Lenny Dykstra

Mets Should Never Hold Onto Prospects, Make Trades, Or Sign Free Agents

Looking at this past offseason, the Mets have traded away much of their future to improve the 2019 team. Top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn were part of a package for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Ross Adolph, Scott Manea, and Luis Santana were traded for J.D. Davis. Finally, Adam Hill, Felix Valerio, and Bobby Wahl were traded for Keon Broxton.

There has been some debate on each of these moves. Whereas many saw the Mets undervaluing assets, there have been a contingent who have justified the deal under the auspices of how not all prospects work out.

To a certain extent, there is validity to the prospects not panning out. With respect to Generation K, only Jason Isringhausen had a successful career, and that was as a reliever not the front line starter we expected him to be. Outfielders Fernando Martinez, Lastings Milledge, and Alex Ochoa weren’t even so much as a part-time player. Relievers like Eddie Kunz did nothing. The list goes on and on . . . .

Of course, this overlooks the prospects which have had successful careers. Tom Seaver was a Hall of Famer. David Wright, Jose Reyes, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, and Edgardo Alfonzo were all-time Mets greats. As we know, that list is much longer than that. It also includes Nolan Ryan, which was a trade which lives on in Mets infamy.

That was a trade of a young player who hasn’t figured it out for a past All-Star Jim Fregosi. While prevailing wisdom is that trade was a Mets disaster, the school of thought were you trade young players for proven Major League talent would be fully onboard with that deal. That does beg the question why people are against keeping prospects and are not against the Mets making trades.

Looking over Mets history, this team has made many horrible trades. In addition to the aforementioned Ryan for Fregosi trade, we have also seen several other poor trades in Mets history:

There are several others which have blown up in the Mets faces. In addition to that, there have been trades for players which have greatly under-performed for the Mets. In addition to the aforementioned players, you can include Roberto Alomar, Willie Mays, Joe Torre, and a litany of others did not perform when wearing a Mets uniform.

With the Mets losing valuable young players and with the team getting veterans who have not performed, you have to wonder why the Mets don’t just operate on the free agent market. Of course, the reason there is the extensive failures the Mets have made on that front. The list is well known, and Mets fans can cite them in their sleep – Jason Bay, Bobby Bonilla, Luis Castillo, Vince Coleman, George Foster, Oliver Perez, and many, many others.

Point is, no matter which way you look, you see a history of failures when it comes to the Mets organization. Their prospects always fail. They only trade for veterans in decline. Every free agent signing is a bust.

Of course, that’s not remotely the truth. When looking at each area, the Mets have had plenty of successes and failures. The goal for every General Manager is to have more success than failures and for those failures to not come back and bite you. That’s what defines periods like the 1980s Mets and also the period immediately thereafter.

So in the end, when judging moves, do it on their own merit and not because you believe the Mets prospects fail, trade acquisitions production declines, and every free agent is a bust.

Meet the Mets Fan: LHP Glendon Rusch

The Mets Fan

I am Glendon Rusch former LHP for the Royals, Mets, Brewers, Cubs, Padres & Rockies in that order. I was drafted by Kansas City in 1993 made my Major League debut in 1997. I was traded to the Mets in September of 1999 for Dan Murray. After retiring in 2009, I relaxed and played golf for 5 years before taking a job with the Padres to be the Pitching Coach for their Cal League team in Lake Elsinore. I was there 2015,16,17 and this year I am at home spending time with my family.

How I Became a Baseball Fan

I first became a baseball player/fan watching my 2 older brothers play when I was very young. Growing up in Seattle I was a huge Mariners and Braves Fan (TBS). I spent many games in the outfield bleachers in the King Dome.

Favorite Mets Player

My 3 favorite Mets all time were Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry and Nails Lenny Dykstra. I wore the number 18 all the way through high school and the minor leagues because of Straw until I got to the Big Leagues and this damn guy named Johnny Damon had it!!

Favorite Moment in Mets History

Favorite moment in Mets history was watching them win the 86 Series and of course us going to the Series in 2000. Most emotional/impactful game had to be the 1st game back after 9/11

Favorite Moment from Your Baseball Career

Most memorable moments of my career were winning my MLB debut in Minnesota, all 3 of my HR’s & walking through the center field gates in game 1 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium in a tie game in the 10th!!

