My MVP Vote

As a member of the IBWAA, I have an opportunity to vote for the NL & AL MVP Awards. With the email, there were no instructions. For guidance, I looked at the BBWAA rules, which in summation, are as follows:

  1. The player need not play for a playoff team;
  2. The amount of games played; and
  3. The total value of the player (offense, defense, and character). 

These are good guidelines, but I’m not beholden to them. Here are some other things I intend to consider:

  1. Weight should be given to the player in a pennant race;
  2. A team not making the playoffs is not a penalty to a player if the team is in a pennant race;
  3. Pitchers can be considered for the award. 

Now, I have not made up my mind yet on all 10 slots in the AL and NL right now, so I can’t show you how I will apply my criteria. What I can do is show you my thoughts on past races. 

I agree with the results of the 1998 NL MVP Award. I put more weight to Sammy Sosa beating Mark McGwire even though McGwire had the better year. Sosa’s team was in a playoff race. I think there was enough there to give Sosa a boost over McGwire. Although now, truth be told with what we know about steroids, I think the award should have gone to Moises Alou

I highly disagree with the results of the results of the 1999 AL MVP Award going to Ivan Rodriguez (steroids aside). Pedro Martinez was the best baseball player on the planet that year. His team was in a pennant race. Pudge was maybe the fifth best choice for AL MVP. 

Now, as you may tell I like WAR. It’s not perfect, but it at least attempts to measure offense and defense. It attempts to equate a SS to a 1B. However, I’m aware of its limitations. Accordingly, I don’t see it as the end all, be all of stats. Similarly, I’m not focusing on HRs and RBIs. It’s a balancing.

I’m not done with the balancing yet. Once I am, I’ll submit my ballot. For this site, I’ll publish my entire ballot. I’ll do a short post on why I picked the players I picked to win the award. When and if I vote for Mets, I’ll do a longer post on that player. 

In the meantime, if you have suggestions, please put them in the comments. I assure you I’ll read them and consider them. Thanks. 

Mets Magic Number is 6

Even though the Mets lost, the Mets Magic Number is now 6 because the Nationals lost to the Orioles. With the Mets having two Rule 5 picks pitching in a game, and both of the Mets young catchers getting into the game, I thought the best choice for magic number 6 would be Kelly Shoppach:

  
In 2012, the 74-88 Mets traded for the impending free agent Shoppach for a player to be named later. The idea was to get a good look at him to see if the team wanted to re-sign him and/or to get him to work with Josh Thole. Neither one would be back. 

Shoppach only hit .203/.276/.342 in 28 games. His play did not inspire the Mets to re-sign him. Thole would be moved in the famed R.A. Dickey trade that netted the Mets 2015 cornerstones, Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud

The player to be named in the Shoppach deal was Pedro Beato, a former Rule 5 draft pick like Sean Gilmartin is this year. We did learn this year the player to be named later was almost Jacob deGrom, which would’ve been disastrous. Note, Sandy Alderson was reported to be alright with trading deGrom at the time until one of his advisors warned him not to make the deal. 

But I digress. The seeds of the 2015 Mets were laid in the 2012 offseason. Much of the way the roster is currently constituted has to do with the Shoppach trade and his faired as a Met. If he succeeded, it’s possible he stays, and who knows what happens with d’Arnaud from there?  Maybe nothing changes?  Maybe Shoppach isn’t as effective a mentor as John Buck. My doctor won’t let me address the deGrom possibilities. 
So as the Shoppach trade arguably set the wheels in motion, let’s offer a hat tip to Magic Man Number 6 Kelly Shoppach. 

Cool September Air Keeps Mets Bats Cold

Today was the first day that it truly felt like September. Everything was a little cooler, including the Mets bats

Coming into tonight, Braves starter, Matt Wisler, had a 5.63 ERA and a 1.633 WHIP in 16 starts (and one relief appearance). Loosely translated, he’s been terrible. Naturally, the Mets could only muster five hits and a walk off of him while striking out eight times. Thankfully, one of those hits was a David Wright opposite field homerun. It wasn’t enough. 

Logan Verrett cruised through his first four innings before hitting trouble in the fifth. He allowed a solo homerun to Jace Peterson and a three run shot to Hector Olivera (after Terry Collins ordered an IBB). Quickly, a 1-0 lead became a 4-0 deficit. Sean Gilmartin (two innings) and Hansel Robles pitched well to keep the Mets in the game into the eighth. 
The Mets would rally in the eighth with bases loaded and one out. Michael Cuddyer, pinch hitting for Lucas Duda (because, egad, a lefty was on the mound), hit a sac fly scoring Curtis Granderson, who started the rally with a leadoff walk. Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] grounded out to shortstop to end the rally.  Tyler Clippard would get roughed up in the ninth for two runs. Ultimately, the Mets would lose 6-2. 

If you’re looking for a highlight, other than the Wright opposite field homerun, it was Michael Conforto‘s defense. He threw out A.J. Pierzynski trying to stretch a single into a double after a Flores’ misplay on a ball in the Bermuda Triangle. He also had a nice diving stop in the seventh. 

