Bartolo Colon

Trivia Friday – Bartolo Colon’s Mets Teammates?

With Wednesday’s start, Bartolo Colon faced off against many of his former teammates including his former catcher Travis d’Arnaud and his fellow rotation mate Jacob deGrom.  Overall, in Colon’s three years with the Mets, he has made many teammates, and during the course of the season, he will face many of them.

What is interesting about Colon is that he has played with many former Mets before he even put on a Mets uniform.  In fact, Colon’s teammates with other teams have ties to the Mets dating back as far as 1984.  In total, Colon has played with 71 former or current Mets in a location other than New York.  Can you name those players?  Good luck!


Kevin Mitchell Dwight Gooden Tony Fernandez Jason Jacome David Segui Paul Byrd Carl Everett Edgardo Alfonzo Carlos Baerga Jeff Tam Masato Yoshii Octavio Dotel Shawon Dunston Shane Halter Orel Hershiser Rich Rodriguez Jerrod Riggan Rick White Matt Lawton Tom Martin Kane Davis Steve Reed Roberto Alomar Mike Bacsik David Weathers Gary Matthews Graeme Lloyd Cliff Floyd Karim Garcia Matt Ginter Ricky Gutierrez Brian Daubach Danny Graves Ramon Castro Darren Oliver Julio Franco Ricky Ledee Jose Valentin Endy Chavez Jon Adkins Sandy Alomar Aaron Sele Scott Schoeneweis Tony Armas Luis Ayala Gustavo Molina Ricardo Rincon Brian Schneider David Justice Fernando Tatis Lance Broadway Alex Cora Francisco Rodriguez Chris Carter Raul Valdes Jason Bay R.A. Dickey Willie Harris D.J. Carrasco Jack Egbert David Aardsma Collin Cowgill Aaron Laffey Carlos Torres Chris Young Buddy Carlyle Eric O’Flaherty Jerry Blevins Curtis Granderson Yoenis Cespedes

Matt Kemp: Newest Mets Killer

Baseball and fandom is a funny thing sometimes. It gives you chances of redemption, but ultimately you are what you are. We would see that tonight with Bruce and Montero in the Mets disappointing 12 inning 3-1 loss to the Braves. 

In the fifth inning, it was the guy Mets fans didn’t want to see go in Bartolo Colon against the guy Mets fans didn’t want to see return in Jay Bruce. Colon was by far the most popular of the two. You could even argue Mets fans don’t like Bruce.

And yet, when Bruce sent a Colon pitch over the right field wall, and the Mets took a 1-0 lead, Mets fans were thrilled. 

The Mets needed that home run too. Colon was dealing. Now, it wasn’t unusual to see Colon have a good game, but it was unusual to see him at the velocity he was sitting at during the game. Unlike his time with the Mets, Colon was sitting in the low 90s, and he got it up to 94 multiple times. 

While Colon’s velocity was surprising, Jacob deGrom‘s wasn’t. After offseason surgery, he was back in the upper 90s and hitting 98 on the gun. Watching tonight, deGrom was back both in terms of velocity and results. 

On the night, deGrom pitched six brilliant scoreless innings. His final line was 6.0 innings, two hits, no runs, one walk, and six strikeouts. However, he did not get the win. 

After an impressive Opening Day appearance, Hansel Robles struggled tonight. He allowed a hard line drive off the bat of Nick Markakis that Bruce played into a triple. It took Bruce forever to get to that ball. 

Robles then walked Brandon Phillips on four pitches that were not particularly close. Adonis Garcia followed this by ripping a double into right field tying the game. 

Two important points about the double. First, it was definitively deep enough to tie the game, but it was a ball a right fielder should catch. Second, Asdrubal Cabrera pulled a Chuck Knoblauch and absolutely deked Phillips as he got to second base. 

The hesitation by Phillips was enough to keep him from scoring on a play he should have scored on. It kept the score tied 1-1. 

After Robles hit Kurt Suzuki to load the bases, Terry Collins turned to Jerry Blevins to get out of the bases loaded one out jam. 

Blevins reared back and struck out Emilio Bonifacio on a 3-2 pitch and induced Ender Inciarte to ground out. With that, Blevins got out of a jam and gave his team a chance. 

After Fernando SalasAddison Reed, and Josh Edgin combined to pitch a scoreless eighth, ninth, and tenth. 

