Welcome back to baseball, Mets Fans!
After the euphoric 2015 campaign, we went into 2016 with high hopes, only to come crashing down as Connor Gillaspe became this generation’s Mike Scioscia in the Wild-Card game. But even with all the injuries that almost derailed the 2016 season, we knew 2017 couldn’t possible be as bad. We were getting back Zack Wheeler and the pleasant surprises of 2016, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, would provide pitching depth. Hell, we had so many starting pitchers now, we let Big Sexy, Bartolo Colon, go.
Instead, 2017 was worse, much worse.
Noah Syndergaard, who was going to be the NL Cy Young in 2017, was gone after just 30 innings. Matt Harvey, returning from Thorcic Outlet Syndrome, was suspended because he broke up with his girlfriend and lost his ability to pitch at this level. Michael Conforto injured his shoulder just swinging the bat. We lost our closer, Jeuyrs Familia to a blood clot and Yoenis Cespedes only played half a season (81 games). Instead of saying “Brruuuccceeeee” for Jay Bruce, fans were booing him and he was traded at the deadline. So was Lucas Duda. The unbelievable depth at starting pitching the Mets had during spring training dissipated before our eyes day after day. Steven Matz was awful before finally being shut down. Wheeler finally came back from his 2015 Tommy John surgery after missing all of 2016 and started promisingly, but he had to be shutdown in July after a “stress reaction”. By the time the season was over, guys like Tommy Malone, Tyler Pill and Adam Wilk were starting games.
So after a 92 loss season miserable came to an end, heads just had to roll, starting with Terry Collins, Dan Warthen and some of the other coaches. Then the medical staff was axed. With a depleted farm system, the Mets need a lot of help at a lot of different positions and don’t have a lot of bullets left in the chamber. What’s a GM to do?
Although 2018 can’t possibly be as bad as 2017, wasn’t that what we all thought about the 2017 season after the debacle of 2016?
But this time it just feels different.
Sandy Alderson went out and got a quality manager that plays to his team’s strength – starting pitching. Mickey Callaway, who had never managed at any level, takes over for Collins. His area of expertise is pitching, a huge need for this organization. For the first time, the Mets have a skipper that not only was a pitcher, but understands the mechanics and the psyche of pitching. One of the biggest complaints every Mets fan had last year, outside of injuries, was how Collins and Warthen were mishandling the pitching staff.
While the bandwagon Mets fans were howling about the off-season activity of that other NY team in the Bronx (like Stanton was really going to come to the Mets), Alderson was slowly filling the numerous pot-holes that have been derailing the Mets wheel alignment for years.
With the uncertainly of the return of Conforto, he went out and signed back Jay Bruce, who he traded to Cleveland for relief pitcher Ryder Ryan in 2017. Now the Mets don’t have to rush Conforto back and Bruce should be able to provide 30+ homer runs for an offense that is going to once again rely on the home run.
Worried about Dominic Smith at 1B? So was Alderson, so he signed Adrian Gonzalez to hold down the fort and tutor Smith, who reported to training camp 30 pounds lighter and ready to learn.
Although it tugs at our heartstrings, it’s time to stop waiting for David Wright to make it back. Alderson plugged a huge hole by signing Todd Frazier, a professional third baseman. The man can play the position, be a veteran leader in the clubhouse and hit 25-30 home runs. What’s not to like?
Anthony Swarzak will plug the Addison Reed hole in the bullpen. Except he throws 95 mph and is coming off the best season of his career, averaging 10.6 strikeouts per 9 innings. He appeared in 70 games (77 innings) and struck out 91. That gives the Mets a solid late inning bullpen with Swarzak, Jerry Blevins, AJ Ramos and Jeurys Familia.
What about the starters? Although only deGrom escaped the DL in 2017, there was only one lefty starter on the roster – Steven Matz. Alderson bides his time and then goes out and signs a guy who won 18 games last year, Jason Vargas. The soft tossing lefty could fill the hole left by Colon as a consistent, veteran that takes the ball every five days and gives you six or seven quality innings.
