Yesterday was a bad day. It was hot and humid. The air conditioning wasn’t working. There was just constant nonsense throughout the day. I needed a break and turned on the radio to hear about the baseball trade deadline. I figured it would help clear my head.
I started with Mike Francesa. If you are in your 30s and 40s, he’s always been on the air (except in the summer) discussing New York sports. He was in a commercial break. I then flipped to Hahn & Humpty. Originally, I thought, well this is a pleasant surprise. However, they weren’t focusing on baseball; they were discussing the first female coach in NFL history. Even as I sit here now, I know how important a story it was, but I wanted/needed to hear Mets trade rumors. Were the Mets going to rethink everything and go after Jose Reyes? Was the team actually going to put their money where their mouth was and actually spend some money at the trade deadline? Probably not as they never seem flush with cash like the other New York franchises.
I wasn’t getting what I wanted, and I had to let someone know about it. I went all “letter to the editor” on Alan Hahn. Not exactly my finest moment. At least some good came of it, as my mood began to change for the better. Later that night, I did tune into his show while I was watching Thor’s dominance, and he was talking football again. But you know what? He had to because Tom Brady’s four game suspension was upheld. It was the biggest news in sports yesterday. It wasn’t the first time the NFL dominated the headlines when baseball is in the middle of one of its peak news cycles. It won’t be the last time either.
That’s the problem. No matter what your opinion of Bud Selig is, he did have some positive impacts on the game of baseball. He navigated the cancellation of the 1994 World Series and oversaw a sport that saw improving and record attendance. It is all the more impressive when you keep in mind that this was during our Great Recession. He also grew the sport from a $1.8 billion revenue sport to a $9 billion revenue sport. Finally, we have enjoyed labor peace since 1994.
However, there are problems that arose during his tenure (I’m not focusing on steroids here – there is another time and place for that). We’ve seen the Baseball Game of the Week be shift from Fox to Fox Sports 1. Local Programming (in New York it’s going to be paid programming) is going to be shown this Saturday over Angels-Dodgers. Think about that for a second. This game features: 1) two teams in a pennant race; 2) two teams in the second largest media market; and 3) the game focuses Mike Trout, the best player in baseball. All of this gets second billing to the Sham-Wow Guy.
As you can probably tell, MLB’s popularity has continued to fade in comparison to the NFL. The TV ratings for the World Series this past season was surpassed by Weeks 1 and 2 of Sunday Night Football. This was all on Bud Selig’s watch. I’m not doing this to complain. I’m doing this to point out what seems obvious to everyone else but myself.
Honestly, this all makes me feel deflated (by the way, in case you didn’t realize it yet, I love puns). Overall, I can care less if the MLB or NFL is more popular. I love the NHL, but I’m not going to sit here and pontificate on how that sport is ignored. The NHL was never a part of our past time. MLB used to be. I want to return to those days. I want to turn on the radio in July while the Mets are finally in the middle of a pennant race and hear baseball talk.
The sad part is I got swept up yesterday in the Deflategate talk. How could you not? If you are an NFL fan (and I am), you have to talk about it. If Clayton Kershaw was suspended for becoming a modern day Gaylord Perry, I would not stop talking about it. The problem is that I think most people would. If this news came to light in early December, most people would talk about the NFL as it approaches the stretch drive while the Kershaw news would fade until Spring Training.
To me that’s the problem. MLB is no longer moving the needle the way it once did. That’s a challenge for the new commissioner Rob Manfred. I want Rob Manfred to move the needle so shows like Hahn & Humpty talk more baseball, at least during baseball season. That’s also a challenge for me as I look to raise my son. I want him to be a Mets fan so we will always have something to bond over. Thirty years from now, I would like to talk about how the Mets are contending and need to add a player at the trade deadline rather than another NFL scandal. I really hope that is possible because I hate this deflated feeling.
I’m done with analyzing potential trades and players. I don’t think the Mets are making any more moves. I don’t think Sandy Alderson had the money to spend. He was bluffing at that press conference because that’s his job. He cannot announce to the world the Mets don’t have the money to add a contract. That’s foolhardy. It reduces your leverage in trade discussions, and it could keep fans away from the ballpark. Both are bad for business, and if anything, Sandy is a good businessman.
