Tom Seaver

The Mets Will Retire Piazza’s Number

Seeing how there were weird and unnecessary discussion regarding the hat which Mike Piazza will select for his Hall of Fame plaque, let’s just end the next discussion before it starts. The Mets will retire Piazza’s # 31. 

The Mets had him close out Shea with Tom Seaver. He opened Citi Field again with Seaver recreating the moment at Shea Stadium. He was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame. He threw out the first pitch in the first World Series game at Citi Field. He’s obviously respected by the entire Mets organization. Once Piazza is elected to the Hall of Fame, he should get his number retired by the Mets. It’s the next step in a logical process. 

I don’t understand why anyone would question if Piazza’s number will be retired after he’s elected to the Hall of Fame. You can ask why it wasn’t retired sooner, but to question if it’ll be retired at all makes no sense. If you want to have a debate at all, question how that number will appear on that wall. 

Will they go with the black uniforms most synonymous with those Mets teams?  Will they go with the non-pinstriped jersey?  If they go with the pinstriped jersey to keep it homogenous, will they include the drop shadow on the jersey number?  This is the real question; not whether or not Piazza’s number will be retired. 

Piazza’s number will be retired. 

The Franchise May Fall

Honestly, I don’t know of a more underrated and under appreciated great player than Tom Seaver. He was bafflingly omitted from the All Century Team.  In his stead were players like Nolan Ryan. Another inane fan vote named Sandy Koufax over Seaver as part of the Franchise Four Living Legends

Seaver doesn’t get the respect he’s due. He could very well be the best right handed pitcher of all time. He’s inarguably a top five pitcher, especially when you omit those who have cheated. Yet, Seaver can’t get a statue in front of Citi Field. He isn’t mentioned among the best of the best. The fans don’t see it. This tells me he’s been largely forgotten. I say largely because he does get mentioned every time this year as he is still the player who was elected to the Hall of Fame with the highest percentage

In 1992, Seaver received 98.84% of the vote. It means each year, he’s necessarily mentioned as the player elected with the highest percentage of the vote. Every year, Mets fans can puff their chests out in pride. Now, it seems like that is all in jeopardy:

Ken Griffey, Jr. has received 100% of the vote from those writers who have published their ballots thus far. He’s a legitimate threat to be the first unanimously elected player in the Hall of Fame. In many ways, it’s a sign of progress. I’m selfish. I hope he doesn’t get it. I hope six writers find absurd reasons to omit Griffey’s name from the ballot. 

The reason is simple. I’m a Mets fan that believes Seaver never got his due. I believe the fan votes establish that. A Mets ownership that refuses to properly honor him with a statue establishes that. The only real thing that keeps Seaver in the baseball public consciousness is his Hall of Fame tally. 

Honestly, I care more about this than Mike Piazza getting elected this year. He will get in eventually. He will always be remembered as the greatest hitting catcher and the post 9/11 home run. As a Mets fan, I’m not worried about Piazza’s legacy. 

I am about Seaver, the greatest Met there ever was. Perhaps, the greatest Met that ever will be. The man who is one of the five greatest pitchers ever. He’s never gotten his due, except when it came to Hall of Fame voting. It’s the only time we hear about him. I shouldn’t have to hope voters do the wrong thing, but I do. 

For the sake of Seaver’s legacy, I hope six voters do the wrong thing and don’t vote for Griffey. 

My IBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot

Before looking at my ballot, please keep in mind that the IBWAA already elected players on the current ballot. This includes Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell I would’ve voted for them because I don’t play the steroids guessing game

I also would’ve voted for Tim Raines, but he already received the necessary 75% from the IBWAA. Raines was the second best lead off hitter of all time, and frankly I haven’t seen a good reason to withhold your vote for him. Furthermore, even if the vote doesn’t count towards the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot, I didn’t want to incur the wrath of Jonah Keri

As a reminder, here are the criteria I use in Hall of Fame voting. As such, I did not vote for Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens. With that said, here are the players on my ballot:

Ken Griffey, Jr.

Junior might’ve been the best player in my lifetime, at least when he was launching home runs in the old Kingdome. When you look at his WAR, he’s only behind Willie MaysTy CobbTris Speaker, and Mickey Mantle. If you’re the fifth best ever at a position, you deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. 

