Mike Pelfrey

The Frustrating And Finally Over Mike Pelfrey Baseball Career

Former Mets pitcher Mike Pelfrey has retired from the game of baseball after a 12 year career, and he has accepted an assistant coaching position with Division II Newman University.  Now, Pelfrey can play the part of Rick Peterson in helping a young pitcher learn about which one of his pitches is like putting ketchup on ice cream.

Reflecting back on Pelfrey’s career, I mostly remember the disappointment.

There was his inability to jump from being the ninth overall pick in the 2005 draft to truly help an injured Mets rotation.  That certainly stung when we watched Steve Trachselget pounded for five runs over the first two innings of a pivotal Game 3 of the 2006 NLCS.

There was also Pelfrey being a part of the 2007 and 2008 teams that collapsed. In 2007, his September 24th start saw the beginning of a five game losing streak with the Mets losing six of their last seven games to see a two game lead become an embarrassing collapse.

Pelfrey was a much better pitcher in 2008 with him going 13-11 with a 3.72 ERA.  His improved pitching did not stop him from going 0-3 with a 4.06 ERA to help the Mets second consecutive collapse.

Still, Pelfrey showed enough to give Mets fans faith for the future.  To that end, the rotation was set up so he would be the first ever Mets pitcher to toe the rubber at Citi Field.  The third pitch throw in Citi Field history would be deposited by Jody Gerut into the left field stands for a lead-off homer.

Still, with Pelfrey, Mets fans always had hope for him, and we were waiting for him to finally turn that corner to be the front line starter we all imagined he could be.  It just never happened for him.

He followed a good 2008 with a disappointing 2009.  He rebounded in 2010 by winning 15 games, but he then went 7-13 with a 4.74 ERA.  By that point, we all figured he was one of those every-other-year type of pitchers.  It all seemed that way when he jumped out of the gate in 2012.

Through three starts, he had not recorded a decision, but he had a 2.29 ERA.  His last start was an eight inning gem that would have been a win had the Mets not started that season with Frank Francisco as the Opening Day closer.  A few days later, it was announced Pelfrey tore his UCL, and he was going to require season ending Tommy John surgery.

With his impending free agency, this mean that April 21st start would be his last in a Mets uniform.  It would seem somewhat fitting his last win in a Mets uniform was from the previous August when he had a six inning three earned run quality start against the Phillies.

That was Pelfrey’s Mets career.  His flashes of brilliance really led nowhere, and you were left to look for the little joys in his moments of mediocrity.

Still, it wasn’t all bad memories. He did bring hope with him. He was a player who chomped on his mouth-guard and kicked his fingers while he tried so desperately to succeed. As noted, there was a few seasons he did succeed. There was also a signature moment.

In 2010, there was a crazy 20 inning game between the Mets and Cardinals. With the Mets out of relievers and the team desperately clinging to a 2-1 lead, Pelfrey entered the game despite throwing 106 pitches just two days prior. On that day, Pelfrey saved the day.

That was always the case with Pelfrey. He was always willing, and he did all he could to improve even if that meant his stop putting ketchup in his ice cream.

In the end, he put together a 12 year Major League career full of adversity and perseverance. It’s a career un which he can take much pride. It’s one that will be of immense value as he now seems to impart his wisdom to a new generation of pitchers.

As a Mets fan, I know I wish him the best of luck.

For Thanksgiving, What Each Met Should Be Thankful For

On Thanksgiving, it’s time to go around the Mets 2017 roster and name something each player should be thankful for:

Nori AokiHe looked so much better in September than he did in all of 2017 by being competent while playing on a dysfunctional team.

Jerry BlevinsThroughout all the stress of the season and his extreme workload, the man didn’t even put on one pound.

Chasen BradfordWith his call-up to the majors, he’s now on the short list for best beards in Mets history.

Jay BruceHe learned from his experience last year, and he played well for a team that acquired him in a trade.

Asdrubal CabreraAs we found out this season, all he wanted the Mets to do was to pick up his option so he could provide for him family.  With the Mets having done that, he can now rest easy.

