Darryl Strawberry

2016 Shouldn’t Be a Disappointing Season

Between 1984 – 1990, the Mets finished in second place or better.  Over the course of these seven seasons, the Mets averaged 95 wins.  Without question, this was the best stretch in Mets history.  It’s strange to think that any point in time your team averages 95 wins over the course of five seasons, you are disappointed.  However, as Ron Darling expained to Mike Francesa, he feels “very disappointed” that the Mets didn’t accomplish more.

While Dariling’s feelings are understandable, and many Mets fans would agree with him, there are a number of reasons that we can point to as the reason why the Mets didn’t win more.  Rick Sutcliffe went an amazing 16-1 after the Cubs acquired him helping them win the division in 1984.  The Mets had to contend with a really good Cardinals team year in and year out.  The Mets were snakebit with injuries during the 1987 season.  The Mets ran into Orel Hershiser, who had one of the greatest seasons for a pitcher ever in 1988, in the NLCS.  However, truth be told Davey Johnson managed a horrific series.  In 1989, the team was in transition, and in  1990, the Pittsburgh Pirates were just better and were embarking on their own run.  All of these reasons are valid, but the main reason everyone points to would be the drug problems, namely with Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry.

There’s another reason why those Mets teams only got one shot at a World Series – the postseason format.  Back in that time frame, the only teams that went to the postseason were the division winners.  In today’s game, it would be unheard of a team winning 98 games not only missing the postseason, but also missing the postseason by three games.  If you apply, the current postseason rules and divisional formats to the 1980’s, the Mets would have had won the NL East for all seven of those seasons.  Its possible that instead of talking about the 1986 World Series, we’re talking about the Mets’ dynasty.  It’s possible the Mets would’ve won multiple World Series during that stretch.  It’s also possible that like the Braves in the 90’s, the Mets would only win one World Series, and we would be left questioning what happened.

Whatever may be the case, it’s apparent that those Mets teams did not get as many chances to reach the postseason as this current Mets team will.  Last year, the Mets won the NL East with 90 wins.  From 1984 – 1990, the Mets only won the NL East in the two seasons they won 100 games.

There is no reason for this Mets team to only go to the postseason twice with their current core group of players.  Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard are under team control until 2019.  Young players like Michael Conforto already contributing,  There are big prospects like Dilson Herrera and Amed Rosario who we should see within the next few seasons at Citi Field contributing to what is already a World Series contending team.  Without being too unreasonable, I believe this Mets team is set to contend for a longer period of time than Ron Darling’s Mets’ teams.  To expect that seems unreasonable, but when you consider the young talent already on the team and in the pipeline, it’s certainly possible.

So before the Mets play their home opener today, they’re going to raise 2015 National League Champions flag.  As we saw again that postseason, there is a lot that can happen along the way that can help you advance in each series.  If not for Daniel Murphy having a game for the ages, and the Dodgers being unable to hit deGrom despite him having nothing, the Mets lose in the NLDS.  The Mets are instead raising at 2015 National League East flag.  So no, the 2016 season is not World Series or bust, nor in retrospect is the Mets only winning one World Series from 1984 – 1990 really disappointing.

With that said, I don’t blame Ron Darling for feeling the way he does.  I won’t blame the current Mets players from feeling the same way about 2015.  There is a World Series championship in the Mets clubhouse.  Whether that is in 2016 or later, we do not know yet.  Right now, I will say that as long as this Mets group wins one World Series, I won’t be disappointed because I will have been able to see something that has only happened twice in the Mets 54 year history.  No matter what happens in 2016, it promises to be a special season, and I can’t wait to watch each and every minute of it.

Lets Go Mets.

 

David Wright Should’ve Supported Matt Harvey Today

When you are the Captain of a team, you’re the designated leader of the team. As the leader, you are tasked with leading both in and out of the clubhouse. At least publicly, you need to have your teammates back. 

Looking at his quotes from David Lennon’s Newsday article regarding Matt Harvey‘s media silence, David Wright doesn’t have his teammate’s back with the media:

“Ask Matt,” Wright replied trying to stifle a grin. “If he’s talking to you.”  

