Carlos Beltran

Historically Zobrist Goes Elsewhere

This isn’t a criticism of Sandy Alderson and his staff. This isn’t an issue of this front office being stingy or refusing to go the extra mile to get the player. It’s just that historically the Mets typically do not outbid teams when it comes to the big free agent. 

That’s not to say the Mets don’t sign free agents. Obviously, they do. They’ve also overspent and spent big money on some free agents. It’s just that they don’t typically win bidding wars. They especially don’t do so when a big market team is also bidding on the same player. My personal feelings aside, I just don’t see how the Mets outbid everyone for Ben Zobrist. Here are the instances where the Wilpon led Mets outbid everyone for a high priced player:

Jason Bay

In 2009, the Mets signed Jason Bay. In some ways it could be interpreted as the Mets won a bidding war and in others it could be seen as the Red Sox moved on to other players
Fact is the Red Sox essentially had a four year $60 million contract offer, which may or may not have been pulled due to medical concerns. You can never fully trust Boston’s statements when a player leaves. The fact is the Mets had to offer $6 million extra to bring Bay to New York. The fact also remains the Mets went after Bay instead of going after the much better and much more expensive Matt Holliday

This isn’t about how Bay fared with the Mets as no one could have reasonable predicted what happened next. This is about the Mets outbidding the Red Sox for a player only after deciding to not even get involved in the bidding for the more expensive, better player. 

Carlos Beltran

The Carlos Beltran story is an interesting one. Like Bay, it was also a move made under the Omar Minaya regime. 

What’s most interesting about this was the Yankees never got involved in the bidding despite Beltran all but begging them to offer him a contract. Furthermore, the Astros had a limited window to negotiate with Beltran. Under the old free agency rules, the Astros only had until January 7th to re-sign him. If they didn’t, they were barred from re-signing him until May 1st. 

The Mets went above and beyond then in Minaya’s first year as GM. The Mets signed Beltran to a then whopping seven year $119 million contract. It was a real power move that the Mets haven’t typically been the Mets strength. There was one other move in 2005 that was uncharacteristic. 

Pedro Martinez

Like Bay, the Mets were able to outbid the Red Sox for Pedro Martinez because the Red Sox drew a line in the sand in a player they knew/suspected had questionable medicals. Unlike Bay, the Mets clearly outbid the Red Sox. 

The Red Sox thought they had Pedro re-signed giving him the extra year he wanted. The Mets just gave that extra year and money no one thought Pedro could/should get. Like Beltran, this was part of Minaya’s reshaping of the Mets. It’s truly interesting the major deals happened in 2005 when Minaya took over the team. In some ways, it makes you question how much the Madoff Ponzi fallout affected the Mets. 

Yes, it clearly limited payroll. However, after 2005, the Mets never truly went the extra mile in seeking to acquire the top free agent on the market. They were initially rebuffed by Carlos Delgado (until he was later obtained via trade). They did give a huge contract to Johan Santana in the wake of the 2007 collapse. However, that was part of a trade and not part of a free agent bidding process. 

So while the Mets have at times spent money pre-Madoff, it appears the team does not usually win these free agent bidding contests. Additionally, after 2005, the team has typicall backed off the top free agent on the market that would/could fulfill a need like Jason Heyward

In any event, it appears if history repeats itself here, the Mets will not get Zobrist. This may or may not be due to the budget. It may due more to an organizational philosophy that was in place before Sandy Alderson ever became the GM. 

Cuddyer Will Be an Important Player in 2016

Last year, Michael Cuddyer was signed by the Mets to be that missing offensive piece. The Mets were so confident he would help them they were willing to forfeit their first round pick. It turns out they were wrong. 

Cuddyer had the worst year of his career. He’s a career .277/.344/.461 hitter mostly playing in hitter’s parks like the Metrodome and Coors Field. Last year, he only hit .259/.309/.391. What was the reason for the decline?  It could’ve  been the switch to Citi Field. It could’ve been free agents the Mets sign always have a poor first year (see Beltran, Carlos and Granderson, Curtis). It could’ve been his turning 36. It could’ve been the injuries. 

Cuddyer had a knee injury that compromised him for much of the year. He required surgery on his core. Either one of these injuries could reasonably explain the down year. At the very least, we can expect a healthier Cuddyer in 2016. With him being a bench player now, we can also expect a fresher Cuddyer too. 

Mostly, you can expect Cuddyer to take some at bats against tough lefties with Granderson, Lucas Duda, and Michael Conforto. For his career, Cuddyer has hit .290/.377/.494. Even in a down year last year, he hit .273/.357/.343. These are good numbers against lefties. He’s important because the Mets best hitters are all lefties. This will help curb the effects of the Mets facing a tough lefty during the regular season. 

Cuddyer’s other duties will include pinch hitting. For his career, Cuddyer has hit .355/.431/.548 in 72 pinch hitting attempts. Considering Cuddyer will be the team’s presumed top pinch hitter, these numbers are encouraging. Even more encouraging was his numbers as a pinch hitter last year. In 22 plate appearances, Cuddyer hit .316/.364/.316. Even in a down year, Cuddyer had good at bats as a pinch hitter. 