Jamie CallahanOne day when bards tell the tale of the six right-handed relievers the Mets acquired at the 2017 deadline, they will regale us all with stories of how Callahan was the first of them to finish out a game the Mets won.

Gavin CecchiniHe made the switch from short to second where it will be easier for him to make it to the majors.  That goes double if the Mets who are tightening payroll off a poor season don’t bring in a free agent to play the position.

Yoenis CespedesWith Cespedes missing half the season, that left a lot of time for him to hit the course.

Michael Conforto – Collins is gone meaning no one is standing in his way from being a superstar anymore.

Travis d’Arnaud – He became the greatest defensive second baseman in Mets history by posting a 1.000 fielding percentage at the position.

Jacob deGromWith him pitching so well this year, he knows he will finally be able to cash in in arbitration thereby allowing him to afford a haircut.

Lucas Duda – The slugger was the first Mets player traded at the deadline, and he temporarily got to avoid the We Follow Lucas Duda filming.

Josh EdginHe could be the only pitcher in the history of the Mets organization who is capable of getting both Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy out.

Phillip EvansAfter winning a batting title in 2016, having a good Spring Training, and a good second half for Vegas, the Mets finally decided to let him post similarly good numbers for them in September.

Jeurys FamiliaBlood clots in his shoulder costing him most of the season made most people forget why he missed the beginning of the season.

Chris FlexenAs we learned with Mike Pelfrey, being a Mets pitcher who struggled in the majors after completely skipping Triple-A will get you career earnings of roughly $47 million.

Wilmer FloresHe fouled a ball off his face, and he lived to tell about it.

Sean GilmartinWith his going from the Mets to the Cardinals, he was able to prove he wasn’t bad.  It was just the Mets as an organization did not employ anyone capable of knowing he was actually injured.

Erik GoeddelNo matter how much he struggled this season, he will never be the most hated person in pro sports with the last name pronounced GO-dell\n
Curtis GrandersonHe had a front row seat to seeing Chase Utley fail in the postseason.

Robert GsellmanHe has so much self confidence he doesn’t care what anyone things of him.

Matt HarveyBetween the Tommy John, TOS, and the Mets rushing him into the rotation with atrophied muscles in his throwing arm knowing he wouldn’t really be ready until a month into the season, he should be thankful for getting out of the season with his right arm still attached.

Ty Kelly He got out of here after one game thereby preventing Nurse Ratched from getting to him and ending his season.

Juan LagaresWith all the injuries and the Mets looking to cut payroll, he is once again the center fielder of the future.

Seth LugoAs we learned in the WBC and regular season, when he’s blonde, he’s Cy Young the first two times through the order.

Steven MatzWith him suffering the same injury deGrom suffered last year, we all know he can come back from this to be the same exact injury prone pitcher he was before the surgery.

Kevin McGowanHe will always have a special place in Mets fans hearts as it was his call-up that forced Ramirez off the roster.

Tommy MiloneHe was able to find a team that was okay with him having an ERA over 8.00.

Rafael Montero For the first time in his life, he wasn’t a complete abomination as a pitcher.

Tomas NidoEven with his struggles at the plate in Binghamton, he can rest easy knowing the Mets don’t expect an OBP over .300 from their catchers.

Brandon NimmoNo one, not matter what, has been able to wipe that smile off of his face.

Tyler PillIn a year of embarrassing pitching performances by Mets pitchers, Pill actually acquitted himself quite well before suffering his season ending injury.

Kevin Plawecki – He’s so well liked by his teammates that someone left him a present in his locker, which apparently has inspired him to hit the ball harder and longer thereby resurrecting his career.

Neil RamirezSomehow, someway, he was not the absolute worst pitcher on a team’s pitching staff.

AJ RamosTo him, getting traded to the Mets meant he was traded to a team that actually spends money in the offseason.

Addison ReedHe was so good this year he was worth not just one but three right-handed relievers.