We tried again a minute later. This time the question was about Harvey thriving on the controversy, maybe even performing better under these types of circumstances. Wright smiled. 

“I am not Matt Harvey’s mouthpiece,” Wright said. “I imagine playing in the big leagues, getting a chance to pitch on Opening Day, should be motivation enough. So I expect him to go out there and pitch well.”

I’m not suggesting Wright was malicious here. What I am suggesting is it’s a bad moment for him. He’s grinning while talking about Harvey’s media boycott. He’s declaring he’s not Harvey’s mouthpiece. 

You know what we didn’t see here?  Quotes about how his teammate was treated unfairly. Maybe as a leader of the team, Wrighf could’ve not spoken to the media at all. Maybe he could’ve had his teammate’s back after the way the media treated Harvey. Sometimes being a Captain is about biting your tongue. Wright should’ve gone to Keith Hernandez for some advice on how to handle the situation. 

Back in 1989, the beginning of the end of the Mets terrific run, Darryl Strawberry tried to start not one, but two fights with Hernandez at picture day. At the time Strawberry was upset with Hernadez because he did not support Strawberry’s threats to walk out in the team over a contract dispute. Hernandez supported Strawberry’s request for a new contract, but he also advised that it was a mistake for Strawberry to threaten the front office. 

These quotes, the fact that Strawberry was seated next to Hernandez, and probably some of Strawberry’s other demons came to a head. Despite the media being there, Strawberry tried to fight him twice. 

After the altercations, the media finally caught up with Hernandez. What did the twice attacked Keith Hernandez have to say about the incident? He simply stated, “It was unfortunate, but we will be fine.”  Strawberry was unhinged and tried to attack him twice, and Hernadez simply swept it under the rug. 

You couldn’t blame Hernandez if he went off on Strawberry there, but he didn’t. He did what a Captain does. He didn’t make it a bigger deal. At least publicly, he gave no indication of any prior or lingering problems.  He at least tried to make things easier for his teammate. It’s what Wright should have done. 

There was no one forcing Wright to talk to the media. No one was forcing him to say he wasn’t Harvey’s mouthpiece. These were Wright’s choices.  With these choices, he was quoted in an article about how Harvey needs to talk to the media, about how he’s going to make things harder for his teammates. Whether intentional or not, whether or not it was malicious, Wright came off as the good guy, and Harvey came off as small and petty. Wright looked like the good teammate while Harvey looked like the bad teammate. 

A Captain has to know better. Furthermore, Wright has been in New York for 12 years. He has to know better. With his responses, he gave the media yet another story about Harvey. 

Wright has been a terrific Met. He’s been great with the media and fans. He wasn’t a good Captain or teammate yesterday. Hopefully, he will get better because his teammates need a Captain who will stand up to a tough New York media, not feed it with more stories about his teammate. 

Explaining the Chapman Situation to Your Child

Growing up, my favorite player was Darryl Strawberry. My brother’s was Dwight Gooden. Both were addicted to drugs. Both ruined their careers over it. Both forced my father to talk about it with my brother and I as these issues arose. I remembered that yesterday when reading Jared Diamond’s Tweet:

I have to be honest. Thoughts like this can keep me up at times at night. With my son being two, I fortunately will not have to answer questions like this for quite a while. However, there will come a day I will have to answer these questions. 

Where to begin?

Well, first off, I think it’s not just a father-daughter question. I think it’s a father-child question. Additionally, I think it’s an opportunity for a parent. It’s a teachable moment. It’s a time to address not just the acts and ramifications, but also why a player like Aroldis Chapman is still allowed to play baseball. 

In having this discussion, the overriding principle should be honesty. 

I would start with how a man should never ever lay his hand on a woman. A man should never ever physically threaten or denigrate a woman. Those are not the actions of a real man. I never have and never will treat his mother like that. I expect he will never treat a woman that way. 

I would then explain that he was punished for his actions. No, I don’t agree with the suspension. I thought he got off easy. With that said, he was punished for his actions, and it did cost him about $1.7 million. It has also damaged his reputation. Wherever he goes for the rest of his life, he’s going to be associated with these actions. 

