2015 Mets Magic Number

Previously, I had done multiple posts for 10 when there was no change in the magic number. When I looked over the candidates again, I didn’t believe there was another player worthy of a write-up. Instead, I thought that I should have a master list of every selection I have made. 

Before, I list them out, please keep in mind the rules: (1) I’m focusing on bad, disappointing, or players that haven’t panned out; (2) I must’ve seen the player play; and (3) the player played on bad or disappointing Mets teams. I began the list with 17, and I do not publish anything until the Mets and Nationals have finished their games (if they both played on the same day). 

Without further ado, here’s the master list:

Current Magic Number: 0

METS CLINCHED THE NL EAST!

Magic Number 0 – Mr. Met

Magic Number 1 – Chris Young

Magic Number 3 – Omar Quintanilla

Magic Number 4 – IV*

Magic Number 5 – Charlie O’Brien

Magic Number 6 – Kelly Shoppach

Magic Number 7 – D.J. Dozier

Magic Number 8 – Carlos Baerga

Magic Number 9 – Craig Brazell

Magic Number 10 – Joe Hieptas & Rey Sanchez

Magic Number 11 – Vince Coleman

Magic Number 12 – Alvaro Espinoza

Magic Number 14 – Ken Boyer

Magic Number 16 – Rick Ankiel

Magic Number 17 – Jeff McKnight

As the Mets have won the NL East, this series has come to a close. I’ve had a lot of fun doing it, and I hope you’ve had fun reading it. It’s now off to the playoffs. 

Lets Go Mets!

Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the New York Mets, the shortstop, Wilmer Flores!

Thor May Be the Key to Everything

Even after all the trades, Mets fans knew/believed that the Mets would only go as far as their young pitching would take them. Mr he main focus was on the Matt HarveyJacob deGrom 1-2 punch. 

The problem is the rest of the NL has pretty good 1-2 punches in their own right, and that’s before you take Harvey’s innings limits into account. Let’s see who the NL playoff teams have: 

Dodgers

  1. Clayton Kershaw
  2. Zack Greinke

Cardinals

  1. Michael Wacha
  2. Carlos Martinez

Cubs

  1. Jake Arrieta
  2. Jon Lester

Pirates

  1. Gerrit Cole
  2. Francisco Liriano

With these matchups, you’d imagine the NL playoffs will be all about pitching. You can imagine the Mets being anywhere from up 2-0 to down 0-2. This is what makes Noah Syndergaard so important. He can give the Mets a lead in the series, put the other team on the brink, or get the Mets back in a series. 

Thor has answered every call thus far in a stellar rookie season. His games against the Nationals are much bigger than what he’ll experience this afternoon. Although, I suspect the crowd may have a little more juice. I’ll have faith in him no matter what happens today. 

October is going to become Hammer Time!

Mets Magic Number is 8

I’ve alluded to who my selection for number 8 would be. After looking over the candidates and my self-imposed rules, the pick is Carlos Baerga:

  
When the trade was made in 2006, Baerga switched to number 8 for the 1997 and 1998 seasons. We all know by now it was an awful trade. Baerga provided the Mets with a triple slash line of .267/.302/.373 with 18 homers and 116 RBIs. 

The man he replaced, Jeff Kent, turned out to be a career .290/.356/.500 hitter with 377 homeruns and 1,518 RBIs. He was the 2000 NL MVP. He is the all time leader for second baseman in homeruns (351), RBIs (1,389), slugging percentage (.509), and doubles (560). I remember my Dad was angry when the trade first took place, and he would become more irritated each and every passing year. 

Now, record wise, 1997 and 1998 were pretty good. However, 1998 was heartbreaking. For all the fans looking for a repeat of 2007 and 2008 after a couple of losses to the Marlins, they forgot about the original collapse. 

The Mets had a one game lead over the Cubs and four games over the Giants with five games remaining (seven for the Giants). The Mets lost all five of their remaining games. They were home as the Cubs and Giants had a play-in game for the Wild Card featuring future Met Steve Trachsel, and former Met, Jeff Kent. 