Jose ReyesThe Mets didn’t cut him or his playing time no matter how horrible he played during the 2017 season.

Matt ReynoldsHe got that long look in September Sandy Alderson promised him.  Unfortunately, that only amounted to him getting 10 games to show what he could do at the MLB level.

Jacob RhameHe’s with an organization that has had success getting flame throwing right-handed pitchers who have slimmed down since getting drafted reach their full potential.

Rene RiveraAfter failing to whisper loud enough to help the Mets pitchers pitch better, he was able to go to the Cubs to help their pitchers lead them to an NLCS berth.

T.J. Rivera – With Warthen and Ramirez gone, he’s not going to have to worry about anyone mishandling his return from Tommy John.

Hansel RoblesIn his mind every ball hit in the air is an inning ending pop up.

Amed RosarioHe didn’t have to have his development hampered by being expected to be the savior when he was called-up to the majors as the Mets were well out of contention on August 1st.

Fernando SalasDespite his rough stint with the Mets, he was able to land with the Angels to end the season thereby proving it was the Mets handling of pitchers and not him that was terrible.

Paul SewaldAs a reward for all of his hard work in Vegas, he got the privilege of being the arm Collins loved to abuse during the season.

Dominic SmithHe finally got his call-up in August in Philadelphia of all places allowing him to celebrate the accomplishment and the win with a cheesesteak from Pat’s.  (NOTE: not a cheapshot at his weight, this actually happened)

Josh SmokerAfter the Mets finally gave up on using a pitcher with a history of shoulder issues as the long man in the pen, he showed the team in September that he could be as a lefty out of the pen to get lefties out.

Noah SyndergaardMr. Met flipped off someone this year other than him.

Travis TaijeronWith the Dodgers just signing him to a minor league deal, he is now all but assured of becoming the next Justin Turner.

Neil Walker – The Mets moved him to the Brewers where he was able to re-establish his free agency value by being productive and by staying healthy, which was coincidentally was when he was away from the Mets medical team.

Adam WilkBecause Harvey was at home one day in his pajamas, he set off on a path where he would become eligible to earn a share of the postseason money awarded to the Twins for claiming the second Wild Card.

Zack WheelerInstead of missing two years due to injury, he missed two months.

David WrightDespite all evidence to the contrary, the Mets still have not given up on him.

Terry CollinsAt the end of the day, he was able to make a friend of Fred Wilpon who had his back no matter what.  We should all be so lucky.

Dan WarthenHe found a new group of pitchers in Texas who have elbows waiting to learn how to throw that Warthen Slider.

Kevin LongAfter departing the Mets, he was able to smuggle the page out of his binders that showed exactly how he turned Daniel Murphy into Babe Ruth.  He can now bring that with him to Washington.

Sandy AldersonCollins was so poor at managing, he was able to convince ownership it was all Collins’ fault and not his for poorly constructing a roster.

Mets FansWell, even if it wasn’t at this post, we all still have a sense of humor, and we can still laugh at what we put up with from this team on a daily basis.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Mets Putting Flexen In A Tough Spot

It is interesting when you think about it.  The Mets waited and waited and waited before they would bring up Amed Rosario.  They waited for the Asdrubal Cabrera situation to calm down.  They wanted him to be playing well.  In essence, the Mets wanted the perfect situation to call-up Rosario to put him in the best position to succeed.

The Mets did this despite many believing he was ready.  The Mets were willing to deal with poor defense at shortstop, and perhaps the 2017 to protect him.

The Mets handling of Rosario makes how they are handling Chris Flexen all the more curious.

Unlike Rosario, there was no calls for Flexen to be called-up to the majors.  Even with the injuries, most thought the right call would have been to put Tyler Pill back into the major league rotation.  There was nothing to lose there.  The Mets season was already going nowhere, and Pill had some success in an earlier stint in the Mets rotation.  Instead, the Mets made the bold and perhaps inspired choice to call Flexen up to the majors from Double-A.  It was something the Mets have not done since 2006 with Mike Pelfrey.