Alan Trammell

The average Hall of Fame SS has a career WAR of 66.7, a peak WAR (also known as WAR7) of 42.8, and a JAWS score of 54.7. Trammell’s numbers are 70.4/44.6/57.5. Translation, he’s one of the top SS in major league history. Keep in mind, he is a .285/.352/.415 career hitter with four Gold Gloves, six All Star Game appearances, and three Silver Sluggers. 
On top of that, he hit .333/.404/.588 in the postseason. He was also the 1984 World Series MVP. It’s his last year on the ballot. He deserves to be elected. 

Larry Walker

The narrative on Walker is he’s a Coors Field creation. I get it because he hit an amazing .381/.462/.710 at Coors Field. Those are insane numbers. 

Look at it this way. Walker has hit .278/.370/.495 on the road in his career. In his six years with the Expos at the beginning of his career, he hit .281/.357/.483. Reggie Jackson, who was one of the top RF all time, hit .262/.356/.490. On top of this, Walker was a five time All Star with seven Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers. He was the 1997 NL MVP. If you’re comparable to Reggie Jackson, you’re a Hall of Famer. 

Jeff Kent

If you look over Kent’s career, his WAR, WAR7, or JAWS doesn’t match-up. The average for second baseman is 69.3/44.4/56.9. Kent was only 55.2/35.6/45.4. He fell short on those terms, but I voted for him anyway. 

The issue is Kent was not a good defensive player, but he was a terrific hitter. Amongst second baseman, he’s hit the most homeruns, fourth most doubles, third highest RBI, and the second highest slugging percentage. Overall, he was a .290/.356/.500 hitter with 377 homeruns. He was the second best offensive second baseman to Rogers Hornsby. To me, being the second best offensively at his position was barely sufficient for me to vote for him. 

Curt Schilling

Look, I think postseason excellence should be considered in Hall of Fame voting. Schilling was 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA, a 0.968 WHIP, and a World Series MVP. Bloody sock or not, that is as impressive as it gets. 

With that said, I didn’t vote for Schilling due to his postseason success. I voted for him due to his regular season success. Schilling was 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA. 1.137 WHIP, a 8.6 K/9, and a 4.38 K/BB ratio. His K/BB is second best all time. His stats are good enough for a 127 ERA+, which is the same as Tom Seaver. His WAR is 79.9, which is higher than the average WAR for a Hall of Fame pitcher

Postseason success or not, Curt Schilling is a Hall of Famer. 

Mike Mussina

Speaking of career WAR, Mussina’s career WAR of 83.0 is actually higher than Schilling’s. 

Mussina was 270-153 with a 3.68 ERA and a 1.192 WHIP. Those are remarkable numbers considering he pitched his entire career in the AL East during the steroid era. It’s unsurprising he would have an ERA+ of 123. That’s better than Juan Marichal and Nolan Ryan. Mussina bomgs in the Hall of Fame. 

Other Notables

Edgar Martinez

I didn’t vote for Edgar, who is a career .312/.418/.515 hitter. My vote for him only partially had to do with him being a DH. 

I do believe there is room for a DH to be in the Hall of Fame. No matter how they are characterized, there are two right now: Frank Thomas and Paul Molitor. As these are the only two DH’s in the Hall of Fame, I’m judging Edgar against the two of them. 

Edgar had a 147 OPS+, 147 wRC+, .415 wOBA, and a 68.3 WAR. 

Thomas had a 156 OPS+, 154 wRC+, .416 wOBA, and a 73.7 WAR. 

Molitor had a 122 OPS+, 122 wRC+, .361 wOBA, and a 75.4 WAR. 
Now, Thomas and Molitor had the magic numbers. Thomas hit over 500 homeruns. Molitor had over 3,000 hits. Now, this isn’t dispositive, but it counts for something. Molitor also has postseason success hitting .368/.415/.615. He won the 1993 World Series MVP. 

I bring this up because Edgar was a better hitter. Every stat but WAR is in Edgar’s favor. Edgar averaged a 3.79 WAR per year to Molitor’s 3.59 per year, so in that respect Edgar is again better. However, by no measure is Edgar better than Thomas. Thomas is better than Edgar in every stat. 

Now, normally, I would say Edgar falls in line between Thomas and Molitor, so let him in. However, we’ve only had the DH since 1973. That’s only 42 years, or 27 years (10 year career with five year waiting period) of DH’s even being eligible for the Hall of Fame. With that in mind, I look at Thomas, and not the mean, as the standard. 

No, I don’t think it’ll be a travesty if Edgar is elected to the Hall of Fame. Over time as I see better arguments for his inclusion, I may change my mind. However, at this time I think Edgar falls just short for me. 

