Act 2 of Post Domestic Violence Reyes

In an interview with Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, Jose Reyes said all of the right things.  He spoke about how his actions were inexcusable and how he wants to be a better man.  After what must have been trying year for both him and his family, Reyes ultimately stated, “You can go through the process and realize what you need to do.  I think it helped me to be become a better husband, father and man.”

There is no reason to question the veracity of Reyes’ statements or question his improvement as a husband, father, or man.  Reyes and his family are the best arbiters of that.  From a fan standpoint, all we can hope is that those statements prove to be true.

While we know many acts of domestic violence remain unreported, there is some comfort there were not repeat incidents . . . at least known incidents.  The comfort may be naive, but it could also be the truth of the matter.  We simply don’t know at this point.

What we do know is that he has served his time, and he has gone through the requisite treatment prescribed by Major League Baseball.  On the surface, it at least appears he came out better for it, which is all you want both as a fan and a human being.

On the field, he is going to be an important part of the Mets.  With David Wright still not having thrown the ball, and no one knowing how many games he can play, it appears Reyes will be the Mets third baseman for much of the year.  He’s also going to be the primary backup option for Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera.  Furthermore, with him learning center field during Spring Training, he could help spell Curtis Granderson in center.  Overall, while Reyes is projected to be a utility player, he really could wind up playing everyday.  He could be the most important player on the roster.

To that end, as Mets fans we all hope he has a successful season.  More importantly, we hope he continues what appears to be significant progress with his family.

In 2017, more than anything, I am rooting for Reyes both on and off the field.

Americas Past Time May Become New York’s Sport

The greatest player, Babe Ruth, built his legend in New York.  Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in New York.  We still wax poetic about Willie, Mickey, and the Duke.

New York is the home of some of the greatest games ever played.  Bobby Thompson hit the shot heard round the world, and Mookie Wilson hit a little dribbler up the first base line.

Teams that are based in New York have won 35 World Series.  This is the most amount of championships belonging to any city in any sport.

Despite the largely debunked story about the origins of baseball, the Baseball Hall of Fame was built and placed in Cooperstown, New York.  Naturally, New York teams have the most amount of Hall of Famers.

If baseball is American’s Past Time then New York is its heart and soul.  And yet, it took a class of fourth graders from Cooperstown to make the case baseball should be the official sport of the State of New York.

In a report from The Citizen, Ms. Anne Reis’ fourth grade class did the research and made the case that baseball should be the official sport of New York as part of a lesson on official New York State designations.  They provided their findings to their local state senator Jim Seward.

Seward has taken the information, and now he has proposed a bill in the legislature to designate baseball as the official sport of New York.  Such efforts should thrill baseball fans everywhere.  Undoubtedly, it was a special moment for Ms. Reis’ class.

Upon her now former students hearing the news, Ms. Reis said, “”They’re thrilled.  They’re in fifth grade at this point, so I went downstairs and went to all the different classrooms and let them know what had happened.”

Hopefully, this designation will become official.  We all know how important baseball is to the state.  We need not look any further than the importance of Mike Piazza‘s home run in the first game back in New York after the terror attacks of 9/11.  Baseball matters, and it matters more in New York than anywhere.

These kids know that, and they did something about it.  These children accomplished something by putting in the requisite time and research.  It’s a testament to them, and it is a good example for people everywhere.

Trivia Friday – Most Mets Starts Since 2011

With the Mets trying to decide what to do with pitchers like Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, it is likely the Mets are going to need both of them to make starts at different parts of the year as no team goes through the season with just five starters.  To that end, the Mets have used 31 pitchers since Sandy Alderson took over as general manager.

Can you name the Mets pitchers who have made the most starts in that stretch?  Good luck!


Jon Niese Dillon Gee Bartolo Colon Matt Harvey Jacob deGrom R.A. Dickey Noah Syndergaard Zack Wheeler Mike Pelfrey Jeremy Hefner

The Case for Seth Lugo As The Fifth Starter

With many analyzing who should be the fifth starter, there seems to be two camps emerging.  The first camp believes Zack Wheeler should be the fifth starter.  The main basis for this argument, and it is a compelling one, is his 12 start stretch from July 6th – September 7th, 2004 where he was 7-1 with a 2.28 ERA, 1.213 WHIP, and an 8.9 K/9.  Understandably, many believe Wheeler can return to this form.  If so, he is a natural choice for the fifth starter.