Mets have now lost three of four, and I’m still not worried. Their division lead remains 6.5 games. They’ll snap out of this cold spell soon. If they time it right, they’ll be hot heading I to October. 

New York is a Packers Town

Coming off an emotional Subway Series and the Jets playing on Monday Night Football, I was curious to see what the Mets ratings were against the NFL. I wasn’t shocked when the NFL has the better night:

My first impression was I wasn’t surprised. Right now all Indy has is the Colts. New York has the Mets and Yankees in pennant races, and they were both playing last night. The Yankees have a huge series against the Blue Jays. I decided to dig deeper and see who watched what:

Unsurprisingly, the NFL had the better night. Wait!  What?  Those are Sunday night’s numbers. The Giants and Jets weren’t playing. The Mets and Yankees are in pennant races. There was the whole Matt Harvey angle. This lost to Seahwaks-Packers in September?  I mean, I knew the NFL reigned supreme, but New York?

How can New York hold itself out as a great sports city when it can’t support its local teams when they’re good?  What’s MLB’s plan of attack to counteract this?  New York is baseball. It’s the home of “Willie, Mickey, and the Duke.”  It’s where Jackie Robinson changed sports forever. It’s now the place where football reigns supreme. 

I’m still raising my son to be a Mets fan.  Right now, he loves baseball and the Mets. He watched Sunday night with me. Seemingly, we were the only ones. 

The Mets Bullpen is Great

When the Mets added Addison Reed right before the waiver trade deadline, the Mets had their sights set on a shutdown 7-8-9 featuring three closers. So far, each of them have performed extremely well.

You know what’s shocking?  Even though the Mets have had the Addison Reed-Tyler ClippardJeurys Familia triumvirate together for three weeks, they only appeared together in the same game only three times. They’ve never collectively blown a lead, but the tandem has only resulted in one save. Like last night, it had more to do with the Mets tacking on eighth inning runs more than anything. 

In any event, Mets fans can be confident the bullpen can hold leads and/or keep the Mets in a game. I also believe the Mets will ride this trio hard because the Mets starters go deep into games. Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey average 6.1 innings per start (average rounded down to nearest third of an inning). Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz average 6.0 innings per start (major league starts only). Bartolo Colon averages six innings per start. Jon Niese isn’t going to start in the playoffs. 
If you’re starters are going at least six, you only need your triumvirate. If your starters are going less than five, you’re in trouble anyway. Even if you need to pull a starter early, there are viable options. Hansel Robles has been terrific, especially in the second half with a 2.60 ERA, 0.904 WHIP, 12.4 K/9, and a triple slash of .173/.250/.429. He’s been good enough to consider him as part of a 6-7-8-9 shut down bullpen. 

In a do or die game, Terry Collins has shown he will manage accordingly. He will have a quick hook and trust his key bullpen arms. If he will lean heavily on these three or four guys that’s good news. Familia for one has shown the ability to go multiple innings. I imagine Collins is going to ride him like Joe Torre rode Mariano Rivera (calm down, it’s only a usage comparison). 

For people worrying about the 11 runs allowed by the bullpen on Sunday, don’t. Robles had a hick up. He’s allowed. Eric O’Flaherty pitched in that game while the game was still in the balance. He won’t pitch in the playoffs. I’m going to discount this game especially with the rough Robles outing and the relievers that appeared in the game. 

Overall, the Mets bullpen is in great shape heading into the playoffs. They can stretch out their main four guys in a do or die game. These guys can keep a game close or hold a lead. I’m even confident after the last Nationals series, Collins will deploy them properly and out them in a position to succeed. 

Surprisingly, the bullpen is a major strength of this team . . . even if no one is saying it. 

Wilmer Flores

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

Mets Magic Number is Seven

The Mets never seem to get it right sometimes. The Yankees got Hideki Matsui, and the Mets got Kaz Matsui. The Mariners get Ichiro, and the Mets get Tsuyoshi Shinjo. The Royals have two sport superstar Bo Jackson, and the Mets get Magic Man Number 7 D. J. Dozier:

 

Dozier was a football player. He was a first round draft NFL pick by the Vikings and an 18th round draft pick by the Tigers. In the NFL, he’d get stuck behind Barry Sanders and Hershel Walker. He theoretically signed (as a minor league free agent) with the Mets for that reason. Basically, he was John Elway, but he stuck with baseball. 

While in the Mets’ organization, he began to rise. He was ranked as the #44 Best prospect in all of baseball. He stayed with the Mets due to his unhappiness with the Vikings. The trouble is he never really panned out. He finally made the Mets in 1992 on the “Worst Team Money Can Buy.”  He hit .191/.264/.498 in only 25 games. 

This is a cold reminder that typically the Mets are reactive instead of progressive. It’s a time when moves didn’t pan out. This move seemed more of the same like when Michael Cuddyer struggled right out of the gate.  It looked like another lost year at times with the struggling offense. As we know, it didn’t happen that way. 