As for why he’s still allowed to play?  It’s twofold. First, he served a suspension, and he’s allowed to return. And yes, he should be allowed to return. Chapman deserved his suspension. He served his punishment. Anytime anyone serves their punishment, they have a right to return. They have a right to turn their lives around. Chapman is no different. 

I’d also point out the obvious. Chapman is playing because he can throw 100 MPH. No one would want him if he wasn’t uniquely talented. It’s why he’s getting a second chance. It’s why someone will always be interested in giving him a chance. It will never excuse what he did, but when you are great at something someone will always give you a chance. With that said, in anything you do in life going forward, always be cognizant that one mistake or one action can take everything away no matter how great you are. 

The most difficult question to answer is why would I root for him. You see I don’t root for him. I root for the Mets. I root for the Mets because I always have through thick and thin. I root for the Mets like my Dad does. The Mets are more than just one player. Sure, there will always be a player or two I don’t like. There may be a player that has done something as vile as what Chapman did. No, I don’t like having a player like Chapman on the Mets, but I don’t get a say in who plays for the Mets. 

So yes, it’s alright to root for the Mets. It’s alright to cheer when someone like Chapman helps your team. I just wouldn’t buy his jersey or cheer him when he’s announced.  

At least this is what I hope I will do. 

The Mets 30-30 Drought Will Continue

In 1987, Howard Johnson and Darryl Strawberry became the first Mets to have a 30-30 season. HoJo would do it again in 1989 and 1991. The Mets would not have another 30-30 season for another 16 years when HoJo was the Mets hitting coach. 

In 2007, under HoJo’s tutelage, David Wright joined the 30-30 club. Since that time, the Mets organization once again has had a drought. Over the past nine years, the Mets have not had a 30-30 season. It’s not that surprising. 

What is surprising is that with all the young exciting talent in baseball, the sport is in the middle of a drought of 30-30 players. As Andrew Simons reports on MLB.com, baseball is in the midst of a drought of 30-30 players. Since the aforementioned 1987 season, there was a 30-30 player every year until 2012. Baseball has not seen one since. 

Looking at the Mets roster, Wright is the only player who has had a 30-30 season. Looking over the Mets roster, Wright is the only player that has had a 30+ homerun season and a 30+ stolen base season. He hasn’t had a 30 homerun season since 2008. He hasn’t had a 30 stolen base season since 2007. With his back, no one should anticipate Wright accomplishing either of those tasks let alone both in one season. Overall, if baseball is going to have a 30-30 player this year, it’s not going to come from the Mets. 

That’s fine. It’s a statistical anomaly that has little correlation to successful teams. As we see with 1987, 1989, 1991, and 2007, those 30-30 seasons did not lead to playoff berths.  Seeing a player accomplish a 30-30 season is fun, but it’s not as fun as a playoff berth. 

Return of the Racing Stripe Jerseys

Yesterday, the Mets announced that the Mets will wear the iconic 1986 racing stripe jerseys every Sunday home game this season. I love these jerseys, but it does seem odd that the team is wearing these jerseys each and every Sunday. 

The Mets everyday left fielder, Michael Conforto, was born on March 1, 1993. At that time, the only members of the 86 Mets still around were Dwight Gooden and Howard Johnson. Gooden’s Mets career was effectively over at that point. He was a shell of his former self due to drug abuse and injuries. HoJo was only a utility player on the 86 team. The main contribution he made that year was being the on deck batter when Ray Knight scored off of Mookie Wilson‘s little dribbled up the first base line. 

It seems odd to me to see Conforto wearing a 25th anniversary patch that was created for a team seven years before he was born. 

Again, if the Mets want to do this, they should do it right. Update the patch to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1986 World Series championship. This way it truly becomes an homage to the 1986 team that it was intended to be. Furthermore, the jerseys will look more appropriate when you purchase them.  