Edgin’s outing was particularly encouraging. He was locating well, and he ended the tenth by striking out Mets killer Freddie Freeman

After the Mets wasted a one out Bruce hustle double in the tenth, the Mets turned to Rafael Montero   in the eleventh. 

Things didn’t start well when Montero issued a lead-off walk to Matt Kemp. Mets killer Brandon Phillips followed with a one out single, his 37th consecutive game with a hit in Flushing, putting runners at the corners. Then something interesting happened. Montero bore down. 

He got ahead of Garcia, and he kept Garcia off balance eventually inducing him to hit into an inning ending 4-6-3 double play. 

Montero’s luck ran out in the 12th. He gave up a lead off single, and he loaded the bases with one out. While he got Dansby Swanson to ground out, he allowed Kemp to hit the go-ahead two run double after Freeman was intentionally walked. 

It was a three double game for new Met killer Matt Kemp on a team of Mets killers. However, that really killed the Mets was an offense that couldn’t hit a poor Braves bullpen. 

Game Notes:  Mets starters have yet to allow a run this year. Jose Reyes had struggled to begin the season. He is now 0-9, and he made an error in the eighth inning.  Neil Walker is also looking for his first hit. Michael Conforto made his first punch hitting appearance of the year flying out to deep center. In the tenth, Duda was intentionally walked; that is, he was assigned first base. 

Trivia Friday – Most Opening Day Starts

With Noah Syndergaard slated to go on Monday, this marks the sixth straight year the Mets have had a different Opening Day starter.  Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon, and Matt Harvey each got a turn, but they never got the opportunity to be the Opening Day starter in a subsequent season.  Hopefully with Syndergaard, this year begins a long run of Opening Day starts for a pitcher that is on threshold of being an all time great.

If Syndergaard does that, he will join nine other Mets pitchers who have made multiple Opening Day starts.  Can you name them?  Good luck!


Tom Seaver Dwight Gooden Tom Glavine Johan Santana Bobby Jones Al Leiter Roger Craig Al Jackson Craig Swan

Jose Reyes Isn’t Good Enough For This Nonsense

It’s a fact of life that if you are supremely talented, you get away with more than other people.  It’s an unfortunate fact of life.  However, what is baffling is when people who aren’t even that good get away with stuff.

Take Jose Reyes.

Last year, Reyes was a .267/.326/.443 hitter in 60 games for the Mets.  If you’re being honest, that is much worse than you would have thought considering the fanfare that surrounded him last year.  Over the past three seasons, Reyes has been a .279/.321/.400 hitter who averages 21 stolen bases a year.  While people are arguing that he’s the Mets best leadoff hitter, he’s not even good enough to play everyday.  Certainly, his 96 OPS+ and his 96 wRC+ will tell you he is a below average hitter.  Basically speaking, the argument should be whether he should be batting eighth or if he should be playing at all.

However, he is playing because David Wright can’t right now.  He’s playing because Wilmer Flores is a platoon bat, and the Mets refuse to admit a guy who hit .239/.293/.371 against right-handed pitcher last year is every bit the platoon bat Flores is.  The Mets are also not willing to give T.J. Rivera a shot at the third base job due in part to his OBP fully ignoring Reyes’ .321 OBP the last three years.  Gavin Cecchini won’t get a chance to play third because he’s never played there before.  Of course, that didn’t stop the Mets from playing Reyes there last year.

Simply put, there is a wide chasm between the Jose Reyes that was a superstar with the Mets from 2003 – 2011 and the player Reyes is now.  Consider in Reyes’ first stint with the Mets, he was a .292/.341/.441 hitter who averaged 25 doubles, 11 triples, nine homers, and 41 stolen bases a year while playing a good defensive shortstop.  Now?  Reyes doesn’t have the same ability to hit, the same speed, or is that good defensively.  Also, consider the distraction Reyes is.

Last year, Reyes was arrested for allegedly beating his wife.  The only reason the case did not go to trial was because Reyes’s wife did not cooperate with prosecutors.  After serving a suspension and being released, Reyes found himself back on the Mets.  It was that rare second chance.  Still, Reyes could not be on his best behavior.

Now, we find out, much like Bartolo Colon, Reyes has another family.  Apparently, in addition to allegedly beating his wife, Reyes also has an alleged history of cheating on his wife.  He also has a child with his paramour, who claims that not only does Reyes not see his child, but he also does not pay sufficient child support.  Reyes’ attorneys state he has met his obligations.  Reading between the lines, this may reference child support, which is still to be determined, but not in terms of being an actual father to his other daughter.

