Mike Piazza Takes the Torch

Tonight it’s official. The torch has been passed. The face of the ex-Mets has officially become Mike Piazza. He’s throwing out the first pitch before the first Mets home World Series game. 

This spot used to belong to Tom Seaver. He’s still the greatest Met to put on the uniform. He just might be the greatest right handed pitcher ever. That will never change. However, he’s 70 years old.  We don’t know how much the Lyme disease has taken out of him. If he’s not here, it means he can’t be here. It’s sad, but that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten. However, someone needs to take up that mantle. Someone needs to throw that first pitch. 

There are plenty of options from the 1986 team. With the start of SNY, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling have become even more beloved. There’s always Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. If you’re looking for some October magic, look no further than Mookie Wilson

But no, tonight is for your franchise’s best player. Without Seaver being available it’s Piazza. He’s the guy who was the Mets. He lead the team to the postseason in 1999 and 2000. He hit the post-9/11 homerun. He is the greatest hitting catcher of all time. He will be the second one to wear a Mets cap in the Hall of Fame. With all he’s meant to the Mets and their fans, he should be a part of this

So while the Mets come home, so does Mike Piazza. This time he comes home as our best player just like it was in his playing days. 

Do You Start Lagares?

Coming into the postseason, Juan Lagares was nothing more than a defensive replacement. In Game 1 of the NLDS, the Mets went with Michael Cuddyer over Lagares and Michael Conforto against Clayton Kershaw

Cuddyer was so bad in the field that the Mets haven’t given him another start. The next three times an opponent started a lefty, the Mets would go with Lagares. This is in addition to his appearances as a defensive replacement. While Lagares has not played to his usual defensive standards this postseason, he’s shined offensively. 

Lagares has a triple slash line of .368/.400/.474 with six runs, two doubles, and two stolen bases. In Game 1, he created a run by singling after an extended at bat, stealing a base, and scoring on an error by Eric Hosmer.  Conversely, Conforto has struggled. 

After homering in his first postseason at bat against Zack Greinke, he hasn’t hit. Literally. After that homerun, Conforto is 0-19 with a walk and six strikeouts. It looks like he’s having good at bats. He’s hit some balls hard, but the results aren’t there. Yes, he’s a much better hitter than Lagares. However, Lagares is hot, and he’s cold. 

Normally, Lagares would sit against the Royals Game 3 starter, Yordano Ventura, because he’s righty. However, Terry Collins doesn’t seem inclined to sit Lagares:

Here, I can’t fault Collins either way. On the one hand you go with the hot bat and better glove, even if he’s not producing as much defensively as you would like. On the other you have a good hitter who just can’t buy a hit, but you know he will be good to very good defensively. 

In the end, I’d lean towards Conforto. It’s what you’ve done all year.  Lagares has shown he can impact a game late by coming in for defense or by being a spark plug. Also, I like Conforto’s approach right now. He’s not getting hits, but he’s working the count and varying his deliveries. 

Whatever the decision, the Mets will be fine. They’re both very capable players, who have a lot to offer a team. I’m confident either or both will have a big hit it defensive play b

Angels in Citi Field

It’s a tough time for the Mets. They gave their all in Game 1, but they lost. They unravelled in Game 2. They’re halfway on their way to losing the World Series. It’s times like these you seemingly only have a hope and a prayer. It’s times like theses you need your guardian angel. The Mets are full in that department. 

In the heavens, Nelson Doubleday sees his Mets suffering. This is the team he rescued from irrelevancy. He once took the helm and ushered in the greatest era of Mets baseball. He knows this team needs his help. 

He knows he can’t do it alone, so he grabs the one man who he knows can gather together the right mix of angels to make this happen. Frank Cashen gives a nod to Mr. Doubleday, and he finds them. He sends them down to Citi Field to help and deliver a message. 

You always start with a winner.  It’s better to have someone who knows how to utilize a young pitching staff. How to bring them to new heights. How to lead them to a championship. He summons Gil Hodges, who under the din of Citi Field is Hodges reaching out to boost morale. 

He summons Yogi Berra. Yogi can’t understand the despair, then again he knows better than anyone it gets late early in New York. The wind swirling into Citi Field reminds us, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” 
For help, Yogi turns to his closer Tug McGraw. Tug is all fired up. He’s been here before with Gil and Yogi. With a loud bang in the concourse in Citi Field you can hear old Tug jumping up and down screaming, “Ya Gotta Believe.” 

Cashen though knows he needs one more. Who better to turn to than the man he last turned to when he was trying to capture a World Series. Gary Carter knows what he’s there to do. You just don’t make the last out. With every crack of the bat, The Kid lets the Mets know they won’t make the last out.  

With that Cashen’s work is done. He’s assembled a group of greats, a group of legends, a group of angels. They’ll be there tonight to guide the Mets to victory. They didn’t let the Mets lose without a fight before, and they won’t let it happen this time either. They’re watching over the Mets. 

We all know what’s leading the Mets to victory tonight even if our human eyes will never see the hands that brought those Mets runs home. 