Speaking of purchasing one, which I intend to do, there are two problems with the jerseys. The first is the diaper effect of the jerseys:

  

The next is if you don’t want the diaper, you don’t get the patch, nor do you get the option to personalize it:

  
One last note, am I the only one that thinks it’s going to look absurd to see Tim Teufel effectively wearing Darryl Strawberry‘s jersey?  

Overall, I love that these jerseys are back. I think the Mets were smart making them the Sunday jerseys. I hope they return in 2017. I just wish they were updated to be the tribute the Mets wanted them to be. 

Wright’s Most Important Season

When David Wright came up in 2004, we thought every year was going to be like last year. Much like this year, we anticipated that each and every year Wright manned third base, the Mets would contend for a World Series. 

As we know, it didn’t happen that way. A lot went wrong. The Mets came ever so close in 2006. They collapsed in 2007 and 2008. A poorly designed outfield, poor personnel decisions, and financial crisis ensued. Then, as things began to turn around, Wright injured his hamstring. Then he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis. Last year was his first trip to the World Series. This year may be his last year as a key contributor on a World Series team. 

It could also be Wright’s last year to build his Hall of Fame credentials. 

Third base is the least represented position in the Hall of Fame. Accordingly, standards are high to enter the Hall of Fame as a third baseman.  The average of 13 Hall of Famers at the position had a career WAR of 67.5, a WAR7 (best seven years combined) of 42.7, and a JAWS of 55.1. Looking at the stats, Wright falls short. His career WAR is 50.1. His WAR7 is 40.0. His JAWS is 45.1. For a player that Mets fans believed would be a Hall of Famer, he now has an uphill climb. 

WAR7

Looking at theses factors, it’s presumably easiest for Wright to increase his WAR7. To do so, he would need to have one year where he accumulates 2.7 more WAR that his seventh best season. Here are his seven best WAR seasons:

  1. 2007 – 8.3
  2. 2012 – 7.0
  3. 2008 – 6.8
  4. 2013 – 5.9
  5. 2005 – 4.8
  6. 2006 – 4.1
  7. 2009 – 3.2

For Wright to put his WAR7 within range, he would need to have one more season that is 5.9 or better. Wright last did that in 2013. That year Wright only played on 112 games. He hit .307/.390/.514 with 18 homers and 58 RBI. His 156 OPS+ was the best of his career. In that season, Wright missed a significant amount of time with a strained hamstring. Sounds just like his April 2015 hamstring injury that wouldn’t heal. 

The Mets are hopeful that Wright can play 130 games in 2016. Judging from Wright’s 2013 season, it is certainly possible that Wright can have a 5.9 season again. A better and much stronger Mets lineup will assist him in that task. 

Cumulative WAR

Going into the 2016 season, Wright has a career WAR of 55.1, which is presumably 12.4 behind the 67.5 career WAR he would need to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. 

This is where things may get a little tricky for Wright’s chances. Don Mattingly had back problems, and his once promising Hall of Fame career was over at 34. Lenny Dykstra had spinal stenosis, and his career was over at 33. David Wright is entering his age 33 season. Based on other player’s careers, he’s near the end of his career. If Wright plays past his age 34 season, he will be in uncharted territory. 

Naturally, it is safe to assume Wright will not have a 12.4 WAR season thereby cementing his Hall of Fame case. To do that, Wright would have to match Babe Ruth‘s 1927 season when he hit 60 homeruns. No, if Wright is going to accumulate the needed 12.4 WAR, he’s going to have to remain healthy and effective. He’s going to have to manage his spinal stenosis. 

Wright is currently signed until 2020. There are $90 million reasons why Wright will do all he can to finish that contract. 

Presuming Wright does do that, he has five more years left in his career. In order to attain the necessary 12.4 additional WAR, Wright will have to average a 2.5 WAR a year for those five seasons. 

In 2014, Wright played 134 games, and he was a 2.7 WAR player. In that season, he hit .269/.324/.374 with eight homers and 63 RBI. If Wright manages his back, and his treatments are effective, seasons like this over the next five years are certainly attainable. 

