Biggest Trade Deadline Acquistion: Mets Fans are Back

Say what you want, but I’m the biggest Mets fan there is. Some may have been fans longer. Some may have gone to more games. Some may spend more money on paraphernalia, but there is no bigger Mets fan than me. 

You know what’s great though?  I just wrote that, and there are people legitimately angry at my statement. There are about a million other Mets fans who legitimately feel the same way. Despite what a garbage analysis says, Mets fans are incredible. 

Just look at the way we treated Wilmer Flores after the Carlos Gomez trade disintegrated. We gave Mike Piazza a curtain call when he was a visiting player. The fans gave Carlos Beltran a standing ovation at the 2013 AllStar  Game, and he was wearing a Cardinals uniform. If you don’t think the Mets’ fans register with the players, you’re wrong. 

Back in the old message board days, Todd Pratt would interact with Mets fans under the user name “Tank.”  If you’re a Mets fan on Twitter, Paul Lo Duca will follow you. Mike Piazza himself acknowledged the fans yesterday during the Mets game:

Last night, the fans were great. You could feel the excitement through the television. It was apparent to everyone. Curt Schilling, who  pitched in the NL East when the Mets were very good and very bad, summed it up best when he said, “[s]peaking from experience, this is a not a fan base you want to wake up.”  

That’s the thing with those of us who miss Shea. There were memories there. The baseball at Citi Field has not been good. Aside from the Johan Santana no-hitter, there have been no signature moments. But Shea?  That’s where we saw our first game. That’s where 1969 and 1986 happened. That’s where Piazza seemingly healed New York for one night:

Look at those fans. The whole country was hurting.  At that time, we questioned if it was too soon to come back to New York. We questioned if it would be safe to play a game in New York. They played, and the fans came. They roared as Mike Piazza may have hit the most important homerun ever hit. 

Guess what?  These Mets fans are back.  Like me, we’re bringing our kids with us. I know my son has been getting swept up in the excitement of these games. When I ask him if he wants to watch, he now runs so we can watch it together. He cheers the homeruns. I could not get him to sleep after the three third inning homerun innings last night. He was that excited. 

I’m more excited. I’m dreaming of an NL East title. I’m dreaming of a pennant. I’m dreaming of being able to see a World Series game with my Dad and son. That would be a dream come true. 

This season and team has momentum. I know Mets fans want to and will ride it into October.   David Wright, and to a lesser extent Daniel Murphy, knows how Mets fans can get. I’m excited to show how great we are to a whole new generation of Mets players and fans. If Matt Harvey thought the fans were good during his breakout year, he’s seen nothing yet. 

I can’t wait to see the stands as we begin to get some signature moments at Citi Field. We can finally make this place feel like home. It’s going to be a fun ride. 

Lets Go Mets!

Terry Collins: Manager of the Year Candidate?

I know this is premature, and no, I’m not jinxing anything. I just believe it is time we take stock in how Terry Collins has performed, especially in light of the revelation he was almost fired last year. Obviously, I thought about this today as this is the first time I woke up with the Mets in first place in August in eight years. 

First, let’s start with the pure subjective (it is a subjective award). The Mets were not ideally put in a situation to succeed to start the year. He had the news about his speculated firing. He was handed a miscast SS in Wilmer Flores. Zack Wheeler has not thrown a pitch this year and had Tommy John surgery. There was a weak bench. He lost his closer on Opening Day to injury and a PED suspension. 

There was the David Wright injury.  The team was built without depth and the Mets have effectively gone without their best player for the whole year. There was the Michael Cuddyer ineffectiveness and injury. There was the stop and start if the six man rotation on two separate occasions. There was a historically inept offense and bench. There was a second Mejia PED suspension. 

Through all of this, he kept the Mets close enough to permit Sandy Alderson to add Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, Tyler Clippard, and Yoenis Cespedes. Everyone would’ve understood if the Mets fell apart. Sure, they would’ve been angry, but that anger would’ve been directed at the front office, not Collins. 