Message to Mets Fans

To the Mets fans!! I am so thankful for my time as a Met and how the fans rooted for me and embraced me while I was there! I wish I could come back now and play for the Mets again and be a part of the Amazing pitching staff they have and most of all be able to listen to The 7 Line Army cheer me on!!

What I Want From the World Series

When your team is not in the World Series, the one thing you really want is a memorable World Series.  Even if a team you hates wins the World Series, you want to be rewarded for the time you invest watching the World Series.  In my lifetime, here are some of the World Series I found to be absolutely riveting:

1991 World Series

As for as World Series go, this one could very well be the gold standard.  Five of the seven games were decided by one run.  Three of the games went into extra innings including Games 6 and 7.  With Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Steve Avery, Kevin Tapani, and of course Jack Morris, there was great pitching that led to tense innings and rallies.  In six of the seven games, both teams scored five runs or less.  However, what truly made this series great was two all time games to close out the series.

In Game 6, Kirby Puckett put the Twins on his back.  He made that leaping catch snatching Ron Gant‘s home run from clearing that plexiglass, and then he hit a walk-off home run in the 11th inning that included a classic call:

Then in Game 7, Morris went the distance in a 1-0 10 inning game that featured rookie Chuck Knoblauch deking 13 year veteran Lonnie Smith from scoring the go-ahead run in the eighth inning that probably would have been the game winner.  Then in the 10th inning Gene Larkin became the unlikeliest of heroes by getting the World Series walk-off single.

1993 World Series

Generally speaking, this would have been an average World Series as most six game World Series are.  However, there was a lot in this World Series.

Lenny Dykstra turned into Babe Ruth during the series.  Roberto Alomar hit .480 in the series, and he wasn’t even the best hitter.  That honor goes to Paul Molitor who hit .500 in the series.  Game 4 saw the Blue Jays mount a frantic eighth inning come from behind rally to win by a score of 15-14.  And as if this wasn’t enough, in Game 6 Joe Carter did something only Bill Mazeroski had done:

1997 World Series

This series wasn’t particularly memorable despite a couple of slugfests in Games 3 and 5.  No, what made this series was an epic Game 7.  The Indians were seeking to win their first World Series since 1948.  They had their closer Jose Mesa on the mound and a 2-1 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth.

The Marlins first scratched in a run in the bottom of the ninth with a Craig Counsell sacrifice fly scoring Moises Alou.  The Marlins started the game winning rally in the bottom of the 11th with a Bobby Bonillia single off Charles NagyEventually, the Marlins loaded the bases with one out.  Devon White, who won the World Series with the aforementioned Blue Jays, grounded into a force play with Tony Fernandez nailing Bonilla at the plate.  Then with two outs, rookie Edgar Renteria singled home Counsell to win the World Series.

Note, this would’ve been rated much higher if not for the MVP mysteriously being given to Livan Hernandez (5.27 ERA) over Alou, and for Bonilla having such a huge Game 7.

2001 World Series

This World Series had it all.  Curt Schilling did the old fashioned 1-4-7 you want your ace to do in the biggest series of the year.  Randy Johnson was better than that shutting out the Yankees in Game 2, shutting them down in Game 6, and pitching on no days rest to keep the Yankees at bay in Game 7.

Game 7 was an epic back-and-forth matchup.  Alfonso Soriano broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the eighth to set the stage for the great Mariano Rivera who is the greatest postseaon closer, if not pitcher, of all time.  This would be the one World Series blown save in his career.  He was uncharacteristically frazzled making an error on a sacrifice bunt attempt.  Still, he recovered, and the Yankees got the forceout at third on the next bunt attempt.  Tony Womack would then shock everyone by hitting a game tying double.  After Counsell (him again) was hit by a pitch, Luis Gonzalez would bloop a walk-off World Series winning single over the head of Derek Jeter.