And all it cost was money. Not that the Met’s had anything to trade, but some of the other free agents out there come at the price of a draft choice and cash from their International pool. When your farm system is ranked 28th in baseball, you can’t afford to give those things away. This allowed Alderson to build up the roster depth the Mets sorely lacked last year, while not mortgaging the team’s future. None of these free agent deals is over two years long.
Time to see how all these new pieces come together as the first full squad workout begins on Monday. It just can’t be as bad as last year, right?
Paul DiSclafani is a featured writer on “A View From The Bench”, which has been recognized by Major League baseball as one of the top 100 blog sites.
It has already been some time. For most that means the luster may have left a little, the excitement has waned. Maybe a few have even forgotten those moments of despair and struggle throughout October that were eventually overcome. (That is unless you obsessively watch the video of every run the Astros scored in Game 5 of the World Series. That pivotal, roller coaster ride of the century.) It was a great time to be an Astros fan.
A lot has been said too about Houston Strong, about the summer that saw our city soaked to the bones and our World Series bound Astros forced from home. About how Harvey brought a city together, brought a team together to get past their struggles, to prevail. Houston has had their fair share of heartache and, Harvey aside, our sports teams have always struggled. Until now the only glorious rise to the top was limited to the spring times of ’94 and ’95 when Hakeem the Dream Olajuwon lifted the whole of Houston and all of his Rockets teammates upon his back and carried them to the promised land. (Some even believe that because Jordan wasn’t in the league that the ’94-’95 Rockets championships are tainted.) It was a city that was in a quasi sports purgatory. One that had celebrated great victories, great teams and even greater players, but by the grace of the sports gods always came up short. There is a reason that when H-town natives and fans hear the name Frank Reich they shudder and possibly convulse.
Something has always happened. In ’80 JR had a stroke, in ’86 the Mets clipped Hatcher’s heroics. Buddy Ryan punched Kevin Gilbride and the House of Pain became painful for Oiler fans. The Twin Towers came up short vs Bird. Renfro caught that ball but the refs stole that game for the Steel Curtain. The Chicago White Sox (had) swept the Astros in their only World Series appearance. Yao goes down vs LA. They are still looking for the ball Pujols hit off of Lidge. Joe Montana twice gunned Houston down, once with Notre Dame, once with Kansas City. Valvano makes a great story but Phi Slamma Jamma should have never lost that game. Even the Texans, in their most successful season to date, wore letterman jackets to a showdown in New England only to further show Houston sports needed more schooling. Always coming up short. Good enough to say we were close, not great enough to get past, Bad News Bears status, “Just wait until next year…”
That is until now.
When the final out was cast. When the ball was trapped by Altuve and thrown on the infield side of first base. When Yuli gripped that ball in the back of glove. When the Astros beat the Dodgers in the seventh game of the World Series. At that moment there was a weight lifted. Downtown Houston went from below sea level to 10 feet above. At that moment the demons of many Houston failures were let loose. They were gone. Tears flowed, minds exploded, hell froze over (Or at least got flooded from Harvey.) They had won it for Houston. And that also meant they won it for a lot more.