Onto more “concrete” analysis, the Mets’ Pythagorean current expected win-loss record is 51-53. They’re outperforming their expected record by four games.  There are some who believe this is more than luck and could be the result of managerial experience and getting the right people in the lineup. We know about the former, but it is questionable how much Collins could’ve done the latter with his old collection of sub-Mendoza line players. Those four games right now are enough for a virtual tie for first place. 

I still think he’s a poor in game manager. Plus, right now, he’s playing his OFers out of position willingly.  However, there’s no denying that he somehow kept this thing together. When the season was on the brink right before the All Star Break, the Mets had a 4-2 trip against the Dodgers and Giants. I think he forced the Mets to get players with how he got this team to keep playing and win enough games. 

Collins deserves recognition now. He was one of two managers the disfunctional Angels forced him into a resignation. He was the Mets’ minor league coordinator when some of these players were working their way through the system. He hasn’t complained with the rosters he’s been given. Overall, he’s been a good man in a tough job. 

His competition right now seems to be Matt Matheny, Clint Hurdle, his former bench coach Joe Maddon, Don Mattingly, and Bruce Bochy. Given the circumstances in which Collins managed, he’s done a much better job than the aforementioned managers. If the Mets make the playoffs, he should be a lock for the award. 

Did the Mets Just Duda That?

On Friday at 3:00 P.M., things were about as bleak as it could be this season. The Carlos Gomez trade fell apart, and there seemed to be bickering as to whether it was due to Gomez’s hip or the Mets’ finances. On Thursday, the Mets’ bullpen inexplicably blew a six run lead

Then it seemed the Mets would add Jay Bruce until they didn’t. It sure looked like the Mets were never going to add a bat. Worst yet, the Nationals were coming into NY after previously taking 2/3 from the stud muffins. This was a Nationals team that went 15-4 against the Mets last year. 

On the eve of the trade deadline, the Mets acquired Yoenis Cespedes. The attention around the Mets changed from despair to hope. This hope continued to grow throughout the weekend. 

On Friday, it was a dominant Matt Harvey and an emotionally satisfying Wilmer Flores’ walk off homerun. On Saturday, it was the Lucas Duda Fireworks Show. Tonight, Thor was once again the story. Thor went eight innings with two two earned and nine strikeouts. 

Thor made the homerun barrage in the third to stand up. On back-to-back pitches, Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy homered. After Cespedes’ first hit as a Met, Duda capped off the five run inning with a homerun of his own. Tyler Clippard, in for Jeurys Familia (who pitched two days in a row), recorded his first save as a Mets. 

The Mets have flipped the script. They swept the Nationals and are now tied for first place in the NL East. I’m so excited that I’ll ignore they’re one behind in the loss column. The Mets are now 38-18 at home. Surprisingly, they’re 7-6 against the Nationals this season.  

The Mets are in a dead heat with the Nationaks and have six head-to-head match ups with them. They have an easy second half schedule. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Mets are in the driver’s seat in the NL East. We’ve waited seven years for this, and so far, it’s been worth the wait. Lets Go Mets!

Plawecki Catching On?

Yesterday, the Mets activated Travis d’Arnaud from the DL, and they surprisingly optioned Anthony Recker to the minors (I guess Bartolo Colon has an excuse again for his poor performance). I was surprised about this because it means Kevin Plawecki is staying on the Mets roster.

I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised because this is what happened the last time d’Arnaud was activated off of the DL. Look I understand the Mets’ reasoning in wanting to ease d’Arnaud back.  He’s an important part of the lineup.  However, if he needs to be eased back, why are they rushing him to the majors?  We know the answer is his bat, but if his elbow is not healthy, he’s not going to hit.  If this isn’t a case of rushing his bat back to the majors, then why did the Mets pick Plawecki over Recker or Monell?

