Dinner is Outback

I love steak. My steak of choice is the T-bone. I’ve been thinking of steak all day because: 1) I get to pick where we go out to eat tonight, and 2) David Wright‘s going to be a good guy and get steaks for the St. Lucie team:


Ummm yeah. Outback isn’t exactly outdoing Michael Cuddyer’s chicken.  Outback is to steak like McDonalds is to Shake Shack. Sure, they’re both hamburgers, but one is in a different class than the other.  

I’m not one to spend someone else’s money, but I’m sure Wright and his $20 million could afford something better than Outback.  According to Yelp!, there are Ruth’s Chris Steakhouses within an hour of the ballpark. Now that’s a steak dinner. 

Before making his choice, Wright should remember that one day Dom Smith may one day be his teammate, and he may be preventing Wright from accumulating throwing errors. If Wright doesn’t go the Ruth’s Chris route, he can at least say he’s not providing steak, but rather he’s providing this: 

Now that right there is a reason to go to Outback. 

All kidding aside, I think it’s awesome Wright is buying the minor leaguers dinner. Minor Leaguers notoriously make little money, so I’m sure this meal is welcome. Also, this will give them some additional time to pick his brain to see what it takes to be a great major league player. 

Seemingly, Wright has nothing to gain from this, and this is what makes it such a great gesture. With all the negativity going on in and out of the world of sports, it’s great to hear a story like this. It makes it easier to root for Wright. It’ll be better rooting for him when he’s back in New York. 

Hello Reyes My Old Friend

Last night, Jose Reyes returned to Citi Field . . . again. This is the third jersey Reyes has worn at Citi Fiels since Sandy Alderson informed him the Mets weren’t interested in resigning him. 

Reyes hasn’t killed the Mets since he left. In 22 games against them, he’s only hit .229/.298/.325.  Last night, he went 1-4 and was picked off of first base. However since his departure, the Mets have been unable to resolve their SS situation. We were reminded of this as Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] played SS twice (is he becoming Bartolo Colon’s personal SS?) and Ruben Tejada, who was terrible in the field on Saturday, played once against the Rays. Overall, since Reyes left the Mets after the 2011 season, here are the Mets’ SS by games played (as per Baseball Almanac):

  1. Ruben Tejada – 281
  2. Omar Quntanilla – 168
  3. Wilmer Flores – 125
  4. Ronny Cedeno – 27
  5. Justin Turner – 10
  6. Jordany Valdespin
  7. Eric Campbell – 2
  8. Wilfredo Tovar – 1
  9. David Wright – 1

This is why I begged the Mets to bring Reyes back to New York. It would at least end the pattern of: 1) give Tejada the job; 2) Tejada over exposed or not able to play SS everyday; 3) look for another poor solution and repeat. It’s insane that Quintanilla has played the second most games in the above list. 

The Mets are in first place right now with a SS problem. The job, yet again, belongs to Tejada. As the information shows, it won’t be for long. This is why I hope the Mets make a move for a SS prior to the August 31 waiver trade deadline. I really hope that player is Reyes. I know we’re stuck with Tejada. 

Are the Mets All-In?

Rarely, if ever, do you see the Mets go all-in on a season. In fact, the only time I remember it happening was 1999 when Steve Phillips traded everyone to try to improve the team after just missing out on the playoffs in 1998. 

Watching that 1999 team was probably the most fun I had watching baseball. With that season came so many highlights including the Al Leiter two-hitter in the Wild Card play-in gamePratt’s All Folks, and the Grand Slam Single. The season ended cruelly with Kenny Rogers . . . . 

If you remember, that year the Mets gave away Jason Isringhausen for Billy Taylor.  As we know Taylor had no regular season impact and was left off the playoff roster.  It also saw Octavio Dotel get called up too soon and stay in the majors too long to the tune of a 5.38 ERA. He was warming in the bullpen when Kenny Rogers . . . .

This year, the Mets are seemingly all-in like they were in 1999. They gave up their two best prospects who have not appeared in the majors this year. In exchange the Mets received two and a half months of Tyler Clippard and Yoenis Cespedes, who is leaving as a free agent. Because of deplorable offense, Michael Conforto was rushed to the majors, and the Mets won’t send him back down

Look, I understand going all-in. It led to a run in 1999, and to a certain extent 2000. However, in order to go all-in, you don’t hedge your bets. 

For starters, that means ending the innings limits nonsense. First of all, the underlying theorem was proven incorrect. Second, the rotation is set up nicely the rest of the year if it’s left unadulterated. Third, Steven Matz must go to the bullpen upon his return from the DL. 

If the Mets make the playoffs, he will be in the bullpen anyway (if he makes the postseason roster). He can be like the 2006 Adam Wainwright or the 2008 David Price out there. This will help him and the Mets. If you put him in the rotation, you mess up the rotation and you endanger the opportunity that Matz can be effective in the postseason as a reliever. 