However, that World Series was not memorable for Game 7.  It was memorable because those games were played post-9/11, and they were memorable due to what happened at Yankee Stadium.  Before Game 3, President Bush threw a curveball for a strike off the mound before a hard fought Yankees win.  In Game 4, the Yankees were on the verge of falling behind 3-1 in the series before Tino Martinez hit an improbably two out home run off Byung-hyun Kim to tie the game, and Jeter hit a walk-off home run in the 10th to become “Mr. November.”  In Game 5, the Yankees were again down two runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.  This time it was Scott Brosius who did the impossible hitting a game tying two run home run to send the game into extras with Soriano getting the walk-off hit in the 12th.

Overall, baseball does not get better than that three game set in the Bronx, especially in the backdrop those games were played.

2002 World Series

This World Series was memorable for a few reasons: (1) The Angels not being able to get Barry Bonds out; (2) J.T. Snow saving Dusty Baker‘s son at home plate; and (3) that Rally Monkey.

That Rally Monkey was all the more prevalent in Game 6.  In that game, Baker made the fateful decision to lift Russ Ortiz with a 5-0 lead, two on, and one out in the seventh inning.  Scott Spiezio greeted Felix Rodriguez with a three run homer.  Darin Erstad then led off the seventh inning with a solo shot off Todd Worrell.  Worrell made matters worse by allowing back-to-back singles thereby putting closer Robb Nen in a precarious situation.  Nen would allow a go-ahead two run double to World Series MVP Troy Glaus giving the Angels a 6-5 win.  In Game 7, rookie John Lackey took care of business and shut down a Giants team that should have won the World Series in Game 6.

2011 World Series

For the most part, this was a well played if not memorable World Series through the first five games.  In the seventh inning, Adrian Beltre broke a 4-4 tie that sparked a three run inning that seemingly was going to deliver the first ever World Series title to the Rangers franchise.  The World Series title was going to be even sweeter for a Rangers team that had their doors blown off in the 2010 World Series.

In the eighth, Allen Craig hit a solo shot to draw the Cardinals within two.  There was still a large enough lead for the excellent Rangers closer, Neftali Feliz to put the game to rest.  The game was there to win even after a Albert Pujols double and a Lance Berkman walk.  Then with two outs, David Freese unleashed a two RBI game tying double to keep the World Series alive.  If that wasn’t painful enough, the Rangers were in for more pain.

Josh Hamilton would hit a two run homer in the top of the 10th to give the Rangers the lead.  At this point, victory was almost assured.  The Cardinals were undeterred putting the first two on against Darren Oliver.  After a sacrifice bunt, Ryan Theriot plated a run with an RBI groundout, and Berkman brought home the tying run with an RBI single.

The Rangers would have no response in either Game 6 or Game 7.  In the bottom of the 11th, Freese, the World Series MVP, would hit a walk-off home run that not only sealed Game 6, but also demoralized a Rangers team heading into Game 7.

2014 World Series

Of note, five of the first six games were terrible.  Absolutely terrible.  Through the first six games, the average margin of victory was six runs per game, and that includes a one run game in Game 3.  Taking aside Game 3, the average margin of victory was seven runs per game.  This is really the type of series you expect with some truly terrible starting pitching on both sides.  In fact, the only starter who was actually good was Madison Bumgarner.

That’s an understatement.  Bumgarner made Morris look like a Little Leaguer with his World Series performance.  In his World Series MVP performance, he appeared in three games going 2-0 with one save, a 0.43 ERA and a 0.476 WHIP.  He came out of the bullpen in the fifth inning in Game 7 with the Giants having a 3-2 lead.  Watching him pitch on two days rest, you kept waiting for him to falter, and then this happened:

Alex Gordon‘s two out single almost became a Little League home run with Gregor Blanco letting the ball bounce past him and Juan Perez nearly booting the ball away.  The debate would rage for days as to whether he should have gone home (he shouldn’t have) with Bumgarner being Bumgarner.  Those that believed he should have gone only intensified their arguments when Salvador Perez fouled out to Pablo Sandoval to end the World Series.

2017 World Series

There is enough here for a classic World Series with two great teams, and two great storylines.  Honestly, the Indians fans deserve this more as they are far more tortured than the Cubs fan.  Ideally, this series goes seven with the Indians pulling it out in classic fashion.  Hopefully, a majority of the games are close.  No matter what happens, all we need is one or two games or moments to make this a series for the ages.  That’s all we can realistically hope to get.