This year the moves and call-ups have panned out. Michael Conforto has been great.  We know about Yoenis Cespedes and his incredible hot streak after coming over to the Mets. This isn’t 1992 anymore. The Mets can win this year. This is why I like remembering players like Dozier. I want to see the progress of the team, and I like people are seeing how things are different now. 

So with that said, let’s offer a hat tip to magic man number seven D. J. Dozier. 

This Win Was Brought to You by Chapstick

If nothing else, Daniel Murphy keeps things interesting. He’s just as likely to make an amazing play as he is to make a routine play look like an adventure.  He will hit a double and then get lost on the way to third. 

Today was no exception. In the first inning, he singled setting up first and second with no out. After a Yoenis Cespedes single and a Lucas Duda popout, Travis d’Arnaud hit into the routine 5-4-6 double play. It wasn’t really routine, it was a classic Murphy TOOBLAN.  Murphy assumed the play was over and he got caught between second and third. He got burned so bad, he had to apply Chapstick. No, that’s not a joke. He literally applied Chapstick after the play.

Since it wasn’t a continuation play, the run counted giving the Mets a 1-0 lead. In the second, the lead would expand to 2-0 on a Michael Conforto opposite field homerun. Actually, it wasn’t a Conforto homerun, it was a:

Murphy would redeem himself for killing the first inning rally by hitting a two RBI double in the seventh scoring the pinch running Eric Young, Jr. (8 runs scored, no hits for the Mets) and Curtis Granderson (1-3, two walks, and two runs scored). Once again Granderson was a catalyst. Once again Murphy giveth and Murphy taketh. 

On the pitching side, Jon Niese pitched well after eight days of rest. He got a number of groundballs. His final line was six innings, three hits, two walks, and two strikeouts. Some questioned pulling him after six innings and 88 pitches, but I agree with Terry Collins. He’s been so bad lately that you get him out of there whe he’s feeling good, and he gave you enough depth. 

The 7-8-9 of Addison ReedTyler ClippardJeurys Familia combined to preserve the 4-0 win. Nothing like a bad Braves team and some Chapstick to smooth over the rough stretch and help get the Mets a win. 

Mets Are Cold, Can Still Hit Lefties

Last night, the Mets were dominated by CC Sabathia, who has not been good for three years. He has a 4.80 ERA. Last year, it was a 5.28 ERA. Two years ago, it was 4.78. This was all the more disturbing because the Mets featured an almost all righty lineup

This is alarming because the Mets will face three lefty starters in the first round. This triumvirate features Clayton KershawAlex Wood, and Brett Anderson. Each of these pitchers are significantly better than Sabathia has been this year. Since I was concerned, I decided to look at the numbers. 

The first thing I noticed was the Mets bats have gone cold. Over the past week, the Mets are hitting .194/.263/.  This means we shouldn’t put too much emphasis on one start or anything that has happened over the past week. Accordingly, we should focus on the lefty-right splits over the course of the season:

  • vs. LH starters .244/.310/.401
  • vs. RH starters .245/.313/.399

Essentially, the Mets hit righties and lefties equally well. That doesn’t mean I’m confident about their chances against Kershaw, but it does mean I’m not going to panic when Wood and Anderson start. 

The Mets have two weeks to snap out of this slump. Once they do, it shouldn’t matter who’s on the mound . . . so long as it’s not Kershaw or Greinke

Collins is Inconsistent

I was talking to one of my loyal readers a while back, my cousin Brian, and he said to me, “you really hate Terry Collins.”  Honestly, I don’t. I think he’s a good man that makes baffling moves. However, I will admit he irked me yesterday. Here is his quote regarding Matt Harvey:

It’s hard for me to get it, because I am, at heart, the old-school guy. But I understand where it’s coming from. Therefore, you adjust to it. Because I’ve said before, there’s a lot of things in our game today I don’t necessarily agree with. You either adjust to it, or get out. So, I’m adjusting to it.

I read that as a veiled shot at Harvey and the innings limits. I read that as Collins wanting to push Harvey in a relatively meaningless September game when he should be getting his team ready for the playoffs. I wasn’t expecting that from him. 

When it came to Johan Santana and his no-hitter, Collins was moved to tears over the possibility of ruining the guy’s career post-surgery. Three years later, Collins said he was still affected by it. He says he’s learned from it, and he will act accordingly. I don’t think he was lying. I just think old habits and views are tough to break. 

I think he admires Johan for going out there and getting it, as we all should. I think he has disdain for the innings limits, but he just won’t come out and say it. It’s amazing the man crying over possibly ruining a guy’s career for a moment of glory is irked by getting a young pitcher rest so he can pursue his moment of glory. 

I thought Collins learned something three years ago, and maybe because of that, he was the right guy to handle Harvey this year. I saw a guy that wanted to protect his players. I saw a guy who knew the right time to go for it. I guess I was wrong.