Therefore, I’m not going to address how well I think Gerardo Parra will fit on this team, especially given Juan Lagares’ questionable health and offense. I’m not going to address how a Jose Reyes deal will benefit the Mets on the field and in attendance. I won’t go into how Justin Upton has been lousy since April and will only drag the Mets offense further down. I’ve already wasted my breath on Jay Bruce. We all know Yoenis Cespedes and Carlos Gonzalez are not going to be moved by their teams.
Any other players the Mets get besides the aforementioned players are just background noise. They are bench parts that don’t have the day to day impact the Mets need on the field. If the Mets acquire someone, I’ll do a write up on the trade. If the Mets get one of the above, I’ll concede how very wrong I was.
I’m not being pessimistic. I’m being realistic. I do think the team on the field can compete for the postseason and the World Series. When Travis d’Arnaud returns, the team is that much better. If David Wright returns, and is at least a shadow of himself, watch out. If Steven Matz returns, we’re really cooking.
Instead of focusing on what could be, I’m going to focus on what is and enjoy that. I don’t think people do that enough nowadays. I’m going to sit down tonight and watch the Mets game with my son until he falls asleep. I’m going to watch the team on the field, and I’m going to enjoy the game (hopefully). I’m just not going to sit here anymore and fret over what could be. I’m going to enjoy what is.
We don’t always realize it, but professional athletes, coaches, and front office executives are human beings. We are too quick to call for someone to be fired or to call them incompetent. Sure, we all know Ted down the hall is an awful employee. He spends half his day on the internet and the other half of his day just being bad at his job. Everyone knows it, but no one is beating down the boss’s door calling for him to get fired. Yet, we have no problem doing that in the world of sports.
Fans call to WFAN, make posts on Twitter, and even write about it on their blogs. Trust me when I tell you I’m not being judgmental here. I’ve done the same thing, and I will continue to do the same thing. For them, they know it’s part of their role. However, what I have never liked about it is how we all (myself included) tend to dehumanize the person we want to get fired. These people are capable of wonderful and terrific things. For example, this tidbit appeared on the internet yesterday.
It really took me back. Do you remember when you lost a loved one? A kind word or simple gesture means a lot to you. It helps you through the grieving process. It is important to you not just that people care about you, but it’s important that the person you grieve was important and will be remembered by other people.
Overall, Terry Collins has acted with dignity while the manager of the Mets. What I didn’t know about him was level of empathy for a fan. He didn’t owe that letter to anyone. He could have moved onto something else like figuring how the lineup card. No, he took the time to treat someone with dignity and respect. It was an amazing gesture.
I know in the future that I will continue to criticize Collins’ decisions. While I may never call for him to be fired, I won’t criticize anyone that does. That’s the nature of his business. However, in the future, when I either criticize him or call for him to be fired, I will remember him as a human being. I will refrain from the ad hominem attacks. I will treat him with the respect that he showed one of our fellow Mets fans. He deserves at least that much.
When the Uribe/Johnson trade went down, I lamented that it may be a sign David Wright was done for the year. Hopefully, today may be a sign I was wrong because Wright took grounders at Citi Field and felt great.
For what it’s worth, there were doctors who believed Wright could return to play this season. However, this same physician said Wright would return sooner rather than later. To be fair, that is open-ended.
Overall, doctors seem to agree baseball activities exacerbate spinal stenosis. Specifically, the rotation/twisting actions involved in swinging a bat exacerbate the spinal stenosis symptoms. Stephania Bell noted setbacks on the comeback trail are common. Therefore, while it is terrific Wright is taking grounders, it is notable that it was not reported he took batting practice or hitting off of a tee. Even assuming he did and he’s 100% ready to resume play, he’s most likely going to need a lengthy rehab assignment.
Wright has not picked up a bat in about three months. Accordingly, Wright probably needs his rehab assignment to be something akin to Spring Training. Keep in mind, this year the Mets position players reported on February 24th. With the season start date of April 6th, that means Wright originally had 41 days to get ready for the season, which doesn’t include any preparation he did on his own before the season.