Lastly, the Mets have a David Wright problem. Wright showed last year, he can still be an effective player. However, he can still only play only four days in a row. With Daniel MurphyJuan Uribe, and Kelly Johnson being free agents, the Mets don’t have a definitive answer for Wright’s days off. Cuddyer has played some third in his career, but not with any regularity since 2005. 

However, Cuddyer is now a bench player. He has to be ready to pinch hit and play multiple positions. If Cuddyer is even a hint of the player he once was, the Mets will have a strong bench in 2016. They will have an insurance policy for first, third, left, and right. Signing Cuddyer may have been a mistake, but it doesn’t mean he won’t be a useful player. 

He’s going to have to play a big role in 2016, even if it’s a role neither he nor the Mets thought he would play. 

It Was Worth the Wait

My favorite Mets team was the 1999 team. I loved everything about that team from Bobby V to Mike Piazza to Edgardo Alfonzo to Robin Ventura to John Olerud. It was my first real taste of a pennant race and the playoffs. I was lucky to be there for Pratt’s All Folks and the Grand Slam Single. I look back on the year with melancoly because of this:

In 2000, the Mets got Mike Hampton. The season became World Series or bust. A strange feeling for a Mets fan. Hampton would deliver. He was the NLCS MVP. The Mets then had to face the Yankees in the World Series. It was a cruel series with Todd Zeile‘s ball landing on the wall and falling back into play.  Timo Perez didn’t run and didn’t score. Roger Clemens threw a bat at Piazza and wasn’t ejected. The series then ended in the most heartbreaking way possible:

The Mets would be terrible for the next few years, but everything came together in 2006. Our homegrown stars, Jose Reyes and David Wright, we’re becoming superstars. They were joined by the two Carloses: Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado. It was a team that ran roughshod over the National League. Beltran was the best baseball player on the planet that year (who somehow didn’t win the MVP). The Mets had momentum in Game Seven with Endy Chavez’s catch. Here’s how that season ended:

In 2007, the Mets reloaded and were primed to go back to the World Series. They were up 7 with 17 to play. On the final game of the season, they sent future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine to the mound with his 300 wins. He wouldn’t be devastated when he got out of the first, but we would:

In 2008, the Mets diagnosed their problem, and much like 2000, they went out to get it. The Mets brought in Johan Santana, and he delivered. they needed him in a strange year that saw Wille Randolph fired after a win on the first game of a west coast trip. The interim manager threatened to cut Reyes if he didn’t come off the field after pulling up lame, and people acted like it was a good thing. Through all of that, the Mets were collapsing again, and yet an injured Santana took the ball on three days rest. He saved the season, but only for a day: 

The last three were the most difficult for me because I was there. It got more difficult because Citi Field was initially a disappointment. It got worse because the product on the field was bad. 

Then Matt Harvey came up and was an All Star. Jacob deGrom came from seemingly nowhere to become a Rookie of the Year and an All Star. They were joined by Noah Syndergaard. The Mets made a flurry of trades including one for Yoenis CespedesDaniel Murphy had an out of body experience. Then this happened:

All that pain. All that suffering. We know what it’s like to be Mets fans. There’s pain and suffering. However, there are moments of pure joy. It’s all the losing that makes nights like last night all the more special. 

We’re Mets fans. We were there for all of this. There are older fans who experienced more pain, but also more joy. There are younger fans who only know losing. Now, we’re all Pennant Winners. It’s like the 80’s again when the Mets are the best team of baseball. We’re “Back in the New York groove!”

Fan RitualsĀ 

Last Friday, I dressed my son in a Mets shirt as part of #MetsFriday. I wore my Gary Carter t-shirt under my work shirt. For lunch, I had a sesame chicken lunch combination plate. The Mets won

I didn’t do any of that on Saturday. Mets lost. On Monday, I wore the Carter shirt under my work shirt. I put my son in his Mets shirt. Without thinking about it, I again ordered sesame chicken for lunch. The Mets won again. On Tuesday, my son didn’t wear his Mets shirt, and I didn’t have sesame chicken. The Mets lost again. 

It’s funny. I should know that what I wear and what my son wears has no impact on the game. I should know my lunch choices have no impact on the game. And yet, I do it anyway. I remember in 2006, I brought a chicken salad sandwich with me every game I attended. A co-worker surprisingly had an extra ticket to Game 7. I didn’t have a chance to go home and make my chicken salad sandwich. 

When Carlos Beltran struck out, it was in the back of my mind that I didn’t have my chicken salad sandwich. It was a mistake I didn’t make on the final game of the 2007 season. I enjoyed my chicken salad sandwich. However, the Mets lost anyway. I’m nine years older now. I can see that’s there is proof my dietary choices have no impact on a game. I didn’t want Chinese food for lunch. I wasn’t that hungry. 

Naturally, I had sesame chicken for lunch while wearing my Carter t-shirt under my work shirt. My son is wearing his Mets shirt today. You’re all welcome. Now . . . 


Twenty, Twenty-four Hours to Go

The moment we’ve all been waiting for since the Carlos Beltran strikeout is now 24 hours away. Mets fans have been waiting for nine years. This last day is going to be the hardest part of the wait. 