Look, it could be a case of someone trying to maximize upon Reyes being back with the Mets.  The child support claims could be patently false.  However, it does not change the fact that it gets harder and harder to root for Reyes.  It does not change the fact that Reyes is no longer a good baseball player . . . that is unless you expect him to be that rare middle infielder whose game is predicated upon speed to get better during a season in which he turns 34 years old.

At this point, you have to ask yourself, what’s next with Reyes?  How much longer can the Mets put up with this nonsense?  Turns out, it will be quite a while because the team is only paying him $507,500 this year.

The funny thing is the Mets once took a stand against stuff like this like they did when Francisco Rodriguez attacked his girlfriend’s father.  For that, the Mets put him on the restricted list.  Then again, the Mets found their courage there because K-Rod was making a little over $12 million back in 2010.  Perhaps if K-Rod was making the league minimum, the Mets would have ignored that situation as well.

So, despite the Mets having legitimately better options, and Reyes possibly serving as a distraction, the team will keep the cheap player because in reality the Mets only really have the courage to do the right thing when they owe a player actual money.  It’ll be interesting to see the Mets no comments or diversion tactics if something else happens with Reyes.  Based on recent history with him, you can’t discount that from happening.

And To Think That I Saw It At Citi Field

* adapted from “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” by Dr. Seuss

When I leave home to go to Citi Field,
Dad always says to me,
“John, keep your eyelids up
And see what you can see.”

But when I tell him where I’ve sat
And what happened each at-bat,
He looks at me and sternly says,
“You did not see all of that.

Stop telling such an outlandish story.
Juan Lagares cannot cover that much territory.”

Now, what can I say
About what I saw today?

All the long way to the game
And all the way back,
I’ve looked and I’ve looked
From the outfield to the bat rack,
But all that I’ve noticed,
Except the green infield,
Was d’arnaud and Matz
At Citi Field

That’s nothing to tell of,
That won’t do, I know . . .
Just the starting pitcher Steven Matz
Hurling pitches to Travis d’Arnaud.

That can’t be my story.  That’s only a start.
I’ll say that a GAZELLE was pitching instead of a Bart!
Add that is a story that no one can beat,
When I say that I saw it at Citi Field.

Yes, the Gazelle is fine,
He gives batters a migraine,
There’s another marvelous pitcher
Who’s stuff is much more insane.
The story could be so much more
If the pitcher I saw were Thor.
An orange and blue capped pitcher’s fastballs are profound,
Rumbling like thunder from the mound!

No, it won’t do at all . . .
There’s another with the ball.

Zack Wheeler is better;
He’s come back round,
And he’s ready to for a start
On the Citi Field mound

Hold on a minute!
There’s something wrong!
The bullpen is the place for this dealer
It’s off to the bullpen for Zack Wheeler,

It’d be much better, it might,
If the start went to the Dark Knight.

Hmmm . . . A Dark Knight . . .
Say – anyone could think of that,
Dick or Kevin or Dan or Pat
Say, even Terry could think of that.

But it isn’t too late to make one little change.
This story is about Yoenis Cespedes!  No longer on the driving range!

He’s got plenty of power and size,
You can see the opposing pitcher with fear in his eyes.
A then, the sound system emits a loud tone,
Cespedes the Lion King!  Perched high on a throne!

Say!  That makes a batter that no one can heel,
When I say that I saw it at Citi Field.

But now I don’t know . . .
It still doesn’t seem right.

A Cespedes swinging a bat that’s so light
Would hit balls around in the air like a kite.

But he’d look simply extreme
With a great New York Mets team!

A team that’s that good should have someone to see it,
Wins coming so fast, the Nationals finding it hard to keep near it.
Nationals always the trailer!  They’ll be out of their mind
Not even Daniel Murphy can get them out from behind.

But now is if fair?  Is it fair what I’ve done?
Before they take the field, they’ve already won.
That’s really too heavy a load for one beast;
I’ll give him some helpers.  He needs two, at least.

Michael Conforto to do the trick,
To guide them after the intentional walk schtick –
It takes a lineup to do the trick.
They’ll never lose now.  They’ll race at top speed
With Curtis Granderson, himself, in the lead.

The Manager is there
And he thinks it is grand,
And he raises his hat
As they rise from their seats in the stands.