Flexen was initially set up for success with him making his debut in San Diego.  Petco Park is a pitcher’s park, and the Padres are not a great team.  Unfortunately, Flexen would struggle, and he would last only three innings.

From there, Flexen took the mound in Coors Field, which was hardly the ideal spot for a any pitcher let alone one whose best pitch is his curveball.  Like he did in San Diego, Flexen struggled, and again, he would last just three innings.  He would depart that game with a blister.

Instead of sending him down after two tough outings, or putting him on the disabled list with the blister, the Mets are going to send Flexen back on the mound.  This time it is against the Texas Rangers.  While it is a down year for the Rangers, they do have veteran hitters like Adrian Beltre who can give a young pitcher fits.  He’s doing this coming off two rough starts and with a blister on his finger.

Who knows?  Maybe this is the best way to test a young pitcher and find out something about him. It’s possible he will be better for the experience.  He could learn what he needs to improve to be able to get outs at this level.  All in all, there’s an argument for made for letting him struggle.  To that end, Flexen has shown poise on the mound despite him not getting results.

However, this all begs the question – if the Mets are so willing to call up Flexen before he was ready and put him in difficult situations, why wouldn’t they do the same with Rosario?

 

It Wasn’t Easy, But It Was a Grandy Win

It doesn’t matter that the Twins are one if the worst teams in baseball. When you’re fighting for a postseason spot, the games are going to be tough. Tonight, the Twins showed a lot of fight. It certainly helped them that they were sending their ace, Ervin Santana, to the mound. 

And you know with him being a former Brave, he’s pitches well against the Mets. That’s exactly what happened tonight. 

The Mets did absolutely nothing against Santana for the first four innings. T.J. Rivera got things started with a single, and he moved to second on a balk. Because Paul Molitor apparently had no idea James Loney isn’t good, he ordered an intentional walk. It wouldn’t burn the Twins. First, Rene Rivera struck out. Then, Terry Collins gambled a bit pinch hitting Kelly Johnson for the starter Seth Lugo. Johnson popped out to end the inning. 

It also closed the door on Lugo. It was the typical bend but don’t break Lugo outing where he found an extra gear on his fastball and three more curves when he was in trouble. The only run the Twins were able to score off of him was an Eddie Rosaro solo homer in the fourth. 

Lugo’s final line would be five innings, four hits, one run, one earned, four walks, and two strikeouts. 

The Mets had a chance to get Lugo off the hook in the seventh. T.J. got the rally sterted with a cue shot double down the first baseline followed by another inexplicable intentional walk to Loney. Alejandro De Aza pinch hit for Rene and walked to load the bases. Terry Collins then made two strange decisions. 

The second, but most puzzling, was his waiting for a pitch to be thrown before having Ty Kelly pinch run for Loney. The other curious decision was going to Michael Conforto to pinch hit. It was strange because Conforto has been idle for too long and because he’s been uncomfortable pinch hitting. Furthermore, the Mets activated Lucas Duda just for spots like this. Collins went with Conforto, who had a bad at bat striking out on four pitches. 

The bad news was the Mets missed out on another huge scoring opportunity. The good news was Santana was done for the night. 

Jose Reyes gave a rude welcome to Twins reliever Ryan Pressly by hitting the first pitch by Pressly for a single. Reyes would quickly find himself on second after a wild pitch and an Asdrubal Cabrera groundout. With the game on the line, Yoenis Cespedes was at the plate with a 3-2 count, and he would lunge at a ball off the plate:

Of course, he came through in that spot tying the game at one. Molitor went to his left in the pen Taylor Rogers. Rogers would make quick work of the two lefties Collins was so nice to stack in the middle of the lineup, Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce. By the way, Bruce, the man Collins has the utmost confidence, was 0-5 with a strikeout. 

The game would go into extras as:

Lost with the Mets practically emptying their bench was terrific work out of the bullpen. Josh SmokerFernando SalasJerry BlevinsAddison ReedJeurys Familia, and Hansel Robles combined to pitch five shutout innings allowing only three hits and one walk with striking out eight. 

