a bit tepid in the NLDS against Los Angeles, Delgado was there, relishing his first playoff appearance and tearing the cover off the ball.

If you read this blog at all, you know I like to use Wins Above Replacement to determine a player’s value. But in this case, forget Delgado’s WAR of 3.2, 1.6 and 3 for the Mets. He was better than that. A lot better.

Another curious thing about Delgado’s time here was how he was viewed. Originally, the general impression of Carlos was that of soothing veteran influence, embracer of cosmopolitan New York and best friend to Carlos Beltran, whose bounce-back 2006 Delgado was often partially credited for. But a funny thing happened later, as the team got worse and worse. Now, Delgado was surly and reclusive. Writing in that notebook, rather than a sign he was a student of the game, meant he was aloof, more interested in his individual performance than being a good teammate. When he was officially no longer a Met after the 2009 season, lots of words were expounded on how the Mets could now turn the page from veterans like Delgado and get his bad influence out of the clubhouse. This would return the Mets to glory. We’re still waiting.

So which Carlos was the real one? Was he a terrible teammate who disrespected the dead and was, over the course of his Mets career, a slightly above average 1B? Or was he a veteran presence in the clubhouse, a devastating middle of the order presence, clutch hitter and a person with political views, just as valid as anyone else’s? I think you know where I stand. 

April 14, 2011
Billions Needlessly Go Without Keanu Reeves

As if their total lack of a open, democratic Government, and fear of arbitrary arrest wasn’t bad enough for the Chinese, now they’ll have to do without Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and its star, the ever-charismatic Keanu Reeves. Yes, in its never-ending quest to keep their citizens from rebelling against oppression in the name of Keanu, China has gone too far: “The latest guidance on television programming from the State Administration of Radio Film and Television in China…discourages plot lines that contain elements of ‘fantasy, time-travel’”

So there’s that. And just as another Bill and Ted movie might be on the way. I weep for you China. 

April 14, 2011
Because Why the Hell Not

9:39am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/Z0y3Xy4IaluT
Filed under: new york knicks 
April 13, 2011

whoplaysthemamba asked: Love the Blog, great analysis, keep it up. Metsblog seems to have fallen off now that Cerrone is closer to them team. Any other sources of Mets info you would recommend?

Thanks whoplaysthemamba. Not to go crazy with media criticism, but I have a lot of friends who also find themselves recently dissatisfied with Metsblog. Here, I have to go against my institution-doubting nature and come to his defense (be cause that guy totally needs me to have his back, otherwise his site might fold tomorrow).

You just have to know what you’re getting into if you’re going to read that site, which I obviously do. Cerrone isn’t some random dude sitting in his house, blogging about the team when he feels like it. (I am. So please, tell your friends). But Cerrone is, in many ways, the modified, 2011 version of the institutional media. This upsets people, like their favorite underground band going mainstream and hitting top 40 radio (Sidebar: does radio still exist?). Take this recent NY Times article about the political bloggers who rose to prominence during the middle part of the last decade (Ezra Klein, Matt Yglesias, etc.) and their integration into the mainstream media. Now those guys have access and write under fancy mastheads. So naturally, there’s a backlash. But those political bloggers, even as insiders, are better than the mainstream media figures who they’ve augmented and usurped, just like Cerrone, no matter how much access he gets, is still far better than what you’ll find in the Post and the Daily News.

As for who else to read…

Amazin Avenue is, in my view, the best mix of Mets analysis and newsier stuff out there, and an essential part of any Mets fans day…well, provided the Mets fan in question spends entirely too much time on the Internet. Their daily linkdump is where I generally find new blogs.

Also, at SNY, Ted Berg’s blog is fantastic, as is Patrick Flood’s. And Mets Minor League Blog has rescued us from the dark ages of getting all our information about Mets prospects from blurbs in the newspaper. 

I also enjoy Mets Fever, Faith and Fear in Flushing and OnTheBlack

Hope that helps.

4:03pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/Z0y3Xy4HNVZY
Filed under: new york mets blogs 
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