They won it for Mike Scott. For Jose Cruz and Nolan Ryan. For Glenn Davis, Daryl Kile and Craig Biggio. For Shane Reynolds and Jose’ Lima…..Ken Caminiti, Enos Cabell, Richard Hidalgo, Craig Reynolds, Joe Neikro, JR Richard, Sean Berry, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Hampton, Jim Deshaies, Julio Lugo, Gene Elston, Daryl Ward, Octavio Dotel, even Randy Johnson. It was for Larry Dierker, Ricky Gutiérrez, Phil Garner, Terry Puhl, Luis Gonzales, Mark Portugal, Lance Berkman, Art Howe, Roy Oswalt, Cesar Cedeno, Mike Lamb, Billy Wagner, Tim Bogar, Charlie Kerfeld, Scott Elarton, Kirk Saarloos, Buddy Bell, Casey Candeale, Matt Galante, and Brad Lidge. It was for Joe Morgan and Jimmy Wynn, Bud Norris, Jed Lowrie, Moises Alou, Dickie Thon, Brad Ausmus, Don Wilson, Hunter Pence, Miguel Tejada, Bill Spires, Luke Scott, Joaquín Andújar, Chad Qualls, Jason Lane, Bob Knepper and Bob Watson. For Alan Ashby, Eric Bruntlet, Tony Eusibio, Rafael Ramirez, Bill Doran, Pete Incaviglia Carlos Lee, Jeff Kent, Kevin Bass, Bob Aspromonte, Larry Anderson, Danny Darwin, Steve Finley and Derek freaking Bell. For Adam Everett, Wandy Rodriguez, Doug Henry, Curt Schilling, Morgan Ensberg, Carl Everett, Denny Walling, Wade Miller, Geoff Blum, Milo Hamilton, Bobby Abreu, Brandon Backe, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Rusty Staub, Roy Hofeinz, Don Wilson, Bill Virdon, Tal Smith, Doug Rader, Hal Lanier, Joe Sambito, Dave Smith, and Billy Freaking Hatcher. For Pete Harnisch, Chris Burke, Aubrey Huff, Willy Taveras, and Michael Bourn.
It was for Dan Pastorini. For Bum Phillips, For Earl Campbell and Carl Mauck. For Mike Renfro, Bruce Matthews, Haywood Jeffries, Ken Stabler and Warren Moon. For Lorenzo White, Greg Bingham, Dave Casper and Coach Glanville. For White Shoes Johnson, Elvin Bethea, Kenny Borrough and Vernon Perry. For Cris Dishman, Earnest Givens and Lamar Lathon. For Drew Hill, Ray Childress and Jack Pardee. Alonso Highsmith, Mike Rozier, Alan Pinket, Sean Jones and Ray Childress. For Mike Munchak and Eugene Seale. Mike Barber, Cody Carlson and Robert Brazile. Giff Nielsen, Will Fuller and Al Smith.
It was for every member of the Houston Cougars Phi Slamma Jamma.
It was even for Tracy Mcgrady, James Harden and Yao Ming. For Carl Herrera and Ralph Sampson, For the Dream and Drexler…….
It was for the current Astros roster. The one that sweated three years of 100+ losses. That weathered a switch to the AL, Hurricane Harvey, and won in spite of Bud Selig. It was for a city that has taken so much disappointment in stride. It was for people tearing out the walls in their houses while listening to the game. It was for the world, but most of all it was for us, the Houston fans. For all the heartbreak. The champions. Thank you Houston Astros. Thank you!
By Paul DiSclafani
Tim Tebow has hit in 11 straight games since his promotion to Single “A” St. Lucie. He just hit his first ever walk-off home run on Thursday after hearing many of major leaguers throw him compliments at the All-Star game on Tuesday.
This is not one of those “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once and a while” stories anymore. Unlike basketball great Michael Jordan, who tried baseball for a year and gave up after hitting just .202 with 114K in 436 AB’s, Tebow is – dare I say it? – actually getting better.
In a small sample of 16 games in St. Lucie, Tebow is hitting .327 with 2 2B, 3 HR and 10 RBI. His OBP of .421 is not bad at all. But the most surprising statistic is he has just 9K in 49 AB’s.
Understand that the Mets are not going to be promoting Tebow in September this year. In order to be promoted to the Majors after the rosters expand, the player must be on the 40-man roster. Tebow is currently NOT on the Mets 40-man roster and knowing how Sandy Alderson operates, he is not removing anyone anytime soon to accommodate Tebow. We can’t even get him to promote Amed Rosario who IS on the 40-man roster.
But what happens if Tebow continues to improve in Class “A”? What happens if he gets another promotion before the season is over to “AA”?