The second camp believes Robert Gsellman should be the fifth starter.  Gsellman has vaulted up many top prospect lists due to the stuff he showed at the end of last season.  Like Wheeler, Gsellman was throwing 95 MPH.  Like many young Mets starters, he showed a developing slider.  Unlike Wheeler, Gsellman had the opportunity to pitch in September games that mattered.  With the Mets needing all the wins they could get, he was 4-2 with a 2.42 ERA, 1.276 WHIP, and an 8.5 K/9.  There is every reason to believe the 22 year old can build on this success, and as a result, he should be the fifth starter.

The Mets are justified in going in either direction, and yet, perhaps, the Mets should go in a different direction.  For a multitude of reasons, the Mets should start the year with Seth Lugo in the Opening Day rotation.

The biggest argument you can make for Lugo in the rotation is his curveball.  There has been much written about it this offseason because it could very possibly be the best curveball in the game, at least if you use spin rate metrics.  His curveball naturally belongs on a staff that features some of the best pitches in baseball from Noah Syndergaard‘s fastball to Matt Harvey‘s slider to Jacob deGrom‘s change-up.  And yet, Lugo is more than a curveball.  He has a fastball he can throw as high as 97 MPH if the situation merits.  Like Gsellman, he is improving his slider.

He used this repertoire to pitch extremely well despite extremely difficult circumstances.  With the Mets fighting for the Wild Card, and him not having pitched more than three innings since May, he was thrust into the starting rotation.  Despite those hurdles, Lugo was 5-1 with a 2.68 ERA, 1.149 WHIP, and a 5.6 K/9 as a starter.  With Lugo being put in a better position next season, with him using his curveball more, and him further developing his slider, he promises to be an even better in 2017.

The obvious question is whether he would be a better option than Wheeler or Gsellman.  Arguably, even if Lugo isn’t better, perhaps he should be in the Opening Day rotation anyway.

Based upon the Mets handling of Harvey, the team is likely going to want to limit him somewhere between 160 – 180 innings last year.  Given his not having pitched in two years, there is a real debate if Wheeler can do even that.  Even assuming he can pitch that long, assuming he averages six innings per start, that’s only 27-30 starts.  This would leave the Mets needing to find approximately five more starts.

Then there is Gsellman.  If you subscribe to the Verducci effect, 30 more innings would mean Gsellman’s cap is 189.2 innings.  If he averages six innings per start, he would come close to lasting a full season.  With that said, the Mets would still probably need to find a few more spot starts.  That is even more the case if the Mets plan on using Gsellman in the postseason rotation.

Lugo can take the brunt of these starts to begin the season.  This would permit the Mets to ease Gsellman or Wheeler into the rotation a month or two into the season.  This would allow the Mets to allow either Gsellman or Wheeler to enter the rotation without having to be concerned about their innings.

As for Lugo, he could then move to the bullpen thereby giving the Mets another potentially dominant late inning reliever.  And, if needed, we already know the Mets can rely on him for a spot starter if needed.

Ultimately, the best case scenario for the Mets would be to start the year with Lugo in the rotation.  And who knows?  Based off of what we saw with him last year, he may prove to be the best option for the rotation for the entire season.

Zack Wheeler Could Be Great In The Bullpen

During Terry Collins‘ first Spring Training press conference, he overtly stated Zack Wheeler is a starting pitcher.  With the Mets publicly considering using Wheeler in the bullpen, at least to start the season, Collins’ statements reminded me of how Bobby Valentine once held a similar opinion about Jason Isringhausen.

Back in 1999, the Mets were using Isringhausen, who had a litany of injuries and surgeries at that point, increasingly out of the bullpen.  It was a natural fit for him with his having only made six major league starts over a two year period.   And yet, Valentine preferred using Isringhausen in the rotation, as only Valentine could so eloquently put it, putting Isringhausen in the bullpen is like “us[ing] an Indy car as a taxi in New York City.”  (New York Daily News).

As we know Isringhausen would be moved later that season in the ill-fated and ill-conceived trade for Athletics closer Billy TaylorAs an Athletic, Isringhausen would work exclusively out of the bullpen.  From there, he would become an All Star closer amassing 300 career saves.

Given the relative injury histories, the reluctance to put the pitchers in the bullpen, and the hope both pitchers carried with them as part of future super rotations, the Wheeler-Isringhausen comparisons are unavoidable.

To that end, it is important to note one of the supposed issues with Isringhausen in the bullpen was his control.  This is certainly understandable given his career 1.520 WHIP and 4.0 BB/9 as a starter.  And yet, when moved to the bullpen, and allowed to focus on his two best pitches, Isringhausen dramatically cut down on the hits and walks.  As a result, the things that made people believe he was a dominant starter came into focus as he became a dominant closer.