In those final five games for the Mets, Baerga went 2-13 (.154) with no walks, one RBI, no extra base hits, and one game on the bench. He wasn’t the only one responsible for that collapse, *cough* Mel Rojas *cough*. However, the Mets were stuck with Baerga while Kent was in the play-in game. It just shows you how changing one player for another can have a profound impact on your season. With this year’s flurry of trades, it’s something Mets fans know well. 

So let’s tip our cap to Magic Number 8, Carlos Baerga, who shows us, in part, our fears of collapse are behind us. 

Also, take this time to remember the late, great Gary CarterJe me souviens. Rest in peace. 

Matz Takes the First Game of the Subway Series

Other than a win, if you set forth what you wanted from tonight’s game, it would be a strong start from Steven Matz and for Lucas Duda to get back on track. Well done and done. 

It didn’t start great for Matz. He was amped up in the first inning, and he wasn’t locating. He worked around a leadoff walk and single to Carlos Beltran  (seriously why was he booed), and only allowed one run on a sac fly. He got through six innings with the scored tied at 1-1.  His final line was six innings, seven hits, one walk, four strikeouts, and one earned. 

The score was tied at 1-1 when he left because Duda hit a homerun in the second. He looked back on track tonight going 2-4 with a run, an RBI, a double, and a homerun. Matz would get the win because Daniel Murphy would hit a go-ahead homerun in the bottom of the sixth. Murphy had a great night going 2-4 with a homerun and a triple (slight misplay by Jacoby Elssbury). 
Overall, four of the Mets five runs came via homerun. The last homerun was a two run pinch hit homerun by Juan Uribe in the seventh. You could say his ball went,”Bye, Bye, Bye.”  

The fifth run would save scored in the eighth on a wild pitch. The run was scored by Eric Young, Jr., who pinch ran for Murphy after his triple in the eighth. EY now has no hits and seven runs scored for the Mets. 

The bullpen kept the lead even with Tyler Clippard out with back problems. Hansel Robles pitched a scoreless seventh, which included getting a lefty out. Addison Reed was terrific in the eighth showing he’s ready for the playoffs. Even without the save opportunity in a 5-1 game, Jeurys Familia came on in the ninth. 

It was an adventure. He loaded the bases with one out. That included an infield basehit off of his knee. He got Brett Gardner to fly out to left, and the runner did not try to run on Yoenis Cespedes‘ arm. He was in left because Juan Lagares came in for defense. Familia then struck out Chase Headley to preserve the 5-1 win. 

I think Matz made his case to pitch in the playoffs. Duda got back on track. Murphy remained clutch. The Mets beat a team that needed to win tonight. The Mets aren’t collapsing. 

They’re getting ready for the playoffs. 

Don’t Boo Carlos Beltran

Tonight, Carlos Beltran returns to Citi Field. This time he’s wearing a Yankees uniform. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s an All Time great Met. 

If you look at WAR, Beltran is the sixth best Mets to ever put on the uniform. He was better than Edgardo AlfonzoJose ReyesKeith Hernandez, and Mike Piazza. In his seven years with the Mets, he went to five All Star Games and won three Gold Gloves. He should have won the 2006 NL MVP Award. He was the best CF the Mets ever had in their history. 

More than that he was a gamer. After that violent August 11, 2005 collision with Mike Cameron, he suffered facial fractures and was hospitalized.  He only missed four games. In the last game at Shea, with the season on the line, he hit a game tying homerun to keep their hopes alive. He was also terrific in the 2006 postseason with a .422 OBP and 3 homeruns. 

That’s where it all gets mixed up. The strikeout. I can’t defend it. He didn’t even try to foul if off. What I can defend is the work that came before and after it. I was happy when he got a loud ovation at the 2013 All Star Game. It was all the more impressive because he was wearing a Cardinals uniform. He comes back again tonight wearing a Yankee uniform. 

It’s not cause to boo. He didn’t leave the Mets for them. He was traded away, and the Mets never showed interest in bringing him back. So when he comes up to bat the first time, give him some applause to thank him for his time with the Mets. 

What’s at Stake in the Subway Series?

For the Mets?  Nothing quite yet. The NL East is pretty much a lock. They’re giving Steven Matz a chance to show he’s ready for the playoffs. Mostly though, the Mets are just trying to stay healthy and get homefield advantage in the NLDS. 