The reason is simple. None of the Mets catchers are hitting. Plawecki is hitting .212/.257/.212 over the past two weeks. Anthony Recker is hitting .123/.254/.228. Al Leiter hit better than that as a 36 year old pitcher.  I know I’m cherry picking there, but I should not be able to pick out any of Leiter’s offensive seasons and compare them to a major league hitter. The last option is Johnny Monell, who is hitting .178/.245/.222. So you could argue, the Mets are going with the option that gives them a chance to win now. However, we should really be asking ourselves if this is the best option for the team.

Kevin Plawecki is a 24 year old catching prospect, who should be playing everyday. While d’Arnaud has been on the DL, Plawecki has been playing everyday. However, now that d’Arnaud is back, I do not see how sitting on the bench is going to help him. Plawecki has been up in the majors for 59 games worth of action. This is more than a cup of coffee. Normally, I would agree that sitting on a major league bench is good exposure for a rookie. However, he’s already done that. Whatever benefit that may have for his has or at least should have sunk in already.

Furthermore, last year when d’Arnaud wasn’t hitting, he was sent down to the minors. Plawecki is in the same situation d’Arnaud was in last year.  When d’Arnaud went down to AAA, he found his stroke. This season he’s hitting .296/.338/.535, albeit in very limited action.  With Plawecki currently struggling at the plate, shouldn’t the Mets consider sending Plawecki down to get him right? Seriously, at this point what’s the difference between Plawecki’s bat and Monell’s bat? If you want to sit d’Arnaud a little, let Colon have Recker as his personal catcher for now. You can always recall Plawecki in September when the rosters expand. God willing, you can have him on the postseason roster over Recker or Monell.

Overall, the Mets’ three priorities right now are: 1) make the postseaon; 2) build a team that can win in October; and 3) don’t do anything that can harm the future of the team. With respect to making the postseason, I don’t see a Plawecki being a difference maker over Recker or Monell in the limited action he’s going to see with d’Arnaud up. With respect to winning in October, I’d rather see Plawecki in the minors getting his swing right and being an option off the bench in September and October. Lastly, having him in the majors right now prevents him from really working to get better.

While I appreciate the Mets are trying to do everything they can to win, I think they are being extremely short sighted with Plawecki right now. He needs to be sent down to the minors to improve for the stretch drive and for seasons to come.

A Cespedes for the Rest of Us

As the strikeouts rained down upon the Mets’ outfielders, Sandy Alderson knew there had to be another way. A new Met would be born, “a Cespedes for the rest of us!

Here’s everything you need to know about Cespedes:

CESPEDES POLE

First, there’s a bat. For Cespedes, we use maple bats. Aluminum bats are too distracting. Just make sure the bat has a very high strength to weight ratio. 

 

THE THROWING OUT OF BASERUNNERS

Yoenis has a lot of problems with baserunners trying to take the extra base, and they’re going to hear about it:

After Yoenis is done with them, these baserunners “couldn’t smooth a silk sheet if they had a hot date with a babe.”  And now as Cespedes “rolls on, we have the Feats of Strength.”  

THE FEATS OF STRENGTH

“Let’s rumble!”

If all comes according to plan, come October, Mets’ fans will see a CESPEDES MIRACLE!

Lucas Duda Provides the Fireworks

In case you didn’t know, Lucas Duda made sure you knew tonight was Fireworks Night. I told you Duda is awesome

His first homerun broke up the no-hitter. The second homerun let deGrom off the hook. deGrom deserved to be let off the hook too. He didn’t have his best stuff, and he was fighting it all night. However, he gave the team six solid innings, allowed only two runs, and gave the team a chance to win. Duda took advantage of that chance. 

As if the two homers weren’t enough, Duda also doubled in Curtis Granderson in the eighth. In this inning, we saw the impact of Yoenis Cespedes’ presence in the lineup. After Granderson’s double and Daniel Murphy grounded out to the pitcher, Cespedes was intentionally walked. Before tonight there was no one in the Mets’ lineup who would’ve merited that. Instead of now feeling pressure to be the entire offense, Duda was able to relax and deliver . . . and boy did he deliver. 