I’m already pumped up.  I’m going to have a harder than usual time falling asleep tonight. know I’m going to be distracted all day tomorrow. I’m going to be thinking of every mechanization of tomorrow’s game. I’m going to be thinking of my write-ups and how I wish they were better. I’m going to wish I did more. 

I’m going to spend the whole day debating whether or not I should keep my son up to watch. I’m going to be happy I’m married to a smart woman who is going to tell me it’s a bad idea. I’ll know if she read my site today when I say here and now I’m going to let him watch some of it. 

I’m going to spend the next 24 hours all pumped up, and then once Clayton Kershaw throws the first pitch to Curtis Granderson, I’m going to be on edge for two to four hours. With my son asleep, I’m going to have be screaming into a pillow lest I wake him up. I will be texting friends an family like crazy. 

I know the time after Game 1 will seem even longer than the past week. The wait between Games 2 and 3 will seem like an eternity. I’m hoping that I’ll have to deal with the wait between the NLDS and the NLCS. 

I’ll deal with whatever wait I need to deal with this year, so long as I don’t have to wait another nine, or 29, years. 

It’s Unfortunate for Beltran

Im by no means a Yankees fan. However, I am a Carlos Beltran fan. He was a great Met, and he’s one of the best postseason players of all time. 

I’ve rooted for him even as he’s played for the enemies in St. Louis and the Bronx. Who knows how many more shots Beltran is going to get to win a World Series. While I don’t want to see the Yankees win another World Series, I would like to see Beltran win just one. I thought I would see it while he roamed CF in Flushing. It never happened. 

It may never happen for him. The Yankees are not trending up right now. Next year, he will be 39 and in the last year of his deal. I hate to think the strike out to Luke Gregerson is how Beltran ends his postseason career. He deserves better. 

Now matter what happens from this point forward, I’ll continue to root for him, even if he wears the enemy’s uniform. 

Save Your Money

This is the sixth time the Mets have made the playoffs in my lifetime. In 1986 and 1988, I was too young to run out and buy playoff gear. In the subsequent years, I was able to purchase playoff gear, and I did. I wasted my money.

I look at my 1999 playoff stuff, and I see Kenny Rogers walking in the series winning run. I look at my 2000 playoff stuff, and I’m reminded of the Mets losing the Subway Series. I loved my three quarter sleeve 2006 NL East Champion t-shirt up until the Carlos Beltran strikeout. 

I don’t wear the stuff anymore. It’s just reminders of painful losses. Also, I’ve realized it’s not the gear I want. I want the World Series gear. 

Being a Giants fan, I only got the Super Bowl Champion gear. Some people got me the NFC Champions and the NFC East Champions. I never wear them. If I’m wearing something, I’m wearing the Super Bowl Champion gear. 

So take my advice. Don’t rush out and buy the NL East Champions gear. I understand your excitement, but you’ll wear it for a month at most. Save your money for the World Series. You can use the extra money to get extra stuff. Trust me. You’ll thank me later. 

Matz Takes the First Game of the Subway Series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They’re getting ready for the playoffs. 

Don’t Boo Carlos Beltran

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

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

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

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

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

Oliver Perez Might’ve Been a Beloved Met

After Duaner Sanchez‘s infamous cabride, Omar Minaya made a trade to acquire Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez. While the thought process might have been to get another reliever, it was Perez who was pressed into action. 

At first, Perez seemed like an asset for the future. More likely, he was a throw-in. However, Pedro Martinez‘s season ended in September because he needed rotator cuff surgeryEl Duque was injured right before Game One of the NLDS. Steve Trachsel was horrid in the NLDS and the NLCS. The Mets had no option but to press Oliver Perez into action. 

With the Mets down 2-1 in the NLCS, Perez pitched reasonably well. Through five innings he only let up three runs. He started to lose it in the sixth, but that was only after the Mets expanded their lead to 11-3. Then came that epic and tragic Game Seven. Perez was pressed into action again. This time it was on three days rest. 

In Game Seven, he allowed one run over six innings. He was terrific that night, but he was mostly aided by Endy Chavez:

By the way, I was there. I’ve never see Shea like that. For all the good Citi Field has to offer, it will never be like it was at Shea after that catch. I don’t need to continue as to what happened next. 

In 2007, Perez went 15-10 with a 3.56 ERA. In 2008, he wasn’t as good, but he was effective going 10-7 with a 4.22 ERA. He started the last game at Shea with another collapse on hand. He gave the Mets 5.1 innings with two earned allowed. He kept the Mets in the game allowing Carlos Beltran to tie the score in the sixth on a two run homerun. The season effectively ended when Jerry Manuel brought in Scott Schoeneweis

Imagine if that was the end of Oliver Perez. He would’ve been remembered as a gamer. He would’ve been remembered for two decent seasons. Unfortunately, he signed that contact, and he was terrible. That was the lasting memory; not his clutch performances. 

It’s a shame. He could’ve been beloved by Mets fans forever instead of the villain he is. While good-byes are hard, sometimes it’s harder when the player stats too long.