Other Criteria

As Wright’s peak is over, there really isn’t anything he can do to improve his JAWS. With that in mind, we need to look at other areas that would improve Wright’s Hall of Fame case. 

Unfortunately, he will be unable to surpass Mike Schmidt‘s 548 homeruns or even reach the once magic number 500 homeruns. He won’t catch Chipper Jones‘ 1,623 RBI. He won’t catch Brooks Robinson‘s 16 Gold Gloves at third base. It does not appear Wright will reach 3,000 hits as he would need to average 250 hits over the next five years to reach that number. No, it seems like the only thing that will help Wright is the narrative. 

The best thing going for Wright is the fact that he will most likely play his entire career as a Met. Aside from Tom Seaver, Wright is making a case as the best player to ever play for the Mets. Here are his Mets rankings:

  • Games Played – Second (307 behind Ed Kranepool)
  • Runs – First
  • Hits – First 
  • Doubles – First
  • Homeruns – Second (17 behind Darryl Strawberry)
  • RBI – First

In addition, Wright’s 50.1 WAR with the Mets is the second most any player has accumulated with the Mets; the most accumulated by any Mets position player. Even with Mike Piazza‘s recent election to the Hall of Fame, it appears that Wright is the team’s best position player. 

So overall, Wright still has a legitimate shot at the Hall of Fame. His name will be atop all the major offensive catergories. His WAR and other catergories will put him on the cusp of election. A strong 2016 will get him a lot closer to those goals. 

Winning a World Series in 2016 can’t hurt either. 

Editor’s Note: this article also appeared on metsmerizedonline.com

Add Darling to the Mix

With the Mets announcing they are finally retiring Mike Piazza’s number, there have been renewed discussions regarding if there should be any other Mets who should have their number retired.  You know the names: Gary CarterDwight GoodenDarryl Strawberry, and, of course, Keith Hermandez

Instead of arguing the merits of each of these players, I thought I would offer up a new name. Ron Darling

Looking over Darling’s resume, he was a good, but not a great Met. He was 99-70 with a 3.50 ERA in nine years with the Mets. He won a Gold Glove, and he went to an All Star Game. He had a nice career, and he certainly justified the Mets trading away fan favorite Lee Mazzilli for him. Justifying a trade and having your number retired are two separate distinctions. Admittedly, Darling’s career falls well short of justifying his number retired. 

The argument for his number being retired emirates from his current role with the Mets. He’s part of the already iconic Gary, Keith, and Ron. He calls Mets games from the Ralph Kiner TV Booth. That honor was bestowed upon Kiner, an original Met, and Mets broadcasting legend. Kiner was part of the original amazing Mets trio of Kiner, Lindsay Nelson, and Bob Murphy. The radio booth was named after the Hall of Famer Bob Murphy. 

Darling is a terrific broadcaster in his own right. He’s so great he was picked up by TBS to do color commentary. As a member of the 1986 Mets and as a broadcaster, Darling has been an important part of Mets history. Since the TV booth already carries the name of Ralph Kiner, and deservedly so, we need to find another way to honor Ron Darling’s rich Mets career.  The Mets should retire his number 12. 

However, they shouldn’t do it before retiring Keith’s number 17. 

Reyes Might Be a Lowlife Woman Beater

I remember the Francisco Rodriguez assault of a family member in 2010. The reports were Jose Reyes was deeply troubled by it, especially because his wife and kids saw it. Now I saw this:

Apparently, Reyes assaulted his wife in a hotel room in Wailea. My first reaction really was, no, it couldn’t be him. Not Reyes. Then I went to his Twitter page:

Yup, he’s vacationing in Hawaii. It at least adds credibility to a story I find incredulous. Frankly, I’m stunned, and this is coming from a guy who grew up rooting for Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. If it’s true, Reyes will be the first player suspended under Major League Baseball’s new Domestic Violence Policy. It’s a test for Rob Manfred as Major League Baseball is dealing with this seemingly for the first time. 

If it’s true, I’ll immediately purge every Reyes thing I’ve ever owned. I’ll make sure to go to Mets-Rockies games and boo him mercilessly. Mostly, I’ll be sad and disappointed. Not just for losing a favorite player, but also because another man abused another woman. It’s got to stop. 