If the Mets are truly all-in as their trades and treatment of Conforto suggest, Matz will be a reliever. If the Mets put him in the rotation and try spot starts or a six man rotation in September, then they should’ve sent down Conforto. You can’t go half way in being all-in. 

Let’s hope no matter what they do, it works out to their benefit. Let’s also hope we’re talking potential postseason roster moves instead. 

Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the New York Mets, the second baseman, WILMER FLORES!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Since my 14th birthday, I always look to take stock of where the Mets are in the standings. That year the Mets were a 3 games under .500 with no hope for the playoffs . . . and not just because of the strike. 

Typically, I will go to the Mets game if they are in town on my birthday. Usually, they’re not in town. Mostly, they’re not in contention. I still go because I enjoy the games. However, we all enjoy the games more when the Mets are good and in contention. 

It would not be for another four years before they would be in playoff contention on my birthday (thank you Mike Piazza). The Mets would then be in contention for the following two years before the team started to decline in 2001. 

It wouldn’t be until that glorious 2006 regular season that the Mets would be in first place on my birthday. They would be the next year as well until that horrid collapse. They were in second in 2008 before yet another collapse. I still don’t know how Jerry Manuel got a contract extension off of that season. 

Six years later, and the Mets are in first place again on my birthday. Next to a beautiful wife and an amazing son, this is what I’m celebrating most. I’m not going to tell you what I’m wishing for when I blow out the candles . . . but I’m sure you can guess. 

Rockies Limit Their Chance to Win

Lucky for the Mets, the Colorado Rockies are more serious about Innings limits than they are. In his second career start, Jon Gray stymied the Mets offense for six innings. The only damage against him was a Travis d’Anaud second inning homerun. 

Now there’s no shame in getting shut down by Gray. He was the third overall pick in 2013. He was rated the 13th best prospect by Baseball Prospectus. He is a prized prospect that left the game after 75 pitches in six innings. 

After Gray was pulled, the Mets offense finally went to work against Justin Miller. d’Anaud got it started with a single. Michael Conforto and Ruben Tejada walked around a Juan Uribe pop out. Curtis Granderson worked the count full and was hit by ex-teammate Boone Logan’s pitch to tie the game. Daniel Murphy then hit a two RBI single just past old friend Jose Reyes to give the Mets a 4-2 lead. 

The Mets seventh not only gave the Mets the lead, but it also gave Jon Niese the win. Niese was good tonight. He only allowed a fourth inning two run opposite field homerun to Carlos Gonzalez, who could hit anything out of the ballpark right now. Niese deserved the win, and the Mets got it for him with that rally. 

Tyler Clippard worked a 1-2-3 eighth. Jeurys Familia followed with a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 31st save. As long as the starters go seven and hand it to these two, there will be a lot less agora this year.
Now no matter what happens tonight in Los Angeles, the Mets will keep their one game lead in the loss column, and I can wake up in my birthday with a first place Mets team. 

Frank Gifford Played Football?!?!?!

Growing up, I became a New York Giants fan.  I think it had something to do with the fact that my Dad was still bitter over the Jets leaving Shea Stadium and heading to New Jersey.  I remember he claimed to be a Buffalo Bills fan declaring them the one true New York team.  However, his heart never really was in it.  On the other hand, my mother was a Giants fan.  She got me the Giants helmet and jersey set growing up.  Between that and the Giants winning Super Bowl XXI and XXV when I was young, I was hooked.

However, unlike the Mets, I was never raised with any sense of the history of the NFL.  To be fair, the NFL doesn’t really seem interested in it either.  Anyway, I remember sitting there one day and watching a Monday Night Football game with Frank, Al, and Dan, and I asked my father if Frank Giffords got the job  because of Kathy Lee.  You see at that time, Kathy Lee Giffords was huge, and I was a little boy who never had any clue as to who Frank Gifford was.  My father informed me that Frank Giffords was a great football player, a Hall of Famer, who played while my grandfather was alive.  He was a big Giants fan (even had season tickets before he was married).  Sadly, my grandfather had passed, so I did what every other kid would do . . . I went to the library to research Frank Gifford’s football career (remember when people used to do that?).  Well, I discovered that Frank Gifford was an incredible player, who at that time was the best player ever to put on a Giants uniform for a full career.  I was stunned and in disbelief.  How could I never know this happened?

I thought of that day as I learned of Frank Gifford’s passing on Sunday.  It was remarkable that this man could be so great, and I had no idea about it.  It also made me think of Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling.  I grew up with these players.  I love those 1980’s Mets.  If I had enough money, I would buy the team and bring back the racing stripe uniforms.  I would celebrate them (and the 1969 team) constantly at Citi Field.  With the passing of Frank Gifford, I came to think of a better way to celebrate those teams.