He’s no spring chicken, you know. The Mets need to consider accelerating his progress through the different levels of their organization if they feel he has a chance to make it to The Show before he retires.
Tebow was given a chance many minor leaguers don’t get when he appeared in a few games with the Big Club during Spring training. Now he has continued to reward the Mets organization as a model player who is beloved by teammates and fans alike, while showing actual improvement on the field.
By Paul DiSclafani
First the Mets placed 2B-Neil Walker on the 10-Day DL with a partially torn left hamstring. No surprise there if you saw Walker pull up lame running down to first last night against the Cubs. Also, no chance he is back after 10 days.
When Matt Harvey left the game after throwing just 58 pitches, one of them landing over the Shea Bridge courtesy of Kyle Schwarber, you knew something was wrong, it was just a matter of what. Arm fatigue? Soreness? Hang-Nail?
Following the game, Harvey lamented that “My arm was just not working at all. I think the last time I threw an 87 mph fast ball was in high school.”
Sure enough, turns out after an MRI and a CAT SCAN, he has a stress injury to the scapula bone in his right shoulder. He is going to miss several weeks. Hope the Mets don’t have one of those Obama Exchange plans because these tests must be costing them a fortune.
The Mets said that both Harvey and Walker received a PRP injection. Walker can begin rehab immediately after receiving the injection, but Harvey cannot begin until he is pain free. Neither is expected back for several weeks.
At a press conference today, general manager Sandy Alderson also said that Noah Syndergaard will not even throw a baseball for at least the next four weeks, meaning it will take a number of weeks after that to begin building up any arm strength. Mets are not expecting to see Syndergaard back with the Big Club until late August.
And oh yeah, The Nationals are coming into town tonight for a four game weekend series.
By Paul DiSclafani
Mets fans aren’t blind to what is happening. In the supposed words of Yogi Berra, “it gets late early out here”. We are only 55 games into the 162-game season, just about one-third of the way there, and at a season high of seven games under .500 (24-31), when is it no longer too early to worry? Even our beloved Mr. Met is having a breakdown.
Obviously the Spring Training plan of riding our starting pitching is shot to hell. The Jose Reyes resurgence has been a bust. Injuries to Lucas Duda and the sudden defensive liability of Asdrubal Cabrera have hastened the talk of promoting AAA rookies SS-Amed Rosario and 1B-Dominic Smith.
Three players that nobody was counting on in March have become their only reliable players – Michael Conforto, Jay Bruce and Zach Wheeler.
And the injuries to the top players have been devastating. The best offensive player on the roster, Yoenis Cespedes, has been out since April 28th with what was initially diagnosed as a “quad strain”. His 10-day stint on the DL has lasted 40 days. Two days later, the best starting pitcher on the roster, Noah Syndergaard, left his start against Washington and won’t be back until August – and that’s being optimistic, something the Mets fans have learned to never be.
9 days later, the best closer, Jeruys Familia, blew a save against the San Francisco Giants and he ended up on the DL and will be out for the season – and that’s optimistic.
In a period of two weeks, just six weeks into the season, the Mets lost players that would be ranked in the top 10 of their respective positions – offensive player, starting pitcher and closer. How do you recover from that? Who has the kind of depth to replace your top offensive player, your Ace starter and your closer, who saved over 100 games over the last two seasons?
How is this team not 17 games under .500? And the way the games have been going, why does it seems they should be 10 games over .500? The Mets bullpen has had 33 save opportunities in the first 55 games, but just 12 saves. Do we really need to rehash how overworked the bullpen has been because we can’t get the starting pitching to even come out of the dugout in the seventh inning?
It is still a little premature to write off the last 67% of the season, but there is a limit to our patience. I’d like to suggest that we wait until June 25th to officially give up on this season. You can wait another 20 or so games, can’t you?