If Wright began a rehab assignment right now, he would be ready by September 7th (using the 41 day parameter). The Mets’ last game is October 4th. If the Mets want Wright to play before the playoffs, he’s going to need to begin his rehab assignment by August 24th, at the latest. Realistically, you would want him to play at least one week (possibly more) before the end of the season. With what he means to the team and the nature of his injury, I can’t imagine the Mets would accelerate his rehab assignment.
The absolute deadline for Wright to begin a rehab assignment is quickly approaching. If all goes right, he just might make it. The slightest set back means he won’t. I pray he can do it because, when he’s right, he’s a huge upgrade over Uribe/Murphy.
UPDATE: apparently Wright did hit off a tee while he was in LA. While this is much more promising, the tight time tables remain in place. My fingers are crossed.
In shocking news, the Toronto Blue Jays traded Jose Reyes and prospects for Troy Tulowitzki. Earlier, it was reported the Mets came away thinking the Rockies were not serious about trading Tulo. I’m sure the Mets did their due diligence, but as Mets fans know, Reyes is a special player.
Like the Rockies, the Blue Jays are not trading Tulo to the Mets. For starters, the Blue Jays are three games out of the second Wild Card (four in the loss column) and sport the best run differential in the American League. They’re not selling. If they’re looking to flip Tulo (or another bat) for pitching, the trade will not be for one of the Mets prospects.
Now, I’m having the same thought every Mets fan is having. We want to hear the Jose, Jose, Jose chant at Citi Field again. In the offseason, it was reported the Rockies were considering trading Tulo and were scouting Noah Syndergaard. It has also been assumed the Mets wanted the Rockies to absorb some of Tulo’s contract. These were major sticking points on both sides. Obviously, the deal never got done.
Tulo is being paid $20 million this year. He has $74 million remaining on his contract that expires in 2020. There is a $15 million team option for the 2021 season with a steep $4 million opt out clause. This is a steep price for someone who hasn’t played 140+ games in a season since 2011.
Reyes has a big contract as well, but it’s not as long as Tulo’s contract. Reyes is being paid $22 million his year. He’s due $22 million in 2016 and 2017 ($44 million total) with a $22 million option in 2018 with another steep $4 million opt out clause. Overall, Reyes is due $30 million less in guaranteed future salary.
What will it take to get Reyes? I don’t know. While I wish I was an insider, I’m not. However, the Mets have the pieces to make this happen and have made overtures they can add a major contract. Reyes fits in this team because it gives them the SS they need and he’s a bona fide leadoff hitter. If the Mets can swing the deal, it would allow them to put Granderson lower in the lineup to knock in runs. With Reyes on the team, there will be runners on base.
I pray this deal gets done. With 2006 and the collapses, there is unfinished business here for a Wright and Reyes. The Mets now have the pitching to get it done. The Mets overpaid for Tyler Clippard. They can do the same for Reyes. It’s time to bring Reyes home.
In late June, the Mets called up Steven Matz, in part, because the team felt they needed to switch to a six man rotation. The theory was that if the Mets didn’t do this, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard would hit their innings limits in September. The Mets were being proactive to avoid a repeat of the Stephen Strasberg incident.
After Matz was misdiagnosed by Dr. Warthen, he went in the DL with a torn lat. Matz had to completely shut down all baseball activity for three weeks. We do not yet know if: 1) he can come back this season; and 2) what his role would be.
With Matz down, the Mets now face a ticking clock on the innings limits of their three “stud muffins.” Due to Matz’s injury, the Mets have abandoned the six man rotation for the second time this year.