Things are already off to a good start with Dexter Fowler being the first ever black man to play for the Chicago Cubs in a World Series game.

It’s Not World Series or Bust

I remember back in 2000, the stories were that Bobby Valentine needed to make the World Series in order to keep his job. The amazing thing is he actually did it. 

Just think about everything that had to happen that year for the Mets to make the World Series. First, the Mets had an overhaul of its outfield during the season.  On Opening Day, the Mets outfield was, from left to right, Rickey HendersonDarryl HamiltonDerek Bell. At the end of the year, it was Benny AgbayaniJay Payton-Derek Bell. Agbayani was only on the Opening Day roster because MLB allowed the team to have expanded rosters for their opening series in Japan. 

On top of that, Todd Zeile was signed to replace John Olerud. Zeile had to become a first baseman after playing third for 10 years. Edgardo Alfonzo had to adapt from moving from the second spot in the lineup to the third spot. The Mets lost Rey Ordonez to injury and first replaced him with Melvin Mora for 96 games before trading him for the light hitting Mike Bordick. More or less, all of these moves worked. Then came the postseason. 
A lot happened in the NLDS. After losing Game One, the Mets faced a quasi must win in Game Two. They were leading before Armando Benitez blew a save. I know. I’m shocked too. The Mets regained the lead, and they won the game when John Franco got a borderline third strike call against Barry Bonds. In Game Three, the Mets won on a Agbayani 13th inning walk off homerun. This was followed by Bobby Jones closing out the series on a one-hitter. 

The Mets were then fortunate that the Braves lost to the Cardinals in the other NLDS series. The Mets tore through the Cardinals with new leadoff hitter Timo Perez. We saw all that luck run out in the World Series. We watched Zeile’s potential homerun land on top of the fence and bounce back. On the same play, Perez was thrown out at home. In the same game, Benitez blew the save. Unfortunately, there were no more heroics. 

We saw this repeated in 2015. The epically bad Mets offense had to have its pitching hold things together until help came. Part of that required the Nationals to underperform while the Mets were fighting tooth and nail just to stay in the race. 

In the NLDS, the Mets were on the verge of elimination. They weren’t eliminated because somehow, some way Jacob deGrom pitched six innings with absolutely nothing. The Mets then needed Daniel Murphy to have a game for the ages. He stole a base while no one was looking, and he hit a big homerun. It was part of an amazing run through the postseason for Murphy. Like in 2000, it came to a crashing halt in the World Series. 

No matter how good your team is, it takes a lot of luck to win the World Series. Look at the 86 Mets. 

In the NLCS, they barely outlasted the Astros. In Game Three, they needed a Lenny Dykstra two run homerun in the bottom of the ninth to win 6-5. In Game Five, Gary Carter hit a walk off single in the 12th to send the Mets back to Houston up 3-2. It was important because they didn’t want to face Mike Scott and his newfound abilities. With that pressure, they rallied from three down in the ninth, blew a 14th inning lead, and nearly blew a three run lead in the 16th inning. 

Following this, the Mets quickly fell down 0-2 in the World Series before heading to Boston. After taking 2/3 in Boston, the Mets had to rally in the eighth just to tie Game Six. There are books that can be written not only about the 10th inning, but also Mookie Wilson‘s at bat. 

First, they had to have a none on two out rally with each batter getting two strikes against them.  For Calvin Schiraldi to even be in the position to meltdown, he had to be traded by the Mets to the Red Sox heading into the 1986 season. In return, the Mets got Bobby Ojeda, who won Game Three and started Game Six. John McNamara removed Schiraldi way too late and brought in Bob Stanley. His “wild pitch” in Mookie’s at bat allowed the tying run to score. You know the rest:

By the way, keep in mind Bill Buckner wasn’t pulled for a defensive replacement. Also, the Mets had to rally late from 3-0 deficit just to tie Game Seven. 

We need to keep all of this is mind when setting expectations for the 2016 season. Terry Collins is right when he says World Series title or bust is unfair. We know way too much can happen between now and the World Series. Right now, the only goal should be winning the NL East. If the Mets do that, they have met their reasonable expectations. After that, the Mets are going to need a little luck to win the World Series. 