However, they wouldn’t get a sixth shutout inning.  Byron Buxton would hit a long home run off Robles to give the Twins a 2-1 lead in the 11th. It wasn’t a bad pitch, and it shows why people think Buxton is going to be a great player. None if that matters. 

What matters is Granderson led off the bottom of the 11th with an opposite field home run to tie the game at two. 

After Granderson’s homer, and the obligatory Bruce out, the Mets, sorry, Las Vegas 51s, continued the rally.  T.J. and Brandon Nimmo hit back-to-back singles.  Kevin Plawecki almost ended the game. However, instead of his liner going into center, it hit the pitcher leading to the fielder’s choice. It put the game in Matt Reynolds hands. After fouling a ball off his foot, Reynolds was hit by a pitch to load the bases. 

Reyes worked out a nine pitch at bat, but he would strike out looking ending the inning and sending the game into the 12th. 

Granderson once again hit the huge extra inning home run.

This one was a game winner – off a lefty to boot. It was the first time in Mets history a Mets player hit a game tying and game winning home run in extra innings. 

With that, the Mets won a tough game and will make up ground on someone tonight. 

Game Notes: Granderson’s homers wrre the Mets’ 200th & 201st of the season, which is the new Mets single season record. 

Seth Lugo is Better than Philip Humber

Back in 2007, the Mets collapsed in part due to a rash of pitcher injuries.   Pedro Martinez missed most of the year following offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum.  An injured Orlando Hernandez (El Duque) had to be moved out of the rotation and into the bullpen.  With they myriad of injuries, Mike Pelfrey was put in the rotation before he was truly ready.  Brian Lawrence made a few poor starts.  With the walls crashing in on the Mets and the Phillies gaining on them, the Mets had to turn to Philip Humber.

Humber was the third overall pick in the 2004 draft.  In his career, he never lived up to that billing.  It could have been that he was damaged goods coming from Rice University, who is well known for abusing pitcher arms. He did have ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery before his major league debut.  It could be that he was rushed through the system never being given proper time to develop.  It could any single factor or any combination thereof.  It could just be that he just wasn’t good enough to be a top line starting pitcher.

He certainly wasn’t on September 27, 2007.  His final line was four innings, six hits, five runs, five earned, two walks, no strikeouts, and one home run allowed.  Humber did his best to battle that night, but he either wasn’t ready or wasn’t capable of winning a big game like that.  The only reason he didn’t take the loss was the Mets staked him to a 4-0 and a 6-2 lead.  It would be his last game as a Met as he would be part of the Johan Santana trade.  It was also the last day the Mets would have sole possession of first place as the loss would drop them to only one up in the division.

Like in 2007, the starting pitching is dropping like flies.  Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and even Jon Niese have found themselves on the disabled list.  Logan Verrett has served as this year’s Lawrence.  Robert Gsellman serves as this year’s Pelfrey.  However, Lugo isn’t quite this year’s Humber.  They really have nothing in common.

Whereas Humber was a high draft pick, Lugo was a 34th round draft pick.  While Humber was pushed through the minors without mastering a level, Lugo has performed at each and every level having to prove himself over and over again.  During his career, Humber had trouble developing a real outpitch.  Conversely, Lugo has a terrific curveball that has already fooled Anthony Rizzo, who is a terrific major league hitter.  More importantly, the main difference between Humber and Lugo is Lugo has already had success as a pitcher for the Mets.

In nine appearances as a reliever, Lugo pitched 17.0 innings and had a 2.65 ERA.  When injuries forced him to make an unexpected start, Lugo was better than anyone could have imagined.  He was not only good, but he was efficient.  When Lugo walked off the mound, he had pitched 6.2 innings allowing seven hits, one run, one earned, and one walk with three strikeouts.  At a minimum, Lugo has shown everyone he has the capability of being a good and reliable major league pitcher.