There are different theories to limiting innings from the Verducci Effect (20-30 innings more than year before) to Tampa Bay’s 20% philosophy (20% more innings than prior year). These limitations would apply to deGrom and Thor.
deGrom pitched 178.1 innings last year between AAA and the majors. Accordingly, his innings would be limited somewhere between 208.1 – 214.0 innings. Right now deGrom is at 127.1 innings (not including his one inning in the All Star Game), and he has averaged approximately 6.2 innings per start. deGrom has approximately 12 starts remaining. If he continues averaging 6.2 innings per start, he would pitch 80 more innings giving him a season total of 207.1, which is right at the lower end of the limitation spectrum. At best, he could have one postseason start for 6.2 innings to stay within his innings limits.
Last year, Thor pitched 133.0 innings. So far this year, he had pitched 108.1 innings between AAA and the majors. He has averaged 6.0 innings in his major league starts. Using the aforementioned parameters, Thor’s innings limit would be between 159.3 – 163.0 innings. Like deGrom, he has approximately 12 starts left if he pitched every fifth day. At six innings per start, he would finish the year with 180.1 innings. Therefore, Thor really has nine starts left to stay within his innings limitations. This leaves him unable to pitch in the postseason.
Harvey is a different case as he did not pitch last year due to Tommy John surgery. In 2012, the Nationals estimated that Strasburg should be limited between 160.0 – 180.0 innings. For their part, the Mets estimated they would hold Harvey to 190.0 innings. While I think Harvey is the ultimate competitor, he is represented by Scott Boras, who also represents Strasburg. Boras championed limiting Strasburg’s innings.
Right now, Harvey is at 125.1 innings, leaving him with only 64.2 innings left in the season. Assuming he has 12 starts remaining, he can only pitch approximately 5.1 innings per start. He’s currently averaging 6.2 innings per start. Like Thor, he would also be unavailable for the playoffs.
I can’t imagine the Mets intend to heavily rely on Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese in the postseason because of the aforementioned innings limits. If they get to October, they must ride their stud muffins. The Mets know this, and yet, they still made a win-now trade for Tyler Clippard. I believe this is a sign they are ready to disregard innings limits and make a real run for it.
That’s fine because recent studies have shown innings limits do not prevent pitcher injuries. This is something Seaver knew intuitively. I’m sure he will be happy when the Mets do away with the innings limits this year. Mets fans should as well because it means the Mets are not relying on unsupported science and are playing meaningful games in September.
I know where I was three years ago. I was sitting in front of the TV in my basement watching Matt Harvey make his major league debut against the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was important to watch that game because it was the first glimmer of hope Mets fans since the collapses closing out Shea.
It’s been a whirlwind since then. He started by striking out Gerardo Parra (yes, that Gerardo Parra) in a record setting 11 K, 5.1 inning shutout win. He would finish 3-5 with a 2.73 ERA in 10 starts. He showed us glimpses of his potential.
In 2013, he started out like gangbusters. From the outset, he was the NL Player of the Week and April’s Player of the Month. He was in ESPN’s “The Body” issue. He almost had a perfect game (my second SNY appearance):
Then things started to turn sour. The Mets let him pitch through forearm tightness (paging Dr. Warthen). After he was shut down, he fought seemingly everyone on getting the surgery (because the Mets should control anyone’s medical decisions). Now all of a sudden his Rangers fandom was a problem (because hanging around and learning from Lundqvist is a bad thing). He had the gaul to want to be around his teammates during his rehab. He had the audacity to seek to pitch one inning in 2014.
There were other missteps, some true and some overblown. Overblown: him paying respects to Derek Jeter. He wasn’t allowed to travel with the team. He goes and watches Derek Jeter’s home game (as inconspicuously as he could), and he gets blasted. By the way, we want our players to love and respect the game, and when Harvey does it, he’s vilified. The real ones were the social media gaffes.
Finally, 2015 mercifully arrived. He has been a very good starting pitcher, but not quite Matt Harvey yet. For his part, Harvey thinks he’s back. Let’s hope he is because I can’t stand the inane backlash from his travel arrangements to his being curteous after playing a round of golf. I can’t stand it.
You know what I see when I see Matt Harvey? I see a fierce competitor. I see a good teammate. I see someone who has handled fame and pressure well. He’s always at his locker answering questions, win or lose. I see a player whose nightlife activities include Ranger games. You don’t hear about all night drinking or drugs with him. After the 80’s, we should appreciate that.