Fortunately, the Mets are carrying a four leaf clover in the form of Matt HarveyJacob deGromNoah Syndergaard, and Jeurys Familia

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

NYC Can’t Cure Baseball’s Problems

This is a whole new generation. When I was growing up, we had candy cigarettes (gone) and Big League Chew (still around). While playing baseball, we used to have the candy cigarettes so we could smoke like Keith Hernandez, or we would shove a ton of Big League Chew in our mouths to look like Lenny Dykstra. Dykstra was such a legendary chewer that he was said to have stained the AstroTurf at the old Vet. 

As kids, we used this stuff because we thought it was cool to look like ballplayers. Did we try to real stuff?  Well, not as kids. It’s s good thing too because it would’ve been like that scene in The Sandlot:

Personally, I never really had any interest. Part of the reason was my parents. Another part was I was a catcher. I’ve seen catchers who have used chewing tobacco, but to me that was a pain. I tried seeds, which is similar in principle, but it annoyed me. So I went without any of it for most of my baseball life. 

Then I got older, got big, and was moved out from behind the plate. Part of “rookie” hazing was getting them to throw in a dip and watch the hilarity ensue. It wasn’t pleasant. 

In any event, I found myself playing that dreaded DH position more and more, which means you spend a lot of time on the bench. Many of those guys throw one in, so you usually do as well. You practice that finger motion with your index finger so you can pack it better and tighter. One day, it all becomes second nature. 

When I was in college, it was great. There were a couple of nights, it helped me get through the all-nighters. Also, there were some bars in the area where if you didn’t throw one in, you were out of place. Honestly, I wasn’t so much addicted to it as I loved doing it.  

A good friend of mine and me used to love dipping while watching baseball games. We would not only watch the games, but we would also keep an eye out for who was dipping. You would see the finger going in the dugout. The circle shape in the player’s uniform pants. That ever so slight bump in the bottom lip. If you ever saw it in the top lip, you knew that guy was having real problems. Looking at the Mets now, I can tell you who does and who doesn’t dip. I can do that for any team if I watch them long enough. 

Eventually, I quit. It really is a nasty habit. More importantly, it’s dangerous. We saw Tony Gwynn die too young because of it. We saw Curt Schilling battle cancer. As much as I enjoyed it, it really wasn’t worth it. 

The strange part is I never would’ve started had it not been part of baseball’s culture. No sport is as associated with smokeless tobacco than baseball. I thought about all of this when I saw Tim Rohan’s New York Times article about New York City looking to ban smokeless tobacco from being used in places like Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. 

There’s a lively debate to be had here about whether this law is a good idea or not. It’s a debate that should occur. However, at the end of the day, I’m more concerned for that two year old of mine that loves baseball. I realize that NYC can put every law in place they want, but it won’t matter.  It doesn’t matter because the problem is baseball. 

The city bans smoking, but we hear about Yoenis Cespedes smoking between innings. We see players using smokeless tobacco all over the field. As we see with Cespedes, a player will find a work-around. You should hear how they work around smokeless tobacco bans and stigmas in other sports. Overall, players will always find a way to do it. 

If that’s the case, it’ll always be associated with baseball, and that’s not a good thing. Baseball needs to help find a reasonable solution to this because what they have so far isn’t working. They need to figure it out because one day that Big League Chew becomes Skoal or Red Man. That needs to stop before another generation of players starts using it. 

I don’t want to see another Tony Gwynn. 

Dykstra is Full of It

By now, you’ve heard that Lenny Dykstra used private eyes to gather information on umpires for his benefit: 

Do I think Dykstra is capable of this?  Absolutely. However, he’s capable of it. I still don’t believe him. 

Now, we need to pinpoint the veracity of his claim, we need to figure out when it supposedly happened.  He wasn’t definitive when, but he knew the net result was the walks. The key to his statement was the year after he did this, he lead the league in walks. Looking at this, his statement proves out. 

In 1992, he only had 40 walks. The next year his walks soared astronomically. He went from those 40 walks to 129 walks. It’s also true there was money at stake because Dykstra was arbitration eligible.  This is where the story falls apart. 