After Hansel Robles shut the door in the right and Duda single-handedly carried the offense to a 3-2 lead, Jeurys Familia slammed the door shut in the ninth. This looked like the Familia of the first half. 

My only qualm tonight was the lineup. It looked like Terry Collins was still drunk from celebrating last night’s win and the Cespedes acquisition. I know we all love the Wilmer Flores’ story, but this is a pennant race, and you need to field your best team (even if he almost hit a HR). That team has an outfield alignment of Cespedes in left, Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Juan Lagares in center, and Granderson in right. The only time you want Kelly Johnson in RF right now is when he’s signing autographs before the game. 

Luckily, this didn’t hurt the Mets. Also, it was good to see Collins put in Lagares late for defense.   It was better to see Duda’s offense and Familia’ dominance again. It’s even better to be a game out with Noah Syndergaard tomorrow. Lets Go Mets!

More Homerun Please Daddy

Normally, when my son sees a television, he starts asking for Elmo. When you don’t acquiesce, he begins to become upset. As you don’t want to upset your child, you usually relent. 

Yesterday, I didn’t immediately relent. I just wanted to finish watching the highlights of the Wilmer Flores’ walk off homerun before putting in that little monster. Before my son could protest, he saw the ball leave Flores’ bat.  First, he let out a “Whoa!” when he saw it go over the left field wall. Then he yelled “Yay!” when he saw the Mets players and coaches celebrating. We shared a high five. 

Now, he wasn’t asking for Elmo. He was asking me to replay the homerun. Thank God for the Roku and You Tube. After each time we saw it, he would say “more homerun please daddy.”  We must’ve watched that homerun 15+ times in a row yesterday. 

Then I took out his Little Tykes’ baseball set. After he hit the ball off the tee (we alternate sides of the plate), he ran around the house screaming homerun!  Apparently, both 20 month olds and chicks dig the long all.  This went on seemingly forever, and I loved every minute of it. 

Last night during the game when everyone came up, he said, “homerun please!”  Lucas Duda was the only one who obliged. Although we missed the first one to bath time, he saw the second. He was excited. Remember, Duda is his favorite player

I used to be happy just because he showed an interest in the game. Now that he knows what a homerun is and he wants to see one is all the more awesome. The fact that he created the moment in our living room still astonishes me. While Duda’s two homeruns were key in the Mets’ win, my favorite homeruns yesterday were the ones hit in my living room. 

Mets Lost the Cespedes Trade

I know Yoenis Cespedes is a huge upgrade for the Mets. He provides power, speed, and good defense. However, unless the Mets win the World Series, this trade is a failure. 

Actually, no. This is a bad trade regardless of the outcome of the Mets season.  The reason why I say this is because Sandy Alderson had the leverage and he caved. 

Cespedes is a unique rental player because he has a clause in his contract that requires his team [the Tigers] to release him once his contract expires.  This prevents the Tigers from extending him a qualifying offer to receive draft pick compensation in the event he signs with another team. A player wants this to prevent what happened to Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales (even if Cespedes’ contract was signed prior to these holdouts). 

Now, because Cespedes would be a released player, as opposed to a free agent, the Tigers would only have five days after the World Series to sign him. If they cannot sign him within that time period, they lose the chance to sign him until after the season starts. 

Cespedes’ agent is Roc Nation, who also represents Robinson Cano and Rusney Castillo. Roc Nation has obtained deals that have been perceived as above the market. In both instances, Roc Nation really let the market develop and bid teams against one another. I know Cespedes wants to resign with the Tigers, but he’s not leaving money on the table. Keep in mind Robinson Cano wanted to remain a Yankee.