Starting on Thursday (June 8), the Mets begin a stretch of playing 18 games in 17 consecutive days, including a West Coast road trip. Beginning on June 12, they will play 11 straight games against some of the top teams – the World Champion Cubs (3 games), our own Division Leading Washington Nationals (36-20) for four games and then travel to play the 35-24 LA Dodgers four times.
Is it realistic that by the time June 12 rolls along, the Mets are within striking distance of .500? Until then, they have two games against the Rangers and four against the Braves. 4-2 only gets them to 28-33 (five games below), so is 5-1 unreasonable to get them to 29-32 heading into that brutal 11-game stretch?
Do we shoot for breaking even against the best teams in the National League at 5-6 or 6-5? 6-5 gets us to 35-37 with 90 games left. I’ll do the math for you, that means a run of 11 wins in 17 games. Does this team have that in them?
During that time, the Mets are expected to get some pitching help as Stephen Matz and Seth Lugo return to make their season debuts. Cespedes may be back. Now that they have passed the ridiculous Rule 2 time-frame for rookies that establishes their first year of free-agent eligibility, maybe we see Rosario and/or Smith sooner rather than later.
Everyone likes to play amateur General Manager, so here’s my two cents:
- Give Lugo / Matz two starts and once we are comfortable, send Matt Harvey down to the minors to work out his issues. We can’t have the inconsistency or drama here at the major league level if we think we can contend. Wheeler, deGrom, Gsellman, Lugo, Matz are the starters.
- If you’re against sending Harvey down, send Gsellman to the bullpen to be our insurance policy for Matz/Lugo
- Release Reyes, promote Rosario and let Flores play 3B full time. That gives us a veteran switch-hitting bat off the bench, Cabrera that can spell Walker and/or Flores. Flores can also spell Duda at First.
- Cespedes to left, Conforto to center, Bruce stays in right. Granderson to the bench
- One more injury to Duda and you bring up Smith
- Stop overworking Edgin, Salas, Smoker, Reed in the bullpen. Have Gilmartin and Seawald be your long relievers. Send Robles and Harvey down. We already know that Plawecki can pitch in a blowout.
- Stop making pitch counts the reason to take pitchers out of a game and use your head. Let pitchers start the next inning, but be ready if they falter.
I’m rooting for them, are you? If not, do I really have to start paying attention to what is going on in the JETS training Camp?
By Paul DiSclafani
The hits just keep on coming in this disaster of a start to the 2017 season for the Mets.
Mets closer Jeurys Familia was diagnosed with an “arterial clot” in his right shoulder and is headed to St. Louis to see Dr. Robert Thompson for further tests. Thompson is the same surgeon that operated on Matt Harvey for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
Familia, who has pitched in just 11 games this season after serving a 15-game suspension at the start of the season, has just three saves. Familia was charged with his first blown save of the season after surrendering four runs (three earned) to the Giants on Wednesday afternoon, failing to protect a 3-2 lead in a game the Mets eventually lost, 6-5.
Former Mets pitcher David Cone had a similar blood clot issue in his arm pit in 1996 and missed four months following surgery.
Familia had pitched just 9.2 innings in his 11 appearances, and was pulled by Manager Terry Collins twice already this year. He has 8 walks to go along with his 10 strikeouts.
By Paul DiSclafani
“Matt Harvey has been suspended for three days without pay for a violation of team rules and has been sent home,” Anderson said.
Alderson would not disclose the nature of the violation. Terry Collins would only say that the Mets were “keeping it in-house”.
Adam Wilk was called up from AAA Las Vegas to take Harvey’s spot in today’s game against the Miami Marlins.
On Friday, a picture of TJ Rivera was published by the Mets on their Social Media pages of him smiling and wearing the “crown” as the Mets player of the game. In the background, there appeared to be a large, black dildo in the locker of teammate Kevin Plawecki. The photo was immediately removed, cropped and reposted. Plawecki insisted he was innocent and had no idea how it got there or, more importantly, who might have put it there.
Maybe the Mets found out and then suspended Harvey? It’s a three game suspension, so Harvey will miss only one start no matter what the reason.