During this season, this Mets team has been compared to past Mets teams that have failed.  Namely, they have been compared to the 1987, 2001, and 2007 teams.  You can go up and down the line and compare different aspects of those teams to this current team.  However, those comparisons need to stop with Lugo as everyone should have faith when Lugo steps on the mound.

Checking-in on the Players the Mets Traded

Over the past year, the Mets have made a number of trades to not only help them go to the World Series last year, but also to help them become World Series contenders again this year.  With Neil Walker returning to Pittsburgh to not one but two standing ovations, and the draft scheduled for later today  it seems like today is a good day to take a cursory view of how the players the Mets traded away are faring.

Kelly Johnson & Juan Uribe for Robert Whalen & John Gant

Robert Whalen – Whalen has made 11 starts for the Atlanta Braves AA affiliate going 4-4 with a 2.88 ERA and a 1.247 WHIP.  At the time of the trade, Whalen was seen as a back of the rotation starter, and his performance this year should not change those impressions.

John Gant – Despite never having pitched above AAA before this season, Gant got a cup of coffee early on with the Braves showing off his very unorthodox delivery.  He predictably struggled pitching to a 6.17 ERA and a 1.714 WHIP in seven appearances.  Gant was sent back down to AAA where he has pitched better.  In eight appearances, he has a 3.14 ERA and a 1.233 WHIP.  He appears on track for another promotion before the year is over, especially with the way the Braves want to sell everything.

Tyler Clippard for Casey Meisner

Casey Meisner – The 20 year old Meisner pitched well for Oakland’s Advance A affiliate pitching going 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA and a 1.052 WHIP in seven starts.  This year, for the first time in his brief career, Meisner is struggling going 0-9 with a 4.55 ERA and a 1.645 WHIP in 11 starts.  At 21, Meisner is still young for his league, and he is still walking too many batters.  If Meiser can make the ncecessary adjustments, he can get back on track to being the mid to top of the rotation starter he was projected to be.

Yoenis Cespedes for Michael Fulmer & Luis Cessa

Michael Fulmer – Fulmer only received three AAA starts before the Tigers felt compelled to bring him up to help fix a beleaguered rotation that included former Met Mike Pelfrey.  Fulmer has shown himself to be every bit the ace people anticipated he might be one day.  He has gone 6-1 with a 2.83 ERA and a 1.175 WHIP.  In his last four starts, he is 4-0 with a 0.32 ERA and a 0.635 WHIP.

Luis Cessa – Cessa was actually traded to the Yankees in the offseason, and he made his major league debut with them.  In his three appearances, he had a 2.57 ERA and a 0.857 WHIP.  In the minors, he has been in the rotation with less success.  In his five starts (with one relief appearance), he is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.214 WHIP.  Ultimately, Cessa has the stuff to be either a back end of the rotation pitcher or a middle reliever.  His brief cup of coffee with the Yankees has shown he does have the ability to pitch in the majors.

Eric O’Flaherty for Dawrin Frias

Dawrin Frias – After the conclusion of the 2015 season, Frias become a minor league free agent.  To date, no one has signed him.

Addison Reed for Miller Diaz & Matt Koch

Miller Diaz – Diaz is struggling mightily for the Arizona Diamondback’s high A affiliate going 0-1 with a 7.76 ERA and 2.414 WHIP in 15 games (inlcuding three starts).  Diaz was seen as nothing more than a major league reliever, at best, and these statistics make that proposition a stretch.

Matt Koch – Koch is having another strong year in AA.  In his five starts, he is 0-2 with a 2.66 ERA and a 1.310 WHIP.  While Koch was seen as a bullpen piece, if he keeps improving the way he has, he may have a shot to stick with the back end of someone’s rotation.

Neil Walker for Jon Niese

Jon Niese – Niese’s early season struggles have seemed to go by the wayside.  While he started the year 3-1 with a 5.94 ERA and a 1.680 WHIP, he has settled down and pitched much better of late.  We just saw him pitch seven innings in beating the Mets. In his last six starts, he is 3-1 with a 2.15 ERA and a 1.141 WHIP.