In response to an anticipated counter-argument, no, I don’t think it’s hypocritical that I voted for Kent due to his bat. While I do think defense should count, I have Kent credit for being the second best offensive second baseman ever. As a DH, all Edgar does is hit. Using the same standards, he would have to be the second best hitter ever. He’s clearly not that.

So for right now, I left Edgar off my ballot.  

Billy Wagner
I’ll readily admit I’m a fan of Billy Wagner. I respect him. He was awesome. You should read up on him to learn about his perseverance. I really wanted to vote for him, but I didn’t. 

Sure, there are amazing stats in his favor. Wagner has the most ever saves for a left handed pitcher. He has a career 2.31 ERA, 0.998 WHIP, and a 11.9 K/9. They are impressive numbers. What’s not impressive is his 28.1 career WAR. That’s lower than Tom Gordon, who is off the ballot, and Lee Smith, who last year received 29.9% in the voting last year. 

Overall, I wanted to vote for Wagner on a personal level. However, when the people who are better than you aren’t in the Hall, you shouldn’t be either. 

Trevor Hoffman
This was an easy name to leave off the ballot. Looking over the career stats, the only thing Hoffman has over Wagner is his saves total. 

Like Wagner, Hoffman’s WAR falls short. Hoffman’s WAR was 28.4. Essentially, you’d be voting for him because he had the highest save total ever when he retired. If that wasn’t good enough for Lee Smith, it shouldn’t be enough for Trevor Hoffman. 

Synopsis

Overall, even if this doesn’t count towards the BBWAA vote, I took this seriously, and I tried to justify my votes. Admittedly, Kent was my weakest vote. I still think someone could change my mind on Edgar. I don’t see myself voting for a reliever until Mariano Rivera hits the ballot. 

Mets Fans: Seaver is Much Better than Wright

In case you missed it, the Mets are having a Bobblehead giveaway. You just need to re-tweet the Tweet and vote for the player you want:

David Wright is crushing Tom Seaver with 65% of the vote. Seriously?  I know it’s a popularity contest, but there is no way you should want a bobblehead of Wright over Seaver. Seaver is the greatest Met ever. He just might be the greatest right hand pitcher of all time. There should not be any Met more popular than him. 
Frankly, the result of this poll is embarrassing to Mets fans. It shows we can’t respect what little history we have. It’s a shame. 

Moving from Anger to Hope, Not Bargaining

We’ve all heard of the five stages of grief: (1) Denial; (2) Anger; (3) Bargaining; (4) Depression; and (5) Acceptance. Last night, after Daniel Murphy‘s error, I was in denial. I thought they would come back and win the game. Judging from my posts today, I’m at anger. Justifiable anger, but anger nevertheless. 

Guess what?  I’ve moved on from anger. I’ve processed everything. I looked at how it’s all happened. There are some things I’ve come to realize:

  1. This is a resilient baseball team that has answered every call when their backs were against the wall;
  2. The Mets have had a lead in every game; and
  3. The Mets still have the three best starting pitchers in this series. 

It gives me hope.  I’m not in the five stages of grief. There’s nothing to grieve. The Mets can still win this World Series starting with Matt Harvey tonight. 

Think about it. When has it ever been easy for the Mets?  Even in their easiest title run, 1969, they had to deal with Tom Seaver losing Game 1. The Mets got a brilliantly pitched game from Jerry Koosman in Game 2, but they had to deal with a blown 1-0 lead and were facing going down 2-0 to the heavily favored Orioles. The Mets pulled it out and the series.

In 1986, the Mets clearly had their best best ever. They won 108 games. Seriously, they do not get discussed enough as one of the best teams ever. Despite being a historically great team, they were on the verge of losing the World Series until an impossible rally. They trailed 3-0 in Game 7 until a sixth inning rally. 

Now, they are down 3-1 in the series. They can still win, but it won’t be easy. However, there is still hope, and where there is hope, there’s a chance. I have hope they can do it. I mean c’mon we’re a Mets fans. We have no choice.

Ya Gotta Believe!

Goal: Split in KC

Just like the NLDS, all the Mets have to do is split on the road. After the first two games, the Mets will have Noah Syndergaard for Game 3 in Citi Field. 