On top of the lessons of the ’80’s Mets, we should remember the lessons of Generation K. The Mets were supposed to have three aces in Isringhausen, Pulsipher, and Wilson. That blew up rather quickly. We need to revere these pitchers while we have them (and while they are healthy).
For those of you who have read this blog before, my favorite player was Darryl Strawberry. My brother’s favorite player was Dwight Gooden. Trust me, that lead to some awkward conversations down the road with my Dad; conversations I frankly don’t want to ever have.
I hope my son grows to root for Harvey because: 1) he has so many positive traits to celebrate (competitiveness, accountability, he’s not a quitter); and 2) it means he will be effective with the Mets for a long time. I’m celebrating this day because it’s the anniversary of when the Mets started turning things around. I hope you are as well.
As I wrote in my last post, the Mets have a lot of versatility. After thinking about it, I noticed something:
2B: Kelly Johnson (L) & Wilmer Flores (R)
3B: Daniel Murphy (L) & Juan Uribe (R)
CF: Kirk Nieuwenhuis (L) & Juan Lagares (R)
This is the making of the perfect platoon situation. Last night the lefties played against the right handed Zach Lee. The aforementioned lefties were in the lineup. Once the game was out of control, the better defensive players were the Juans who came out onto the field (can’t wait to use that pun again).
I believe Collins will look to ride the hot hand more than he’ll look to platoon players. However, when the Mets have faced lefties this year, he has loaded the lineup with right handed batters. I think the platoon system is the prudent way to go that unless/until the Mets get reinforcements (trades, players returning from injury).
Remember, the only two times the Mets won the Workd Series, they effectively used a platoon system.
Spinal stenosis is a fickle thing. Each case is different, and, as such, treatments vary. By the Mets own admission, Wright’s injury is taking longer to heal than they thought. This article was on May 23rd. I’m not being critical of the Mets here with Wright. The Mets have subjected themselves to criticism with their handlings of injuries, but not here.
For what it’s worth, Wright has guaranteed he will return. Sandy Alderson just announced Wright resumed baseball activities. Sandy then traded for a third baseman. Remember, we initially were informed he would return after the All Star Break. I just find it odd as we hear Wright is on his way back, the Mets add a third baseman.
I will say even if the Mets truly believe Wright is coming back, the Mets need an insurance policy (I don’t mean the one the Mets have right now) because repetition could exacerbate the spinal stenosis. Also, if he comes back, you want to give him more rest than you normally would during the stretch run.
Overall, I really hope I’m wrong. Since 2005, he has been the Mets. He was part of the rise of the 2006 team. He showed why the original dimensions of Citi Field were a joke. With the redesign of Citi Field and the team, both he and the Mets were once again supposed to take off.
For the first time, we can realistically ask, “Is the end of David Wright’s career near?” It doesn’t seem right.” He still has five years left on his contract. He’s only 32 years old. He was on pace for a Hall of Fame career. He may now be the Mets’ Don Mattingly. That would be a shame.
I want my son to see David Wright and remember it. I want us to go to Citi Field when his number is retired. I want us to go to Cooperstown to see him inducted in the Hall of Fame. Mostly, I now just want to see him play again.
Sometime before the season, the Mets polled fans to see if they prefer Saturday games to be in the day (1:00 start) or the night (7:10 start). I think my feelings on the subject have changed.
In my opinion, I prefer day games. You can get to the game early and have lunch while taking in batting practice. After the game, you leave and still be home in time for dinner. However, when I’m home watching, which is most of the time, I prefer a night game.
If the game is on during the day, I just can’t watch it. I’d rather play with my son or take him out somewhere fun. As most parents will tell you, the weekends go from relaxing to always being on the go. If I’m lucky, I can listen to the game on the radio with all the craziness.
If the game is at night, I can wind down from the day and watch the beginning of the game with my son as he falls asleep. It wasn’t until last night that it occurred to me that it could be the Mets offense and not tiredness that puts him to sleep. But I digress, I prefer night games now, and I’m sure I’ll change my mind a million Times as he grows up.