In 1992, Dykstra made $2,316,667. The typical percentage paid to an agent is 5%. That reduces his income to $2,200,834. Union dues were $3,660. It’s negligible, but it reduces the income to $2,197,173. Now, there’s the tax issue. The tax rate in 1992 was 31%. There are deductions and the like which would reduce the effective tax rate. However, he also has state and city taxes to pay. Pennsylvania had a flat rate of 2.95%. To be conservative, let’s assume Dykstra paid 25% in taxes. 

Dykstra’s disposable income would then be $1,647,880.  This doesn’t even include living expenses. Are we to believe Dykstra spent roughly one-third of his disposable income on blackmailing umpires. I can’t. There’s a bigger reason beyond the financial feasibility. 

It doesn’t make sense. Let’s say Dykstra did as he said. Wouldn’t the catcher use the same information to get strike calls for his pitcher. Was there a spike in catcher walk rates I don’t know about?  Of course not. Let’s call it for what it is. He had a career year. 

Besides that, his walk rate declined. It was 0.80 in 1993 and 1994. The next year?  It was 0.65. Did the umpires start ignoring him?  No. He had two good years. Why?  We it just so happens he started using steroids. His slugging percentage went from .402 to .482. He went from 6 to 19 homers. He went from 18 to 44 doubles. Pitchers will be more careful and more likely to walk you. 

However, that’s not the main reason I don’t believe him. The main reason I don’t believe him is he’s a fraud. Literally. He lead everyone to believe he was a money genius. He was just cheating the system just like he did with the steroids. He’s lied and concealed. It’s the behavior that makes you think he could’ve spied on umpires. Ultimately, however, it seems more like the typical braggadocio he’s had his entire life.

It sure made a good story, but that’s all it is. A story. 

Homefield Magic Number is 4

There are two choices for 4. The first is Ron Swoboda, who was a key contributor to the 1969 Mets World Series victory:

However, my choice for Magic Man Number 4 will be Lenny Dykstra:

 
I chose Dykstra mostly because I got to see him play. I chose him because he was amazing in the 1986 postseason. 

In the NLCS, he hit .304/.360/.565. He hit a walk off two run homerun in Game 3 of the NLCS to give the Mets a 6-5 win. He got the Game 6 ninth inning rally started with a leadoff triple. Everyone who watched this NLCS discuss the importance of winning in six with NLCS MVP Mike Scott scheduled to pitch Game 7. 

In the World Series, Dykstra hit .296/.345/.519. Strangely enough, Dykstra was so big in big games that this was his worst ever postseason series. Dykstra lead off Game 3 in Boston with a homerun. This was important as the Mets came to Boston after losing the first two at Shea. 

When Dykstra did all of this, he was only 23 years old. It shows that it’s not an issue of experience come October. Rather, it’s an issue of who has ice water running through their veins. This is important to keep in mind because the Mets run largely rests with their young pitching. 

The young pitching has met every challenge thus far. As Dykstra shows us, they will meet the challenges they face en route to the World Series. 

What Can We Expect from Wright?

I’m not the first, and I’m not going to be the last to compare David Wright and Don Mattingly. My goal today is to hopefully be a little more nuanced than a side by side comparison. Rather, I want to see exactly how back problems deteriorated Mattingly’s abilities. 

Normally, I would use Lenny Dykstra as a comparable because he also has spinal stenosis. However, I don’t know if I can trust any of his stats with his steroids usage. We do know like Wright, Mattingly suffered from a low back injury. The nature of the two injuries are different, but they are both chronic problems. 

It appears the problems first surfaced in 1987. In that year, Mattingly went from a 7.2 WAR to a 5.1 WAR player. In essence, he went from a superstar to an All Star player. He would then quickly deteriorate into just a “good” player. Mattingly’s back worsened in 1990, and with that he became a -0.3 player, which translates to a bad player. For the rest of his career, Mattingly would be nothing more than a solid starter. He retired at the early age of 34. 

Wright has had a terrific career, arguably better than Mattingly. In 2007 and 2008, Wright was a superstar player, as per WAR. In 2009, the Mets moved to Citi Field and Wright was nothing more than a solid starter. In 2010, Wright suffered a broken back. Unlike Mattingly, Wright would rebound from his back injury to put up superstar numbers again in 2012 and 2013. 