I need to let my son know that Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling were not only terrific broadcasters, but they are also two tremendous former Mets players.  I need to share with him their careers as he becomes old enough.  Luckily, Keith and Ron do a better job talking about baseball when they were playing together than Frank Gifford ever did.  This is no slight at Frank Gifford, rather, it’s just an observation on the difference between the styles and how each sport views its history.  If I do my job right, my son will know about Keith and Ron.  If he wants to learn more on his own, I will encourage it.  I only hope that the internet will back up my claims on each player.

So with that said, I will keep the memories alive of those players I cheered for and adored as a child and as an adult.  That’s the best  tribute I can give to Frank Gifford, a man who I knew as someone who excelled only in the broadcast booth.  I wish I was there to see him excel in the field.  Frank Gifford, Rest in Peace.

Why Conforto Needs to be Sent Down Now

We all know Michael Cuddyer is about to be activated from the DL. As anticipated, he will return to a reduced role, which to his credit, Cuddyer is accepting. Mostly, it seems like Cuddyer will PH and play against tough lefties in place of Lucas Duda or Curtis Granderson

What we don’t know is who is getting sent down to make room for Cuddyer: Eric Campbell or Michael Conforto. Sandy Alderson has made overtures that Conforto may stay up with the team. That’s a mistake. 

The first reason is you’re looking to win now. Here is Conforto’s overall triple slash line: .222/.326/.389. I know it’s a small sample size, but with him being drafted last year, there’s not much more to go on. If he’s sent down, I anticipate, the Mets will replace him with Kelly Johnson against righties and Juan Lagares against lefties. 

Against righties, Johnson has a career triple slash line of .243/.330/.420. Against lefties, Juan Lagares has a career triple slash line of .279/.325/.419. Admittedly, these numbers aren’t great (or even that good). However, these numbers are better than what Conforto is putting up right now. Also, if Cuddyer is playing against tough lefties in place of Granderson or Duda, you know the Mets will also bench Conforto. 

The second reason is you’re going to have to send him down eventually. David Wright is beginning rehab games tonight. Whenever he’s ready to be activated (I’ll have update on this later), another player will have to be sent down.  At that time, we know it’ll be the winner of the Conforto/Campbell showdown from today. Wouldn’t it behoove the Mets to send down Conforto to work on things now while there are still AAA games left to be played?  Campbell is who he is.  Conforto will get better. 

We know Conforto will be called up in September when rosters expand. Would it be better to have him playing part time for two weeks or would it be better to get closer attention in the minors?  Kevin Long has to spend time with everyone now. Let Jack Voigt give Conforto work closely with Conforto. This way when Conforto returns he will be even better for the stretch drive and playoffs. 

The last reason is he’s still a prospect. I agree there is some value to sitting on a major league bench. However, I think there is value in playing everyday. He’s been on the bench for 11 games. If he gets sent down now and called up in September, he will sit on a major league bench for an additional 31 games. Does he really need the additional 20 games on the bench?  These are 20 games that can be spent playing and improving.  Let him improve. 

Overall, I’ve been really impressed with Conforto. So much so that I want the Mets to maximize his potential. His potential isn’t getting maximized on a major league bench. Let’s put the best team out there and let Conforto improve. 

On the Wright Track

Today, David Wright will begin playing rehab games in St. Lucie.  This is a good day to be a Mets fan, and we can start the countdown until his arrival back with the team.  So when will that be?

A few weeks ago, I tried to peg when Wright would return to the Mets.  Overall, I noted that David Wright would get a maximum of 20 days on rehab games, under MLB rules, which would mean his return to the team would be Sunday, August 30th, at the latest.  Right now, the Mets  say they are looking for Wright to play in approximately 10 minor league games, barring any setbacks.  Hopefully, the possibility of a setback has been reduced with him seemingly practicing hard for the past five days.

If the Mets do indeed allow Wright the minimum of 10 games, his rehab will be over on August 19th, presuming he plays in 10 consecutive games.  If so, his first game back with the Mets will be on Friday, August 21st in Colorado.  Personally, I think this is a bit optimistic.  First of all, Wright has essentially not played for  the entire season, and they are only going to give him 10  games?  Furthermore, Terry Collins has said he  only wants to play Wright four games in a row when he comes back, but they are going to let him play 10  straight games on a rehab assignment?  Plus, if he’s feeling good, they’re going to effectively fly him cross-country with a bad back?

With that said, I think the earliest return we should  see David Wright is Monday, August 24th in Philadelphia.  It’s a much shorter flight, and the travel from there to New York is a lot easier than Wright going from St. Lucie to Denver to Philadelphia to New York.  Either way, I think it is safe to say Wright’s first game back at Citi Field will be on Friday, August 28th against the Red Sox.  If I’m “wright” the Mets need to get a new design for “Free Shirt Friday.”

Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the Mets, the second baseman, WILMER FLORES!