The consistently noted fear with Wheeler in the bullpen is his control.  His 3.9 BB/9 is similar to what Isringhausen’s was as a starter even if his 1.339 WHIP is considerably better.  It should also be noted Wheeler struck out more batters than Isringhausen did as a starter.  That is probably because Wheeler’s pure stuff is probably better than Isringhausen’s.  According to Brooks Baseball, Wheeler’s fastball sits in the mid 90s and he has a slider that almost hits 90.

Understandably, with Isringhause and Wheeler being different pitchers, the comparison may seem a bit contrived or imperfect.  With that said, we have seen how the Royals have transitioned pitchers with similar skill sets to Wheeler, and they converted them into dominant relievers.

Luke Hochevar was a struggling starter who gave up too many walks.  He was not having success in the rotation despite a low to mid 90s fastball and a high 80s cutter.  He was transitioned to the bullpen where he thrived.  Before showing the effects of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, he was dominant in 2013 going 5-2 with a 1.92 ERA, 0.825 WHIP, and a 10.5 K/9.

While the Royals didn’t try Greg Holland in the rotation, they saw how well his stuff played in the bullpen.  From 2011 – 2014, he was among the most dominant closers in all of baseball.  Over the stretch he was 15-9 with 113 saves, a 1.026 WHIP, and a 12.6 K/9.  Similar to Wheeler, Holland throws a mid to high 90s fastball and a slider in the high 80s.

Basically what we see in Isringhausen, Hochevar, and Holland is pitchers with great stuff can truly succeed in the bullpen.  Moreover, pitchers who have had control issues as starters can better harness their pitches by focusing one the two or maybe three pitches they throw best and work out of the stretch.  By focusing on what makes the pitcher great can, at times, led a pitcher down the path to greatness.  That is even in the event said greatness occurs out of the bullpen.

Given Wheeler’s past control issues, his not having pitched in two seasons, and the emergence of both Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, it might be an opportunity for the Mets to move Wheeler in the bullpen where he may truly thrive.  Of course, we won’t know that unless the Mets are willing to try.  At this point, given Collins’ statements, it appears the Mets are not quite at that point yet.  Maybe they should be.

Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Merized Online

Mets Themed Valentine’s Day

With today being Valentine’s Day, it is only right we get into the spirit of things by being as clever as Bobby Valentine was the time he used eye black to make a fake mustache.  Without further ado, here are some “clever” Mets themed Valentine’s Day lines you may see on one of those cards you used to pass out to your classmates in grammar school:

Jerry Blevins – Jerry?  Hello!  Be my Valentine

Josh Edgin – I’m Edgin my way closer to you.

Jeurys Familia – I want to become Familia with your sexy self.

Matt Harvey – If you thought 50 Shades of Grey was seductive, wait until you see the Dark Knight I have in store for you.

Seth Lugo – Lugo you want to get with this.

Rafael Montero – You might as well be my Valentine because we both know there’s not getting rid of me not matter how awful I am.

Addison Reed – You and Me Addison up to a great Valentine’s Day

Hansel Robles – You’re so hot right now

Fernando Salas – If I had to the same again, I would, my Valentine, Fernando

Josh Smoker – You’re so hot, I can see the Smoker from miles away

Noah Syndergaard – Can you handle this god’s thunder?

Yoenis Cespedes – There’s a lot of Potencia between you and I Valentine

Travis d’Arnaud – d’Arnaud it pains me to be apart from you

Lucas Duda – Duda right thing and be my Valentine

Wilmer Flores – I’ll cry if you put me in the Friends zone

Amed Rosario – Don’t Be Surprised Be Ready

Neil Walker – I would Walker 5,000 miles to be your Valentine

David Wright – It’s only Wright we would be Valentines

Jay Bruce – Let me be the Valentine you regret for years to come.

Michael Conforto – It’s a Conforto to know whether in NY or Vegas we’re Valentines

Curtis Granderson – It’s Grandy being your Valentine

Juan Lagares – You’re the only Juan for me

Brandon Nimmo – Nimmo I’m smiling because of you.

Ron Darling – Be my Darling this Valentine’s Day

Keith Hernandez – I mustache you to be my Valentine’s Day OR How about a Valentine’s Day mustache ride?