Currently, the Mets are two games behind the Dodgers for homefield advantage in the NLDS. Both teams have a tough home series this weekend. The Mets have the Yankees, and the Dodgers have the Pirates. The goal of this weekend is to not lose ground. After this the Mets can beef up on the Braves, Reds, and Phillies to make up this two games. Remember, the Mets need only tie because they won the season series against the Dodgers. 

You know what’s not at stake this weekend?  New York. The Mets could sweep the Yankees by a combined score of 30-3, and it wouldn’t give them New York. Although, it would excite the fan base. What gives the Mets New York is sustained dominance. Some wins now are good, but a World Series is better. 

However, the goal for now is homefield advantage in the NLDS. Once that’s accomplished, the other goals will come into focus. 

It’s My Island

This is a huge start for Steven Matz. As a local kid from Long Island, it’s his opportunity to stand up and proclaim, this is the Mets town. It’s time for a man named Steven to stand up and declare:

In all seriousness, Matz has something more important to stake his claim – a postseason roster spot. Right now the postseason rotation is still in flux. It seems the only one assured of a spot is Jacob deGrom

Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard both have innings limit issues. Jon Niese has been utterly ineffectiveBartolo Colon has beaten up on the NL East and sub-.500 teams. Logan Verrett is nothing more than a spot starter. There’s an opening for Matz, and frankly a left handed starter, with the Dodgers coming up in the NLDS.

The Dodgers feature a number of big left handed bats with Adrian GonzalezJoc PedersonAndre Ethier, and Chase Utley, who you know is chomping at the bit to beat the Mets again.  It would be great if the Mets could throw a lefty starter out there to neutralize those bats.  It’s all the more important without a lefty in the bullpen.  Niese has shown it shouldn’t be him. 

This will be the last Mets opponent over .500 until the last series of the season. The Yankees are in a dog fight in the AL East and Wild Card. They need the series a lot more than the Mets do. Most likely, he will face Jacoby EllsburyBrett Gardner, and Greg Bird. It’s a good primer.

Matz needs to step up. He needs to go out there tonight and pitch like the ace the Mets fans think he is. I want to see his grandfather celebrating all game long. If we see it, it means Matz is pitching well. It means he’s securing a postseason start. It means the Mets will have a better chance of winning the NLDS. 

It may lead further towards the Mets taking back New York. It may see mad, but it may become Steven’s Island. 

Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the New York Mets, the second baseman, Wilmer Flores!

Mets Magic Number is 9 

After the Marlins beat the Nationals last night, the Mets magic number is finally in single digits. At a minimum, I thought it was nice to be off of 10. However, I saw the choices for 9, and I quickly realized it was going to be difficult to find a player that fits within my parameters

Many of the players either played well or were on good teams. Many of the players played before I was born. However, I knew there was a player out there. I trusted that I could find someone who wasn’t that good and played on a bad Mets team. I then found my man Craig Brazell:

 
If you don’t remember him, it’s probably because he only played 24 games with the 2004 Mets, who went 71-91. In these 24 games, he would hit .265/.286/.412. He wouldn’t play in the majors for another three years when he would play five games for the Royals. 

It’s a shame because he was an actual major league prospect. He was a Top 10 organizational player seen to have good power and a good glove at firstbase. Unfortunately for him, he was blocked by the Mike Piazza firstbase experiment. The next season, he was blocked by Doug Mientkiewicz (because Carlos Delgado wouldn’t sign with the Mets). After 2005, he was granted free agency, and he left Mets organization. 

In some ways, Brazell reminds me of Ike Davis in that they were both good fielding first base prospects with power (Davis was a much better prospect). Unfortunately, neither panned out even if Davis had some early success. However, unlike with Brazell, the Mets had a viable option in their system with Lucas Duda

That’s what this season has taught us. You need organizational depth. You need it not just to get the players you need at the trade deadline, but also to fill-in spots for your team when there is injury or ineffectiveness. It’s unfortunate when the prospects work out. It’s devastating when there’s no viable alternatives at the ready. 

So with that, let’s offer a hat tip to our magic man number nine, Craig Brazell.