The Manager is there
Sandy Alderson too,
All waving big banners
The stands are becoming a zoo.

And that is a team whose championship is sealed
When I say that I saw it at Citi Field!

With a roar of its motor an airplane appears
The pitcher steps off the mound and everyone jeers.

And that makes a story that’s really not bad!
But it still could be better.  Suppose that I add . . . . . . . . .

. . . A David Wright
Who can stay upright . . .

A big Duda
Swinging sticks . . .

A Jacob deGrom
And his garden gnome . . .

No time for more,
Cespedes’ coming home.

He swung ’round third base
And dashed towards the plate,
The Mets ran up the steps
And I felt simply GREAT!

FOR I HAD A STORY THAT NO ONE COULD YIELD!
AND TO THINK THAT I SAW IT AT CITI FIELD!

But Dad said quite calmly,
“Take the parking pass off the windshield
And tell me the sights
That you saw at Citi Field”

There was so much to tell, I JUST COULDN’T BEGIN!
Dad looked at me sharply stroking the beard at his chin.
He frowned at me sternly from there from the front seat,
“Was there nothing to look at . . . no great feat?
Did nothing excite you or make you jump out of your seat?”

“Nothing,” I said, now becoming more even-keeled,
“But a Matz pitching to d’Aranud at Citi Field.”

The End.

Last year’s story “One Strike, Two Strikes, Three Strikes, You’re Out!” can be found here

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

 

Mets May Have Enough Internal Bullpen Options

With Baseball America‘s Adam Rubin reporting the Mets are considering using low A starter P.J. Conlon out of the bullpen, the Mets are really giving the impression that they may not sign any relief pitchers this offseason. This would coincide with earlier reports the Mets may not have the budget to acquire another player unless the team is able to trade an outfielder, namely Jay Bruce. When considering the difficulties the Mets have in trading Bruce, it’s becoming increasingly more likely the Mets will use internal options to build their bullpen.

The Mets should have varying degrees of confidence in returning relief pitchers Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed, and Hansel Robles. Last season, Reed and Familia combined to be the best 8-9 combination in baseball. Robles has shown versatility whether it was his bailing Jim Henderson out of a bases loaded no out jam or pitching 3.2 innings because Bartolo Colon left a game in the first inning with an injury.

While the Mets should have confidence in these three pitchers, they still need at least four other arms to complete their bullpen. Here are the leading options:

RIGHT-HANDED RELIEVERS

RHP Seth Lugo – While he should get the opportunity to compete with Robert Gsellman for a spot in the rotation, indications are Lugo will land in the bullpen. In limited bullpen duty last year, Lugo was terrific. In his nine relief appearances, he had a 2.65 ERA, 0.941 WHIP, and an 8.5 K/9. Pitching out of the bullpen should also permit Lugo to ramp his fastball up to 95 MPH and throw his curveball, which has the best spin rate in the majors, making him an even more dominant pitcher.

RHP Zack Wheeler – Like Lugo, Wheeler may get an opportunity to pitch in the rotation, but early indications are he will start the year in the bullpen. Wheeler’s fastball-slider combination should play well out of the bullpen, and it should lead to him recording a high number of strikeouts. Conversely, he may have a high amount of walks as well. Unfortunately, Wheeler may not be able to sustain the same workload of a relief pitcher as the Mets will likely want to ease him back after Wheeler missed two years due to Tommy John surgery.

RHP Paul Sewald – With a high 80s to low 90s fastball with a slider in the low 90s with a low 80s slider, Sewald doesn’t have the dominating stuff you would typically look for in a major league reliever. However, despite having “lesser” stuff, Sewald has succeeded at every level of the minor leagues including his being an effective closer for the 51s last year. Despite pitching in an extreme hitter’s league, Sewald had 10 saves with a 1.85 ERA, 0.945 WHIP, and an 11.8 K/9 in the second half of the season.

RHP Erik Goeddel – If Goeddel can return to his 2014 – 2015 form, the Mets have a reliever they can rely upon. During that time, he was on the New York – Las Vegas shuttle making 41 major league appearances. Over that stretch, he had a 2.48 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, and a 9.0 K/9. For many, it was believed Goeddel did it with smoke and mirrors, an impression that was given credence with his 4.54 ERA and 1.318 WHIP in 2016. With Goeddel able to strike out 9.1 batters per nine last year, he has at least shown he can get batters out, and as a result, should get another chance. His success in 2017 is going to depend on his ability to regain some of his fastball velocity or his ability to adapt to pitching without it.