This is a tremendous advantage for the Mets. Thor is 7-2 with a 2.43 ERA, 0.821 WHIP, and a 9.2 K/9 at home. In the playoffs, he’s 1-1 with a one hold, a 2.77 ERA, 1.077 WHIP, and a 13.8 K/9. In his one postseason start at home, in three days rest, he pitched 5.2 innings allowing 3 hits, 1 earned, 1 walk, and 9 K. I don’t care if the Royals feel Yordano Ventura is their ace. Thor is better. 

Ventura in four starts this postseason is 0-1 this postseason with a 5.09 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP. How am I to believe he will shut down a Mets team that is raking this postseason. Then after this, you can call Game Four a coin flip between Steven Matz and old friend Chris Young. After this, the rotations flip, and the Mets continue their strong starting pitching advantage

Overall, the more I think about it, this is like 1969. The Mets weren’t supposed to be there. They were underdogs. They started the franchise, Tom Seaver, in Game One. He was the Cy Young Award winner. The Mets superstar and best chance of winning. The Mets lost Game One, and it seemed the sweep was on. 

  
The Mets had a strong young pitching staff that went beyond just Seaver. Jerry Koosman flipped the script with a dominant Game Two performance. The Mets then took care of the Orioles in five. 

The moral of the story is the Mets just need to split in Kansas City, and they are in great shape to win this World Series. I think they will win

LETS GO METS!

deGrominant Start to the NLDS

Mets fans have been waiting nine years for this game. They were treated to a special, record setting game:

Everyone expected a pitcher’s duel, and both teams delivered. Clayton Kershaw pitched 6.2 innings allowing four hits, three earned (two were inherited runners scored), four walks, and 11 strikeouts. Jacob deGrom was better. He threw 121 pitches over seven innings. He allowed five hits, one intentional walk, and 13 strikeouts. He was Tom Seaver-esque:

This was the type of game if you have no rooting interest, you enjoy every minute of it. When you’re a Mets fan, you live and die with every pitch. It’s tense. It’s trying. It’s worth it.  I actually checked with my Dad to see if his defribulator was working. I took it that since he replied it was. 

Personally, I don’t think I was breathing until the seventh inning. deGrom and Kershaw, though dominant, were seemingly in trouble every inning. Michael Cuddyer, and his extra shoddy defense, made sure of that. 

Up until the seventh inning, the only run was from a fourth inning Daniel Murphy home run. It was a special moment. Murphy was first around for the second collapse in 2008. He’s the second longest tenured position player. He fought to be an everyday player. With one swing of the bat, he showed everyone he deserved this chance. 

Ironically, on a night the Mets sat Michael Conforto because of Kershaw, only the Mets lefties got hits off of Kershaw. However, the Mets batters did their job in the seventh. Lucas Duda walked. Ruben Tejada fought back from an 0-2 count to walk. After a deGrom sacrifice, Curtis Granderson battled to walk. The bases were loaded with two outs, and Mattingly panicked. 

He lifted Kershaw and brought in Pedro Baez. He looked nervous. He got David Wright to a full count, and Wright delivered with a two RBI single. I screamed and woke up the house. It was worth it. My celebration was something like this:

I breathed a little easier when Juan Lagares came in for Cuddyer shifting Yoenis Cespedes to left. Of course, Tyler Clippard allowed a run in the eighth giving me angina again. Terry Collins didn’t let it get out of control. He brought in Jeurys Familia, who got ended the rally, and earned the four out save preserving the Mets 3-1 victory. 

Overall, this night wasn’t about Murphy, or Wright, or the fans who waited nine years for this moment. This was about deGrom. He has answered every call in his career.  He was Rookie of the Year. He was an All Star. He earned this start, and he more than delivered. He was better than the Franchise. 

The Mets are up 1-0 in the series. Later tonight, we’re expecting another pitcher’s duel, and the Mets are sending out the hottest pitcher in baseball. I like the Mets chances. Lets Go Mets!

Dwight Gooden Career Advice

The 1980’s tremendous run was partly fueled by Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. They had their share of drug problems. They were self destructive. They were labeled the “Dead End Kids.”  

It seems after years, most likely decades, of problems, they’re finally clean. They have seemingly turned their lives around. They now have important things to say and have important things to do. It’s a remarkable turn-around. I want to hear them talk as much as possible about the dangers of drug use. It’s an important message. Hopefully, they’ll prevent someone from repeating their mistakes. Maybe they’ll help a troubled person through a tough time. 

What I don’t want to hear is them lecture other players on how they should be more like they were. Sure enough, Gooden weighed in on the whole Matt Harvey controversy:

This hypocrisy demands a look into Doc’s career, a look I would rather not make. However, when he tells everyone to look at what he did when he was playing, we should. 