Last year, Wright regressed again. However, last year it was a shoulder injury and not a back injury. This year it was discovered that Wright has spinal stenosis. We don’t know if it’s related to the 2010 injury. 

What I do know is that Wright and Mattingly are two different players. We have seen that Wright once overcame a back injury, a different back injury, to return to superstar form. Mattingly never did. So yes, both are popular New York corner infielders. Both have back injuries. 

However, they are two different players with two different back injuries. We shouldn’t be comparing them to determine how the rest of Wright’s career is going to proceed. Wright is a different player and person. 

I’m nervous about Wright, but after 2012 and 2013, I won’t bet against him. 

Put Me in Coach . . .

“Look at me, I can be Centerfield.”  That is about as fun as the baseball songs get. Another one of my favorites is “Talkin’ Baseball” with it’s famous refrain of “Willie, Mickey, the Duke.” As you can see, Centerfield is an important position with much history in New York City.  You always hear about those good old days of Willie, Mickey, and the Duke playing CF in New York City at the same time. That doesn’t seem fair or possible. The Yankees have had an absurd tradition with their centerfielders with Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. The Mets tradition hasn’t been as good, but then again whose has? However, we’ve had some fun names and good players come through and man centerfield in Flushing.

In 1969, the Mets had Tommie Agee, who for at least the 1969 World Series, was the best defensive CF to ever play the game: 

Unfortunately, the Mets did try Willie Mays out in CF in the last two years of his career. From what I’ve been told, it did not end well. Then there was fan favorite Lee Mazzilli, who played for some truly awful Mets teams. However, he was the star, if not the MVP, of of the 1979 All Star Game (back when the ASG meant something). Lee Mazzilli then gave way to Ron Darling. They would both win a World Series together with the Mets in 1986.

Speaking of 1986, the Mets had two other fan favorites who played CF: Mookie Wilson and Lenny Dykstra. Both contributed to the 1986 World Series victory immensely between Dykstra’s leadoff homerun against Oil Can Boyd, and well, we know about Wilson:

After that, we saw a bit of a dry spell with highlights like Lance Johnson, the late Darryl Hamilton, Jay Payton, and Mike Cameron. Then, we were blessed with Carlos Beltran. Say what you will about the Wainwright strikeout, in my opinion, he’s even money on making it into the Hall of Fame, and there’s a significant chance he goes in as a New York Met. Although with the way he was treated here by the fans, and mostly by the Wilpons, he’s probably going in as a Royal.

Now after Juan Lagares’ 2014 Gold Glove season and reasonable contract extension, we’re back to who should play CF. This is important because Lagares has a triple slash line of .254/.280/.333. Even if he was what he was defensively last year, this is unacceptable. Honestly, I think a lot of it has to do with his injured elbow. Regardless, CF is now a problem.

It should be noted his splits against LHP are .279/.338/.412. That is much better especially when you consider his defense. Add to the fact that Kirk Nieuwenhuis has hit .333/.400/.444 over the past two weeks (mostly against RHP), there is a real platoon here. Niewenhuis is a very capable CF, but he’s not in Lagares’ league defensively . . . then again who is?

With the Yoenis Cespedes acquisition, there have been some overtures that Curtis Granderson move to CF, a position he hasn’t played since 2012. This is dangerous because the Mets starting pitchers get more outs in the air than on the ground this year. Here are their respective ground ball percentages:

Matt Harvey 44.4%

Jacob deGrom 43.2%

Noah Syndergaard 45.9%

Jon Niese 54.6%

Bartolo Colon 39.9%

According, with the exception of maybe Niese, the Mets need their best defensive outfield out there are all times. This means Lagares must play as much as possible. Granderson and his good OF defense should stay in a corner OF spot where it will remain good defense. While Lagares isn’t hitting and Nieuwenhuis is, the platoon should remain in place.

While we all agree the Mets need to ride their pitching to the postseason, we should also agree that they need to put their best defense out there to help the pitching. Remember helping a pitcher is more than just scoring runs . . . it’s also about preventing runs with good defense. The only effect the Cespedes acquisition should have on the outfield configuration is to demote Michael Conforto to AAA and put Cespedes in LF, where he has played all year. I think that outfield alignment is the best there is that is ready to go out there and play.