RHP Chase Bradford – Like Sewald, Bradford has fringy stuff with a low 90s fastball and a low to mid 80s slider. However, unlike Sewald, Bradford has struggled in AAA. Over the past three years, Bradford has pitched to a 4.88 ERA, 1.454 WHIP, and a 7.2 K/9. It should be noted many pitchers, like Lugo, struggle in Las Vegas, only to have success in the majors.

RHP Ben Rowen – The submarine style Rowen was brought in on a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. The hope is that Rowen can be a modern version of Chad Bradford in what was an excellent 2006 Mets bullpen. However, given his low 80s fastball, and with both right-handed batters and left-handed batters hitting him hard in his brief 12 major league appearances, this seems more hope than reality.

RHP Rafael Montero – Despite being terrible for the Mets, he somehow remains a part of the Mets organization. As if his presence on the roster wasn’t baffling enough, Sandy Alderson even mentioned him as a possibility for the bullpen. (ESPN). It figures that this year is the year push comes to shove with Montero. Either he is finally going to trust his stuff and throw strikes at the major league level, or the Mets are going to designate him for assignment for someone who can.

RHP Gabriel Ynoa – Ynoa struggled with the Mets last year, but those struggles could have been the result of him being asked to pitch out of the bullpen when he’s never done that before and the team shifting him between the bullpen and rotation late in the year. Fact is Ynoa has real talent. He has a low to mid 90s fastball that he may be able to consistently get in the mid 90s if he was airing it out in the bullpen. His slider is also effective in generating a number of groundballs. With him in the bullpen as opposed to the rotation, he can primarily utilize his two best pitches to get batters out.

LEFT-HANDED RELIEVERS

LHP Josh Smoker – There are three things we learned about Smoker last year: (1) he strikes out a lot of batters; (2) left-handed batters absolutely crush him; and (3) he is not effective for more than one inning. Now, if Smoker is able to work with Dan Warthen to develop a slider to get help him get left-handed batters out, he’s got closer potential. If not, he’s still an effective arm out of the bullpen so long as Terry Collins acknowledges his limitations.

LHP Josh Edgin – Even with his reduced velocity, Edgin still showed the ability to get left-handed batters out. Until such time he re-gains his velocity, if it ever were to happen, he should primarily be used as a LOOGY. Now, with Familia, Reed, and Robles each being extremely effective against left-handed batters, the Mets are not in dire need of a LOOGY. Still, in a division with Freddie Freeman, Daniel Murphy, and Bryce Harper the Mets could benefit from having more than one pitcher who can get left-handed batters out.

LHP Sean Gilmartin – In 2015, Gilmartin was an important part of the Mets bullpen as the team’s long man. That season, he made 50 appearance pitching 57.1 innings going 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA, 1.186 WHIP, and an 8.5 K/9. Surprisingly, Gilmartin had reverse splits allowing a .216 batting average to right-handed batters and a .260 batting average to left-handed batters. Last, year, Gilmartin began the year in Las Vegas as a starting pitcher. Due to some bullpen issues at the major league level, the Mets had him fly on a red eye and pitch on short rest. Eventually, he would suffer a minor shoulder injury, and his promising season would tail off. Ultimately, the Mets will need a long man in 2017, and there is enough evidence here to suggest Gilmartin can competently fill that roll.

LHP David Roseboom – It’s not common for pitchers to go from AA to the Opening Day roster the next year, but Roseboom may just be capable of doing it. While a closer by trade, who is coming off a season with a 1.87 ERA, he is extremely effective against left-handed batters. Last season, he limited left-handed batters to a .141 batting average. Primarily, Roseboom is a sinker/slider pitcher who also has a change that allows him to remain effective against right-handed batters. While Roseboom primarily sits in the high 80s to the low 90s, he remains effective because he is able to effectively locate his pitches, and he induces a high rate of ground balls.

LHP P.J. Conlon – As touched on above, considering Conlon for the Opening Day roster was a surprise given he has not pitched in AA, he consistently throws in the mid to high 80s, and he was used as a starter last season. Another reason this was a surprise is the Conlon is better against right-handed batters than left-handed batters. The main reason for that is while Conlon is a four pitch pitcher, his out pitch is his change-up. Like with most left-handed pitchers, Conlon’s change-up is more effective against right-handed batters than left. Overall, it is highly unlikely he will make the Opening Day roster, but he should still benefit from the opportunity to further develop his slider.