Hopefully, everything about the report is false. If it is, I’ll immediately take this post down. I really hope I have to take this post down. 

I Hate the Dodgers

I was lucky. When I first became interested in baseball the Mets were really good. They finished second or higher in the NL East from 1984 – 1990. 

During that time span, I was only concerned about the Mets. Hating the Yankees didn’t even make sense yet. They were not good enough to be hated. Besides, they played in the American League, and they never played the Mets in the regular season. I really didn’t hate any teams until 1988. 

I remember the exact moment. It was the day of my aunt’s bridal shower, which was being hosted at my parent’s house. The men were thrown into the basement to watch the NLCS. With the game tied at three, Jay Howell got caught cheating. He was using pine tar. When the Mets went off to score five runs after his ejection, it was the first time I experienced schadenfreude. 

The moment got me really interested and focused on the 1988 NLCS; more than an eight year old should. I lived and died with that team for the next four games. I was devastated when the Mets lost. I then hate watched the World Series for the first time in my life. Kirk Gibson‘s homerun was one of the greatest moments in MLB history. However, I was just angry the Dodgers won again. 

My hatred of the Dodgers would only grow from there. Darryl Strawberry was my favorite player. As a kid, I had no real grasp of free agency. The Dodgers would teach me all about it. I was in the car with my Dad listening to WFAN after we visited Nana. I then heard that Strawberry signed with the Dodgers. 

I didn’t understand. How could my favorite player go to the Dodgers?  He was a Met. I was crushed. It got worse. I also loved Gary Carter. Later that offseason, he would also sign with the Dodgers. I remember the first Mets-Dodgers game in 1991. I was sitting in my parent’s basement playing Strat-O-Matic with my Dad when the game started. 

As I grew older, I came to hate other teams more. However, I always hated the Dodgers.  It’s what made the Mike Piazza years even sweeter. It’s what made the Paul Lo Duca double tag out at home plate even better. It’s why I’m even more excited for this series. 

Lets Go Mets!

Dodgers & Mets All Stars

Whether people in Los Angeles know it, these two franchises will forever be linked. As many of you younger Mets fans (I can still call myself that, right?), many of our fathers grew up as a Brooklyn Dodger fan. They became Mets fans because the Dodgers left town. 

The Mets came into existence as a result of the Dodgers moving from Brooklyn. The Mets owners won’t quite let the Dodgers go. The teams have also shared stars. 

From Gil Hodges to Mike Piazza, former Dodger stars have found their way to the Mets. These Dodger stars have been important parts of Mets postseason runs:

You know what’s insane about that play?  You know other than it happened. Former Dodger Shawn Green relayed the ball to former Dodger Jose Valentin, who threw the ball to former Dodger Paul Lo Duca. The first runner tagged out was former Met Jeff Kent. It seems that J.D. Drew wasn’t supposed to be part of this play at all. 

In any event, rather than go on about how much I hate the Dodgers (don’t worry, that’s coming tomorrow) I thought it would be fun to name the best players who have played for the Mets and Dodgers. 

Some ground rules.  I want someone who played well with the Mets and Dodgers. Using a Giants example, I’m not picking Willie Mays for CF even though he could be the greatest CF in MLB history. I want someone like Piazza, who was great (or at least good) with both teams. So, here’s my list:

P – Bobby Ojeda

C – Mike Piazza

1B – Eddie Murray

2B – Jeff Kent

3B – Todd Zeile

SS – Jose Vizcaino

LF – Danny Heep

CF – Brett Butler

RF – Darryl Strawberry

Honestly, I thought this team would be better. The main problem was the derth of left fielders. Another problem was someone like Zeile. He played 3B for the Dodgers, but he mostly played 1B for the Mets. As you can tell, I leaned towards the player who was better as a Mets. If there are any suggestions, I’ll be happy to update this list. 

As we know, the Dodgers and Mets have a complicated history. The next chapter begins tomorrow night. Lets Go Mets!