This is where it gets interesting. Dave Dombrowski was left with three options: 1) make no deals and try to get into the playoffs; 2) work out a deal now for Cespedes or 3) trade him and be in a better position to sign him in the offseason.  Once the Tigers traded David Price it confirmed they were selling. I’m sure Dombrowski inquired as to whether Cespedes would sign a deal, but I’m equally as sure Cespedes wants to test the market. That means Dombrowski HAD TO TRADE CESPEDES. If he didn’t, he risked losing him for nothing. 

Admittedly, Alderson was in a tough spot. The Carlos Gomez trade fell apart and things got ugly. Wilmer Flores was crying in the field. There were accusations the Mets really nixed the deal over finances. Then Gomez goes to the Astros, who have no problem with his hip. The fans and media were getting tense, if not angry. 

So, we’re left with one GM who must make a deal, and one GM that has pressure but isn’t required to make a deal. Sandy Alderson is the one who blinked. 

It seems all along Dombrowski “badly wanted” Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa.  Fulmer was the Mets’ 2011 supplemental draft pick (#44 overall). Currently, he is Baseball America’s 98th best prospect. Reportedly, the Mets were willing to part with Zack Wheeler in the Gomez deal due to the emergence of Fulmer. Fulmer has a 96-97 MPH fastball with a good slider and good command of both sides of the plate. He has recently been compared to Matt Garza and Garrett Richards. This is another way of saying he’s a #2 starter with a real competitive streak. 

Cessa is a project. He’s converted to pitcher and he is developing his repertoire in AAA. He can throw 95 MPH and is working on his off speed stuff. As you can see, there may be promise here, but he’s probably a bullpen arm, at best. He’s not the player that haunts you in a deal like this. 

The player that haunts you is Fulmer, who has already been described as an “unbelievable get for a rental.”  Not just a rental, but a rental the Mets probably can’t resign (financial issues aside). I’ve seen the Mets and their fans argue Fulmer is not part of the Mets’ core talent, whatever that means. I’ve seen Fulmer described as not being one of the Mets top five prospects. So what?  You trade value for value. 

It’s funny. I don’t see these same people noting the Mets just gave the Tigers their 5th and 9th best prospects. I don’t think I would’ve been happy with just Fulmer in the deal. Keep in mind this is the Mets gave up for a rental.  In fact on Baseball Tonight, Keith Law stated the Mets gave up their two best pitching prospects left in the farm system. 
I understand you have to give value to get value. That’s why I initially supported the Gomez trade and like the proposed Jay Bruce deal (I also agreed with the Mets that once the Reds ask for more, you have to walk away). However, Cespedes had dwindling value to the Tigers. He was more valuable to them with another team at this time.

Frankly, Alderson either blinked, panicked, or didn’t judge his prospects properly. This is unacceptable when you have the leverage.  I think Cespedes is a great addition, but the Mets gave up way too much. I don’t see why the Mets are going all-in when:

  1. They are in second place to a healing Nationals’ team;
  2. They are behind the Pirates, Giants, and Cubs in the Wild Card race; and
  3. Their pitchers are nearing their innings limits.

This was not the season to go all-in. Sure, you try to improve, but you don’t give up trade assets you’ll need next year, when you’re presumably a better team, to take you to the next level. Also, keep in mind they went all-in without shoring up all of their holes. They still need a SS and a LOOGY. Plus, they’re still a healthy David Wright from being a good offense. Can we trust he’ll come back this year and produce like David Wright?  

I really hope they win the World Series because if they don’t, they took what could’ve been a year to build on to a complete failure. 

New Fan Favorite

After the Carlos Gomez trade fell through, I wrote how Wilmer Flores is a role model. We can add another title to that: fan favorite. 

Last night, he received four standing ovations. Each of them more deserving than the next. As Terry Collins’ noted, the fans picked him up. This was important because, as Matt Harvey noted, Flores has been through a lot. Naturally, his teammates were happy for him (as were the fans). Collins basically said everything that happened last night couldn’t have happened to a better man. 