PREDICTION

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Wheeler seems assured of being in the Opening Day bullpen with Familia, Reed, and Robles. Considering the Mets probably want to add another left-handed pitcher in the bullpen, and the fact that he is out of options, Edgin seems to be the next best guess as to a pitcher who will make the r0ster. Based upon their performance in the bullpen last year, it is likely the next two spots go to Lugo and Smoker. Right there, the Mets have a seven man bullpen with an interesting array of arms that can both register strike outs and induce ground balls to try to get a double play to get out of the inning.

If there is an injury, suspension, or someone proves to be ineffective, the Mets have interesting options behind this group in Rowen, Sewald, and Roseboom. There is also Gilmartin and Ynoa who can provide either a spot start or be able to serve in the bullpen if needed.

Ultimately, while you would feel much better with the Mets having at least one more veteran arm in the bullpen like a Jerry Blevins or a Fernando Salas, there is at least enough quality arms in the Mets system that can conceivably build a good bullpen.

 

Jeremy Hefer and the Highs And Lows of Baseball

At the same time, baseball can be beautiful, and it can be a cruel sport with absolutely no forgiveness whatsoever.  When you are discussing pitchers, the highs can reach into the heavens and the lows seem to abut the depths of hell.  Perhaps no one knows this better than Jeremy Hefner.

For those unaware, the former Mets pitcher announced his retirement from baseball.

In his announcement on Facebook, Hefner said he was retiring because he needs yet another surgery.  This surgery would be to repair a partially torn rotator cuff in his pitching shoulder.  Hefner tried rest twice, but it didn’t work.  If he is going to continue his career as a baseball player, he will need to have another surgery.

And with Hefner, we learned that surgery isn’t routine.  Back in 2013, when seemingly everyone was pushing Matt Harvey to just accept his fate and get Tommy John surgery, Hefner had already decided to have his surgery.  He was actually ahead of Harvey in the rehabilitation process.  While Harvey was chomping at the bit to try to pitch for the Mets at the end of the 2014 season, it was Hefner who would actually get that chance.

Catastrophe struck.  Whatever the cause, whatever the reason, Hefner suffered a stress fracture and a second tear of his UCL, which required a second Tommy John surgery.  In baseball today, Tommy John isn’t seen as major reconstructive surgery.  Rather, the surgery itself and the rehab required to pitch again is seen as routine.  Hefner proved it was anything but.

With Hefner needing a second surgery, the Mets needed to move on.  In some sense it was strange seeing the Mets move on from Hefner because he was a player they had coveted.  Hefner was twice drafted by the team, but he never signed with them.  After he was waived by the Pirates and the Padres in 2011, the Mets picked him up, and they put him on the path to the majors.  When Hefner suffered his first UCL, the Mets believed it was worth the $500,000 to keep him around for a season of rehab.  But with the second surgery, he was gone.

During this time frame, it was hard to remember all of the high points in Hefner’s career.  In fact, Hefner was actually the answer to a trivia question as he had done something in baseball that no one had ever done before.

On April 23, 2012, Hefner made his debut as a reliever in the first game of a doubleheader between the Mets and the Giants.  When Hefner entered the game, he was the first ever 26th man on the roster to play in a major league game.  In essence, Hefner became the 21st Century version of Ron Blomberg

The first ever batter Hefner faced was Buster Posey, a player who is one of the best baseball players in the game today.  Hefner got Posey to ground-out to shortstop.  It was all part of an impressive three scoreless inning relief appearance.  Due to the quirks of the 26th Man Rule, Hefner would go back to AAA after the game.  It would not be the last the Mets heard from him.

On May 19th, Hefner once again had to enter a game to bail out Miguel Batista.  During this five inning relief appearance, Hefner would record his first ever strike out by getting Edwin Encarnacion swinging.  On May 24th, Hefner would make his first ever start against the San Diego Padres.  Then, on May 29th, Hefner would pitch six strong innings against the reigning NL East Champion Philadelphia Phillies to record his first ever major league win.  However, that May 29th game would be remembered for more than just his first win:

During that entire 2012 season, Hefner showed the Mets enough for them to make him a part of their future.  In fact, Hefner would be part of the Opening Day rotation.  Hefner proved he belonged.  In a stretch from April 25th to July 12th, he had made 15 starts going 4-4 with a 2.78 ERA and a 1.053 WHIP.  He had a 7:2 strikeout to walk ratio.  He was averaging over six innings per start.  Especially in a time where Jacob deGrom had yet to establish himself, Noah Syndergaard was in A ball, Steven Matz was dealing with his own Tommy John issues, and Bartolo Colon was an Oakland Athletic, Hefner was showing the Mets he could be a part of this Mets pitching staff over the long haul.