Happy Valentine’s Day

The Five Aces Still May Not Pitch in the Same Rotation

Well, it has finally happened.  With Pitchers and Catchers reporting, the Mets dream rotation all has major league experience, and they are all healthy at the same time.  For a fan base that never got to see Jason Isringhausen, Paul Wilson, and Bill Pulsipher all pitch together in the same rotation, this is no small event.

In fact, this is a momentous occasion where some demons can be slain, and yet, there is some debate over whether we will see each and every single one of these pitchers pitch in the same rotation:

Matt Harvey is coming off surgery to alleviate the symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS).  This surgery does not have the same history as Tommy John, so while there is always reason to believe in Harvey due to his drive and determination, there is some doubt as to how TOS will affect him in the future.

Jacob deGrom is coming off surgery to re-position his ulnar nerve.  As far as pitcher elbow surgeries, this is as easy as it gets.  And yet, whenever a pitcher gets elbow surgery, especially when that pitcher has once had Tommy John surgery, it gives you pause.

Steven Matz has pitched in the majors for parts of two seasons, and he was injury prone in both of those seasons.  Last season, it was a surgery to remove what was categorized as a massive bone spur.  Now that it is gone, he should be free and clear to resume being the pitcher we think he can be.  Still, he is one more injury away from us questioning if he, like Travis d’Arnaud, will ever be healthy.

Zack Wheeler has not taken the mound in over two seasons due to his Tommy John and his difficulties and setbacks during the rehabilitation process.  Fortunately, he seems ready to go, but he is at this point, we have no idea.

Noah Syndergaard has largely come through two seasons unscathed, and he has emerged as the staff ace.  And yet, with his being a pitcher, moreover his being a Mets pitcher, you hold your breath.  While you get excited about him adding muscle and his talk about wanting to throw harder, it should also give you some nervousness.

And yet despite all of these concerns and red flags, this is a great day.  The dream that was set in motion with the Carlos Beltran and R.A. Dickey trades is close to coming to fruition.  And with these five pitchers going to the mound, it is going to be extremely difficult for the opposition to out-pitch this quintet.  It is going to be even harder to beat the Mets when they take the mound.

At some point during the season, we will see all five of these pitchers in the rotation, and if we don’t that might be good news.  The reason?  Well, it could be because either Robert Gsellman or Seth Lugo won a job in the rotation, and they pitched well enough the Mets are loathe to move them out of the rotation.

If the Mets truly have seven pitchers capable of being in THIS starting rotation, the Mets should be primed for a great 2017 season.

Good Luck Gabriel Ynoa

Well somehow, someway, Rafael Montero has survived three years of uninspired pitching and two rounds of cuts from the 40 man roster to remain a New York Met.  He survived the second time because the Mets traded Gabriel Ynoa yesterday to the Orioles for cash considerations.  In Baltimore, Ynoa could conceivably join Logan Verrett in the Orioles starting rotation.  That’s right, Verrett, make that three rounds of cuts from the 40 man roster.

Ultimately, Verrett and Ynoa were traded because the Mets had a team, namely the Orioles, who was interested in their services.  When it comes to Ynoa, it is easy to ascertain why.

Ynoa has a mid to high 90s fastball, a good change-up, and an emerging slider.  For most of his minor league career, he showed good control and an ability to locate his pitches.  You could argue what he was as a pitcher.  To some, he was a back-end of the rotation guy.  To many, he had a promising career in the bullpen.  For those that truly believed in his talent, they could make a justifiable case he could emerge as a front of the rotation starter.  No matter what the opinion, the consensus was this guy was a major league talent.

Unfortunately, we did not get to see that in his limited time in a Mets uniform.  Having never been in a major league bullpen before, Ynoa struggled when thrust into the role.  After having been effectively shut down for the season, at least from the perspective of being a starting pitcher, Ynoa struggled in his few starts with the Mets.  Call it making excuses for the player, but he was a rookie put in an unenviable task.  Who knows?  Maybe if he was put in a real position to succeed, his stats would have been much better, and maybe the Mets move someone other than him.

And that is the real shame.  We never did get to see what Ynoa could truly be in a major league uniform.  Maybe he would have been a solid bullpen arm.  Maybe he was that guy who surprised you in the rotation.  Now, he can still be those things, but he will be those things in a Baltimore Orioles uniform.

And hopefully he will achieve all he is capable of with the Orioles.  It would be good for the Mets to show the prospects they are willing to move are capable of succeeding when it comes to future trade talks.  It is better for Ynoa who left his home at the age of 17 with the dreams of becoming a major leaguer.