For the most part, the players the Mets traded are playing well. It shows the Mets gave up valuable pieces for the quality players they received. The hope is the Mets have enough trade assets this year to swing a deal or two like they did last year.

Carlos Beltran Still the Best of the 2006 Mets

Initially during the rain out, I was watching Amazin’ Finishes featuring either the 2007 or 2008 season. In other words, two years that decidedly didn’t have amazing finishes. I decided to turn it off. 

Then something struck me. It’s been 10 years since 2006. Looking back at that roster, only five of the 49 players who appeared in a game for that team are still in the majors. Seeing how most of those players have retired and the changes roles of the other five, it’s really shows you how much things have changed. 

David Wright – he was the young star then, but now with the spinal stenosis and herniated disc in his neck, you wonder how much longer he has. 
Jose Reyes – back then he was charmingly seen as Wright’s partner in crime. There’s no charm in that anymore with the allegations against him that never went to trial. His future is uncertain now that rookie Trevor Story has claimed the shortstop position for the Rockies. 
 Oliver Perez – there was a time during Game 7, that you thought you would he would’ve been forever loved. Problem is he stayed too long. He eventually became an effective relief pitcher, and now, he’s helping the Nationals try to get to the World Series. 
Mike Pelfrey – Pelfrey was the rookie pressed into action due to a number of injuries. He struggled as he wasn’t ready, and he was sent back to the minors. Now, he’s a 32 year old veteran starter for the Tigers who is struggling. 
Carlos Beltran – he was the best player on the planet in 2006. He is on his way to the Hall of Fame. He’s also still a very productive player:

It is amazing to look back and see how much has changed. It’s even more amazing to see that Beltran is still the best of this group. He was a special player, and Mets fans were lucky to see him play everyday for seven years. 

Tipping the Limo Driver for Score Updates

Six years ago to the day, I woke up with a bundle of nerves. The Mets were under .500, and they were sending Jon Niese to the mound against the Braves. Niese has never instilled any Mets fan with confidence.  

Initially, I had high hopes for this team.  After 2009, they were more comfortable in Citi Field and knew how to play there. Jose Reyes and David Wright were in their prime. Carlos Beltran had a full offseason to rest up, get healthy, and return to his dominant form.  I thought Ike Davis would get a call-up and be a legitimate middle of the order power threat. I thought Jason Bay would succeed with the Mets after playing so well for the Red Sox. The team had an ace in Johan Santana and an emerging pitcher in Mike Pelfrey. K-Rod was the closer, and promising young rookie Jenrry Mejia was going to be his set-up man.  There was a lot to like. 

Those feelings of optimism faded away early in the season. They lost seven of their first 10 games. Jerry Manuel was the manager, and he was managing like it. The team was barely able to score runs against the Cardinals’ position players in a 20 inning game. The Mets were under .500. Worse yet, they had to face Larry Jones – err, Chipper – and the Braves. The Mets countered with the enigmatic Niese against a player and team that killed the Mets. It’s enough to make any Mets’ fans stomach turn. 

By the way, it was also my wedding day. 

Yes, my wedding day. That one I knew I got right. I was marrying the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met (still is), and she had no clue she was way too good for me (still is). Honestly, I was not nervous at all about marrying her. I was only nervous about the logistics of the day. I was nervous about missing the Mets game. Priorities. 

I made sure I was ready well in advance so I could watch the game from first pitch. I caught the first couple of innings at home before getting in the limousine and heading to the Church. As we got to the Church, it was still 0-0. Now, as a superstitious sort, I knew I couldn’t hang around in the limo listening to the game because I couldn’t risk seeing my then fiancée in her dress before she entered the Church. Accordingly, I tipped the driver a couple of bucks to funnel me score updates until the game was over. 

Last thing I knew as a single man, the Mets were losing 1-0 to the Braves. Sounds about right. After seeing my wife head up the aisle, I forgot all about the Mets. I was excited to marry the best person I’ve ever known. 