Hefner showed everyone he was a major league pitcher.

While these highs were great, there is one thing that stands out to me about Hefner – his perseverance.  After facing the daunting task of having had two Tommy John surgeries, not having thrown a pitch in a major league game in over two years, and with his being released by the Mets, he didn’t give up.  He would pitch, and pitch well, in Winter Ball at the end of 2015.  He showed enough for the St. Louis Cardinals to sign him to a minor league contract.

While he pitched well through April, the injuries, new and old, began to catch up with him.  He would struggle, be released, and now, he finds himself as a retired baseball player.  Hopefully, Hefner finds himself a retired baseball player who is proud of all that he accomplished in his career.

Hefner not only got the chance to pitch in the major leagues.  It’s all the more impressive when you consider about 30% of fifth rounders even play in the major leagues.  Hefner was part of an Opening Day rotation for a franchise known for its pitching.  Hefner has not only collected a win, but he also has a home run to his credit.  In fact, Hefner did something in the major leagues no one had ever done before.

Overall, Hefner had an all too brief career, but it was a career of consequence.  It was a career with highlights.  It was a career, he should feel pride in having.

Put Gary Cohen In the Mets Hall of Fame

During this offseason, the Mets were put in a somewhat peculiar position.  Longtime Mets announcer and play-by-play man, Gary Cohen, was a finalist for the Ford C. Frick Award.  This would have meant that Cohen would have found himself enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame before he was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.

Now, it should be noted the Ford C. Frick Award is not technically being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  As the Baseball Hall of Fame  notes, “The Ford C. Frick Award is presented annually during Hall of Fame Weekend. Each award recipient (not to be confused with an inductee) is presented with a calligraphy of the award and is recognized in the “Scribes & Mikemen” exhibit in the Library of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.”  With that caveat, for many receiving the award is commensurate with an announcer being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

While Cohen ultimately did not received the award, you know it is only a matter of time before he receives it.  As any Mets fan that listened to him on the radio from 1989 – 2005, or on SNY from 2006 until the present, Cohen is the best in the business.  For those unaware, he is a compilation of some of his best calls in a number of the best moments in Mets history:

The Todd Pratt Home Run:

I particularly like this one due to the comparison to Chris Berman

The Robin Ventura Grand Slam Single:

The Endy Chavez Catch:

The Mike Piazza home-run capping off the 10 run inning against the Braves:

The Johan Santana n0-hitter:

The Wilmer Flores walk-off home-run:

And while, it was not the greatest moment in Mets history, his call on the Bartolo Colon home run is as good a call as you are going to hear anywhere:

There are several calls that you can choose from him because Cohen is just that good a broadcaster.  It’s a testament to him that he made the transition from being quite possibly the best play-by-play announcer in all of baseball to being great as a television announcer on SNY.  They are different mediums, and he seemingly made the seamless switch to describing each and every part of the action to sitting back and let the moment speak for itself.  He has also given room for both Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez to shine in their roles as color commentators.

Whether, it is his screaming “IT’S OUTTA HERE!” or “THE BALLGAME IS OVER!” Cohen has a way of not only capturing the emotion of the big moment, he also has a way of making them seem bigger.  With that said, there is another big moment in Mets history he should not be there to call.  That would be the day he is inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.