Charles Oakley Deserved Better . . . We All Do

Having followed the Knicks this century, the events that transpired Thursday should have come as no surprise.  This organization seems to handle everything wrong whether it was everything related to Isaiah Thomas, including but not limited to the Anuka Brown Sanders sexual harassment, how they have handled everything related to Carmelo Anthony, and how they have run the front office.  Keep in mind, the one guy that showed the ability to navigate through all of this, Donnie Walsh, was first marginalized and then effectively shoved out the door.

The Charles Oakley incident is just the latest incident in what has been a series of missteps by this once proud and relevant organization.

It should now come as no surprise the Knicks have now banned Oakley from the Garden.  It should first be noted Oakley did his part.  Anytime you put your hands on a security guard, you have merited a lifetime ban.  Depending on who you believe, Oakley may have precipitated the ejection from the arena by heckling Dolan.  Oakley denies it, but who could blame him?  Things have been a mess.  What really stands out is how he was ejected.

Honestly, look how many people were there ready to have him ejected.  They seemingly brought out each and every security guard there to remove him from the game.  The Knicks made a spectacle before Oakley made a spectacle.

Let’s assume Oakley said nothing, but Dolan wanted him gone anyway due to their acrimonious relationship.  Apparently, Dolan was so upset by Oakley’s mere presence at the game, he was willing to have security remove him WHILE THE GAME WAS GOING ON!  He wanted him gone that badly.  He didn’t care if he was bothering the view of the fans nearby.  He didn’t care if he was distracting his team on the court.  He wanted Oakley gone no matter who was inconvenienced or distracted.

Now, let’s assume Oakley was heckling Dolan.  Why wouldn’t he?  The Knicks have been ineptly run for years now.  I’d be shocked if he wasn’t heckled throughout the Garden during most Knicks games.  He’s certainly earned it.  And you know what?  If he is that thin-skinned, he needs to sit up in an owner’s suite rather than down near the court.

Alas, he’s the owner, and it’s his prerogative.  Still, he has to be smarter, and he has to know this was not going to end well for anyone.  Knowing what we know of Oakley, there was no way he was leaving that game.  If that is the case, why not attempt to do it the right way anyway.  Phil Jackson was one of his coaches with the Bulls.  Former teammate Allan Houston is a member of the front office and routinely at games.  For that matter, many Knicks legends and former teammates attend the games.  They could have handled the situation better than Dolan did by having security surround him and escalate the situation.

Oakley is a Knicks legend and a fan favorite.  He should be treated as such.  He wasn’t.

This goes a long way towards explaining what has happened between the Knicks and Carmelo AnthonyThe team doesn’t seem to care about how it treats its stars, or in reality, even disrupting the team’s play.  The Garden seemingly picks its favorites, and those people are treated like gold and are untouchable.  It’s not surprising the Garden’s favorites do not align with how the fan’s favorites are.  Even less surprising is the fact that the Garden favorites have rarely, if ever, aligned with building a winning team.

We all deserve better from the Knicks.  More importantly, Charles Oakley did.  He’s banned for life, but we’re still stuck watching this nonsense.

On the bright side, Pitchers and Catchers report on Monday meaning we can all ignore the Knicks tomfoolery this Spring just like we have most seasons since Dolan has assumed control of the Knicks.

Trivia Friday – Appeared in Same Season as a Starterand a Reliever

As Pitchers and Catchers report on Monday, there is likely going to be a position battle for the fifth starter spot.  This spot once belonged to Zack Wheeler, but now given his having missed the past two seasons, his spot in the rotation is in jeopardy leaving him to fight for a spot in the rotation with two other pitchers.  Likely, the two pitchers who lose the fifth starters competition will wind up in the bullpen.  Given what the health has been for the Mets starting pitchers over the past two seasons, we will very likely see starters make relief appearances and relievers being forced to make a starter or two.

This practice has been fairly common ground during the Sandy Alderson Era.  Can you name the pitchers who have both started games and made relief appearance(s) for the Mets since 2011?  Good luck!


R.A. Dickey Mike Pelfrey Chris Capuano Dillon Gee Jon Niese D.J. Carrasco Miguel Batista Jeremy Hefner Chris Schwinden Shaun Marcum Carlos Torres Aaron Laffey Collin McHugh Jenrry Mejia Daisuke Matsuzaka Rafael Montero Bartolo Colon Sean Gilmartin Logan Verrett Noah Syndergaard Seth Lugo Robert Gsellman Gabriel Ynoa