Trivia Friday

For the first time ever, Citi Field is going to host a World Series game. All previous World Series games were played in Shea Stadium. Can you name the Mets who played at the very first game in  Shea Stadium:

Stop Overthinking It

All I’ve heard everywhere today is the Mets need to get Juan Uribe in the lineup. People are starting to question at what point you sit David Wright. Do you rearrange the lineup?  Stop. 

Let’s start with Uribe. He’s not a good postseason player. You’re looking to substitute Wright’s .171/.320/.220 triple slash this offseason with Uribe’s career postseason stats of .204/.241/.338. It’s not exactly a massive upgrade especially when you consider Uribe hasn’t played in a month and the fact that he still may not be ready:

Another consideration is defense. Wright is a much better defensive player. Yes, he made one error in Game 1, but he’s been very good in every game. 

With respect to the lineup, what are you changing?  Yes, I know Wright’s not hitting. However, go over the stats. The only Mets hitting this postseason are Curtis GrandersonDaniel Murphy, and only recently, Lucas Duda. You still want to go L-R-L in the lineup, so who’s the right that’s hitting?  If anyone was tearing it up, if consider it, but they’re not. 

David Wright is the captain. He waited a long time for this. He worked hard to get back here. What effect would have on the team if he’s benched or put lower in the lineup. It’s a real consideration. 

I’m probably harder on Wright than anyone, but I respect him and his game. That probably goes a million times over for his teammates and the organization. I still hope he comes through in a game. He needs to be in there. 

Lets Go Mets!

Where’s the Pitching?

Before the series, I detailed how the Mets would win this series because they essentially had three Madison Bumgarners. I have to admit after two games, I have to admit my comparison doesn’t look good. I obsess over everything, and I have to know why. Note to my son, good luck dealing with me buddy. 

When I first looked at everything, I saw that Bumgarner established his fastball and then mixed in his breaking pitches. It’s how the Mets three stud muffins pitched all year long. My eyes told me in Game 1 and 2 that Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom abandoned who they were. 

They didn’t establish the fastball. Instead, they started mixing in the offspeed changes immediately. When they needed to get the big outs in the fifth for deGrom and sixth for Harvey, the Royals had seen everything, and they weren’t surprised by anything. However, I’m a fan. I see a lot of things, and usually what I see is pro-Mets. 

Here is deGrom’s breakdown from the regular season:

  • 96.23 MPH fastball 37.89%
  • 96.44 MPH sinker 18.01%
  • 86.54 MPH change 15.84%
  • 90.03 MPH slider 12.01%
  • 81.63 MPH curve 16.15 %

Here’s deGrom last night:

  • 95.48 MPH fastball 28.72%
  • 95.48 MPH sinker 27.66%
  • 86.53 MPH change 10.64%
  • 87.96 MPH slider 13.83%
  • 81.02 MPH curve 19.15 %

Here’s what I see. He had a slight dip in velocity. He was throwing more lower in the zone and not moving the ball horizontally in the zone. He threw more breaking pitches than changing speeds. In more ways than one, he was a different pitcher. 

Harvey was more successful, but he couldn’t hold a lead. I’m curious what, if anything, he did different than deGrom and/or during the regular season. Here’s Harvey’s regular season:

  • 95.86 MPH fastball 59.56%
  • 88.08 MPH change 11.48%
  • 90.29 MPH slider 14.75%
  • 84.01 MPH curve 14.21%

Here’s his Game 1 start:

  • 94.72 MPH fastball 37.50%
  • 87.56 MPH change 25.00%
  • 89.57 MPH slider 21.25%
  • 83.09 MPH curve 16.25%

Like deGrom, he had a slight velocity dip. He was more drastic in how he pitched. Harvey pretty much threw any pitch at anytime. I’m not sure if that indicates he kept the Royals more off balance and that’s why he went deeper in the game giving up more runs. I’m not sure if Harvey’s secondary pitches are just that much better. 

What I do see is that Harvey and deGrom changed how they pitched. Personally, I think it’s from an over reliance on scouting reports. I’m not a dinosaur. I think you have to scout your opponent to find out how to best beat your opponent. 

However, you also have to scout yourself. You need to find out the things you do well. The Mets didn’t do enough of that in Kansas City, and they suffered. It’s a lesson for Noah Syndergaard. You have to be yourself on the mound. Establish the fastball and mix in your secondary pitches. 

It worked against the Royals last year. It’s worked for Thor this year. It’s how the Mets will turn this series around. 

No Need to Panic

Remember when #PanicCity was a thing?  I do too. It was justified then. When Sandy Alderson bestowed the moniker on Mets fans, here was the previous night’s starting lineup:

  1. Curtis Granderson
  2. Ruben Tejada
  3. Lucas Duda
  4. Michael Cuddyer
  5. Wilmer Flores
  6. Darrell Ceciliani
  7. Kevin Plawecki
  8. Jacob deGrom
  9. Dilson Herrera

Look at that lineup. The number two and five hitters rotate in the eighth spot, at least until Tejada went down. The number three hitter bats fifth. The cleanup hitter is on the bench. The seventh hitter is a backup. The sixth and ninth hitters are not on the playoff roster. 