New Year’s Resolutions

We are headed for another season of Mets baseball where we hope that once again these Mets can make it all the way back to the World Series.  Since 2015, we have seen a definite pattern emerge with the Mets, and I think as Mets fans, we should all try better this year to not react, some would say overreact, when one of the following things we know will happen, happens:

  • The Mets are not going to sign another big name free agent this offseason.  It’s not going to happen, and it just may happen that Jose Bautista winds up in the division and on a fairly discounted deal;
  • Jerry Blevins will sign an extremely reasonable two year deal . . . with another team;
  • Instead of fortifying the bench, the Mets are going to go with this year’s version of Eric Campbell -> Ty Kelly;
  • Terry Collins is going to use and abuse Addison Reed to the point where his arm may actually fall off.  This will go double if Jeurys Familia gets suspended;
  • Hansel Robles is going to go through a stretch in one week where he pitches five innings, 1/3 of an inning, two innings, and three innings, and everyone is going to wonder why his production has fallen off;
  • The infield of Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, David Wright, and Asdrubal Cabrera will be ridden hard despite their injury histories and capable backups like Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes on the bench;
  • Just pick a random player on the roster – he’s going to be on the DL for over two months with a back injury;
  • There will be a game with Reyes in center and Juan Lagares in right;
  • Travis d’Arnaud is going to get injured, and Kevin Plawecki is not going to be able to replace his bat in the lineup;
  • Matt Harvey will complain about the six man rotation that will be implemented at some point during the season;
  • Robert Gsellman will make an appearance throwing well over 100 pitches in five innings or less;
  • Rene Rivera will hit under the Mendoza Line;
  • T.J. Rivera will be raking in AAA and not get called up despite the Mets needing some offense;
  • Michael Conforto will not face one left-handed pitcher all season;
  • Yoenis Cespedes will not dive for a ball, run out a pop up, or run hard to first on a dropped strike three;
  • Curtis Granderson will have a better OBP than Reyes, but Collins will continue to lead off Reyes and his sub .330 OBP;
  • Collins will not know if Brandon Nimmo is faster than Flores and it will cost them a game;
  • No matter where he winds up this offseason, and no matter how poor his year is going, Chase Utley will hit two home runs in a game he faces the Mets;
  • Sandy Alderson will mortgage a part of the Mets future because he didn’t make a move in the offseason that he should have made;
  • Paul Sewald will pitch well in AAA, but the Mets won’t call him up because they would rather rip Sean Gilmartin or Gabriel Ynoa from the Vegas rotation to make a relief appearance on 2-3 days of rest;
  • Both Josh Smoker and Robles will be fully warmed up, and Collins will go to Smoker to pitch to the lefty;
  • For reasons the Mets themselves can’t quite explain, Rafael Montero will spend the full season on the 40 man roster;
  • d’Arnaud will come off the disabled list, play well for a stretch, and the Mets will lose him and Steven Matz in the same game;
  • Matz will have appendicitis, but the Mets will talk him out of the surgery because they need him to start against the Reds;
  • Dilson Herrera will tear it up every time he plays the Mets;
  • Wherever he lands, Jay Bruce is going to hit 30 homers and 100 RBI;
  • Collins will show up in the dugout without wearing pants, and the Mets still won’t fire him;
  • Noah Syndergaard will get ejected from a game for throwing inside.  A player who takes a bat to one of the Mets infielders in retaliation won’t;
  • Fans will clamor for Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith to get called up all season long;
  • Seth Lugo will bounce between the bullpen and rotation so much, MLB is actually going to test him to see if his arm is actually made out of rubber;
  • Bartolo Colon will pitch so poorly against the Mets, fans will wonder why they wanted a bum like him back;
  • R.A. Dickey will not only beat the Mets, but he will throw the team into a week  long offensive funk causing some fans to decry the trade;
  • One or more pitchers will get hurt, and fans that even question if the Warthen Slider could be an issue will be mocked mercilessly;
  • Some way some how Jon Niese will pitch for this team;
  • Rather than build Tom Seaver a statue, the Mets will issue #41 to Niese upon his return to the team;
  • Daniel Murphy will have another terrific year for the Nationals, and some Mets fans will still defend the decision to let him go;
  • Ricky Knapp will make a solid spot start for the Mets causing fans to think he is the second coming;
  • Mets will trade a good prospect for Kelly Johnson; and
  • Despite all of this the Mets will make it to the postseason

Honestly, I give it until April 9th when Collins declares the last game in a three game set against the Marlins is a must-win game.

2016 Mets Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot (Bartolo Colon)

And never brought to mind (Antonio Bastardo)

Should auld acquaintance be forgot (Jon Niese)

And days of auld lang syne.  (Wild Card Game)

And there’s a hand (Matt Harvey), my trust friend (Curtis Granderson)

And gie’s a hand to thine (Steven Matz)

We’ll take a cup of kindness yet (Wilpons)

For auld lang syne (1986 Mets)