Isn’t that great?  It’s fun rooting for good players. It’s nice to root for good guys. It’s incredible to root for both. While, I think the jury is out on whether Flores will become a good player, we know he will work at it. He deserves the fans admiration, and Mets’ fans know how to treat their favorites. For example, Mike Piazza received a curtain call as a visiting player. 

Today of all days, it’s important to root for the good guy. On the same morning as the Flores’ love fest, we discovered New York Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was arrested while driving 143 MPH with a 12 year old in the backseat. Oh yeah, he also threw weed out the window. This comes off the heels of other disgusting NFL stories from Ray Rice to Greg Hardy. 

I’m not saying MLB and its players are perfect. By no means. I’m sure you can find several stories (like Tony LaRussa’s DWI). However, I don’t recall a MLB player with a domestic violence problem. I am saying that it is nice to watch a sport where the main focus is what is on the field more than what happens off of it. 

This is a reason why I lament the rise of the NFL. Now, I realize most NFL players are good guys. However, the sport is always dominated by negative news from “recreational” drug suspensions to steroid use to cheating scandals to domestic violence issues. I don’t want my son to be constantly exposed to that. 

I want to enjoy sports with my son. I want him to have role models. I don’t care what Charles Barkley said, children will always look up to their favorite players. I just wish more of this players were more like Wilmer Flores and less like Sheldon Richardson. 

Harvey is Real

It looks like the Mets made the biggest addition at the trade deadline this year. Yoenis Cespedes?  No. Travis d’Arnaud?  Nonsense. The Mets got Matt Harvey back. I don’t think Mets fans believed he was real anymore. 

Harvey is a 1950 film starring Jimmy Stewart. Jimmy Stewart’s character is a grown man whose best friend is a 6’3″ invisible rabbit. Everyone thinks he’s crazy that he had seen this rabbit. A comparison for people more my age is Snuffleupagus. Anyway, I was starting to feel like Jimmy Stewart. 
For his part, Harvey thinks he finally put it all together in his last start. It showed tonight. He was perfect through 5.1 innings. He got out of a subsequent jam without letting up a run. In the seventh, there was some soft hits starting another rally. However, he got out of that jam when Juan Lagares reminded everyone he’s a terrific CF in chasing a ball down in the right center field gap. Overall, Lagares seemed to have an extra hop in his step tonight. It really showed in the field. 
The eighth inning was not kind to Harvey. There was a phantom HBP call, which was upheld by replay. Two singles later, and the score was tied at one. A good defensive SS (which the Mets ha no interest in at the trade deadline) would’ve at least knocked it down. 

Initially, Tyler Clippard came in and made Sandy Alderson look great by striking out Jayson Werth looking on a 3-2 count after a lengthy at bat (it wasn’t a strike). He then walked two batters in the ninth forcing Terry Collins to bring in Jeurys Familia, who got out of the inning. 

After the Gomez drama, we finally had a Wilmer Flores sighting. With Collins’ platoon system, he started on 2B, made a nice defensive play, and knocked in the first run that looked like it was going to hold up. He had received three standing ovations from the fans. Sorry make that FOUR with his walk-off homerun in the twelfth. You have to love and respect this kid. 

By the way, the platoon system was on acid today. With the lefty Gio Gonzalez starting, the Mets went with Wimer Flores at second, Juan Uribe at third, Juan Lagares in center, and Eric Campbell in left?!?!?  Furthermore, Daniek Murphy was at first because, why not?  

This was the biggest win of the year in the biggest series of the year. Because the Mets smartly set their rotation coming out of the All Star Break, they throw Jacob deGrom tomorrow and Noah Syndergaard on Sunday. Oh yeah, some guy named Yoenis Cespedes makes his debut for the Mets tomorrow. I heard he can hit the ball out in Citi Field

Time to get excited Mets fans. We have meaningful games in August.