This is a different team than that one. This team was one out away from winning Game One. They had a bad game against an erratic pitcher, who has pitched well against the Mets in the past. Why must it be more than that?  

We just watched our young pitchers now down an incredible Cubs offense. We know good pitching beats good hitting. It’s the reason the Mets are in the World Series. This isn’t the same old Mets offense. They can actually hit now. 

The Mets are getting a needed day off to collect themselves. They’re going to set things straight. They’re going out tomorrow, and they’re going to play their best game of the year. Then they’ll go out in Game 4 and do the same thing, and so on and so on. 

Ya Gotta Believe!

Are the Royals Stealing the World Series?

The Mets threw their two best pitchers to start the World Series, and things didn’t go as planned. There were some suggestions that Jacob deGrom was tipping his pitches. For what it’s worth, Dan Warthen disagrees

Now, there is a way that the Royals knew what was coming without deGrom tipping his pitches. It’s the art of sign stealing. There’s no definitive proof right now, but we know it’s something everybody tries to do. I think there might be something to it because some the Royals seemed paranoid about it in the ALCS. To be fair, the Blue Jays do have a history. 

Right now, there’s nothing definitive to prove this is happening. The only thing we can really look at is the team’s home and away splits. At home, the Royals hit .279/.334/.426 averaging 4.6 runs per game. On the road, they hit .259/.310/.399 averaging 4.3 runs per game. There’s a definitive contrast there.

Now, there are many logical explanations other than sign stealing. Teams are built for their ballpark. Players are more comfortable at home. However, the Royals are noted as comparatively free swingers. Kauffman Stadium is a pitcher’s park. Despite that, the Royals have a better OBP and slugging percentage at home. 

There’s smoke, but you can’t definitely prove there’s fire. I don’t have a problem with the Royals doing it. It just means the Mets have to be smarter. They have to change up their signs. Travis d’Arnaud has to hide the signs better.

Whatever it is the Royals are doing is having an effect. However, the Mets are coming back to Citi Field. Things should be different the next three games. The Royals won’t be stealing anything here. 

Tired of the Cowards

I’ve been watching Mets baseball for over 30 years. It doesn’t matter if it’s the 1986 or the 2015 team, it’s never easy. After last night’s admittedly disheartening loss, I saw way too many Mets fans giving up and/or trying to come to terms with losing the World Series. It reminded me of this:

We saw a historically inept offense transform with two trades, some health, and yes, some luck. The team had a debilitating loss to the Padres. They rebounded, swept the Nationals, and claimed first place. They would’ve give it back. 

The Mets then lost a potential clincher at home in the NLDS forcing them to have to travel cross-country to face presumptive Cy Young winner Zack Greinke. The Mets would win the do or did game on the road to advance to the NLCS to face the favored Cubs. The Mets swept the Cubs and won the pennant

Yes, the last two games were hard, but you know what?  We’ve all forgotten how hard the regular season was. It was brutal. That coupled with putting themselves on the brink of losing the NLDS, the entire season has been one tense moment after another. What have anyone the idea that: (1) this was going to be easy; and/or (2) the Mets don’t have what it takes to win this series now. 

The Mets are going home, and they have Noah Syndergaard pitching in Game 3. We all know he’s dominant at home. It just takes that first win to get things going. You have to like Thor’s chances. It then becomes a series, and that’s where things will get interesting.

Overall, nothing is over. Look how far the Mets are. Look at his they got here. If you don’t think the Mets can pull this off, I don’t know what to tell you other than:


Cueto Completed Dominant Royals Effort

Honestly, I thought the one run was going to hold up. Lucas Duda had an RBI single in the fourth. Johnny Cueto was starting to get wild. Jacob deGrom was dealing. Then the fifth inning happened. 

When the game started, I lived deGrom’s approach. He established the fastball and used his breaking pitches well. The Royals were making contact, but it wasn’t solid contact. I’m not sure what happened next, but there are some theories:

Whatever it was, it was a slow death for deGrom. The Royals batted around. They had four runs on one leadoff walk and five hits. To put it in perspective, deGrom let up five hits in Game 1 of the NLDS, six hits in Game 5 of the NLDS, and four hits in Game 3 of the NLCS. He practically let up as many hits in that inning as any game this postseason. It certainly leads credence to Adam Rubin’s information when you consider:

Regardless, deGrom didn’t have it in the fifth. Maybe it was Game 5 of the NLDS. Maybe Collins just wanted to outdo yesterday’s ineptitude. In any event, he let the game slip away with Jon Niese ready I the pen. 

Don’t worry, Niese warmed up again after an effective Hansel Robles appearance in the sixth. Collins would go an inning too long with Niese because why not?  The game was within reach at 4-1 going into the bottom of the eighth. It would be out of reach at 7-1 after that. On top of that the Mets probably lost Niese for at least Game 3. I really don’t know what Collins was thinking. 

To make matters worse, the Royals outpitched the Mets in this game. deGrom went five. Cueto pitched a two hit complete game. 

Tonight, the only good news was Duda. He was 2-3 with an RBI. He got the only two hits on the night. I guess the other good news is that the Mets are getting out of town.