Once the mass was over, we had the proceeding line. All my wife could do was laugh when the limo driver came over to give me the score. The Mets won 3-1. She knew what she was getting into marrying me. I put the Mets out of mind, did our wedding photos, and then had the greatest wedding reception ever. 

By the way, my wife nixed the idea of having Mr. Met serve as the maitre d’. It wasn’t my idea (although I fully supported it). Some of the ushers started a collection, but it quickly died down when my wife caught wind of it. Speaking of the ushers, I did win the pool because I didn’t cry during the mass. First round of drinks in Hawaii were on them. 

After my wife and I got married, the Mets went on a winning streak and took over first place. I had no idea because I was on my honeymoon (although we did fly Jet Blue so I could watch the Mets and Braves play the Sunday Night Game).  

During my honeymoon, I paid no attention to the Mets. Spending time with her then (as it is now) will always be more important. I just enjoyed each and every moment of being married to my beautiful wife. I still do. Marrying my wife was the best decision I ever made. 

Happy Anniversary honey. 

Wright’s Most Important Season as Captain

Today, the Mets officially report to Spring Training.  With the 2016 season unofficially starting, David Wright begins his most important year as Captain of the New York Mets. 

Back in 2007, Wright was a 24 year old superstar. His team was coming off a shocking loss in the NLCS, and yet going into 2007, many believed the Mets were the best team in the National League, if not all of baseball.  With Wright and Jose Reyes, the Mets were seen not only as a win-now team, but also as a team that was built for the long haul. It worked out that way for exactly 145 games. 

Not that Tom Glavine finds it devastating or anything, but the Mets collapsed over the final 17 games. There are a number of things we can point to as the reason the Mets collapses. Over those final 17 games, Brian Lawrence, a 23 year old Mike Pelfrey, and Philip Humber received starts with the Mets going 1-3 in those games. You can point to players like Reyes not hitting down the stretch. Speaking of Reyes, many point to him dancing in Game 161 as the reason. 

After the Mets were swept by the Phillies, they had 14 games remaining against sub .500 teams.  These teams had a combined .457 winning percentage. This includes a Cardinals team that had to come to New York to play a make-up game. They shut the Mets out. After the Phillies swept the Mets, there was every reason to believe the Mets would win the division, or at the absolute worst, the Wild Card. They did neither. There really is no excuse for what happened. 

We saw it again in 2008. The Mets had a lead in the division up until the 149th game of the season. The Mets then lost the division lead. Again, the Mets season was on the line on the final game of the season.  Again, they lost at home to a bad Marlins team. 

Sure you can point to a myriad of things in 2008. Billy Wagner was injured leading to a revolving door at closer. Again, it’s excuses. The Mets had a different manager and pitching coach at the end of the season. Willie Randolph and Rick Peterson were the fall guys for 2007 in getting fired one game into a West Coast trip. 

At the end of the day, it wasn’t the manager or the coaches. It was the team. There just was something missing. One player that wasn’t a problem?  David Wright. 

In 2007, Wright hit .352/.432/.602 with six homers and 20 RBI over the final month of the season. In 2008, Wright hit .340/.416/.577 with six homers and 21 RBI in the final month of the season. While Shea was burning, Wright was playing his best baseball. While there was a problem with those 2007-2008 teams, Wright wasn’t one of them. 

Now, Wright is the only player that remains from those teams. 

Wright is now 33 years old. He’s a leader on the team. He’s the Captain. Once again, he’s on a Mets team that has a chance to return to the postseason. He’s once again playing for a team that is a legitimate World Series contender. 

This may be Wright’s most important season as the Captain. He can share with the team all the things that went wrong in 2007 and 2008 to help prevent any of these issues arising with this Mets team. If problems do arise, he can help guide the team. He can share with them whatever it was within him in 2007 and 2008 to play his best when the team seemed to be at their worst. 

In 1986, the Mets had a de facto team captain in Keith Hernandez that showed the team how to win. Thirty years later, the Mets have a Captain that can show the team how not to lose. 

Hopefully, with another Mets captain leading the way, the Mets will once again win the World Series.