Let’s start with the innings. Doc was abused by Davey Johnson and Mel Stottlemeyer. Doc was amazing. He was doing things not even Tom Seaver did. In his age 19, 20, and 21 seasons, he threw 218.0, 276.2, and 250.0 innings. His last All Star Game was in 1988, when he was 23 years old. On September 8, 1991, when he was 26 years old,  he received season ending rotator cuff surgery. For a man who set strikeout records, he would never again reach 150 strikeouts. In the last eight years of his career, his average season was 7-7 with a 4.45 ERA and 94 strikeouts. 

Effectively speaking, he was done when he was 26 years old. If anyone should be preaching caution against overuse, it’s Gooden. His Hall of Fame talent and possible career went the wayside due to abuse and overuse, at least partial so. 

That wasn’t the only abuse that ruined Gooden’s career. Gooden was a drug addict. Gooden became hooked on cocaine during the 1986 season. He missed the championship parade because he was high in the projects. In 1987, he was suspended for one month due to failed drug tests. He was forced into rehab by then Commissioner Peter Ueberroth. Gooden missed the Opening Day after a World Series title. He would return on June 5, 1987. It was 31 games into the season, the equivalent of six starts. The Mets missed the playoffs by three games that year. Gooden would be suspended for the 1995 season for failing a “bunch of [drug] tests.”  

So no, I don’t want Gooden to point to his career as an example of what to do. When he talks about Harvey being shut down for health reasons, he neglects how injuries damaged his career. When he talks about how Harvey should demand that he go out there for his teammates, he neglects to mention all the times he wasn’t. 

I don’t like bashing Gooden. However, I also don’t like the Harvey bashing. Harvey has a hard decision and a career to contemplate. It’s easy for everyone to tell Harvey what to do. It’s not their career or future. It was easy for Gooden to do the same. He just forgot how injuries ruined his career as well as the times he wasn’t there for his teammates. 

Harvey has a big start tomorrow, and he will pitch in the playoffs. I wish the best for him. More importantly, I wish the best for Gooden. They both need our support this year and beyond. 

This Feels Wright

In my family, there are a number of huge Mets fans. One of them is my Uncle Pat. The two things I always remembered him saying about the Mets were:

  1. How beautiful the Tom Seaver Number Retirement Ceremony was; and
  2. How classy it was that the Mets brought back Lee Mazzilli in 1986. 

I’m too young to remember the Lee Mazzilli heyday. However, I’m not too young that I don’t remember Ron Darling‘s playing days. The reason why I bring this up is because Mazzilli was traded to obtain Darling, who was a key part of the 1986 Mets. 

From what I hear, fans took trading Mazzilli hard. Not only was he a homegrown Met, but he was also a local kid. It’s part of the reason Mets fans have extra love for players like Ed Kranepool. It’s why we were even more excited when Steven Matz got called-up. 

Now, David Wright isn’t a local kid, but he did grow up a Mets fan. He is a homegrown Met. At times, he’s played like a superstar. In 2006. 2007, and 2008, we all thought he would bring us a World Series. It didn’t happen. The Mets then didn’t resign Jose Reyes and stopped spending money. Then the lean years came. 

This year was the first year in a while there was legitimate hope. The Mets had a healthy Matt HarveyJacob deGrom was coming off of a Rookie of the Year season. Offensively, as usual, it all seemed to hinge on Wright and his return from a shoulder injury. It lasted all of eight games before he went down. By necessity, Wright went into the rear view mirror. 

The Mets made their trades and the team took off. Wright wasn’t a part of the Mets Renaissance. We began to hear some nonsense about how Wright might upset the team chemistry. On Monday, Wright showed that notion was just noise. He’s still the leader. He’s still their best player. He’s still the fan favorite. 

That’s the thing. For a whole generation of Mets fans, he’s their Tom Seaver. He’s the guy with the Hall of Fame talent you hope can lead you to the World Series. He’s also their Lee Mazzilli. He’s the lifetime Mets fan who was the best player on a bad team. It wasn’t until he was gone that the team became a contender. 

However, unlike Mazzilli, Wright is back with something in the tank. Wright may not be able to play everyday right now, but he’s still their best option at 3B. I really hope the Mets make a long October run, and I hope Wright gets to be a large part of that like he was on Monday night. 

As we know when David was gone, it was fun because the team was winning, but it didn’t feel 100% “Wright” because he wasn’t there. He’s back, and it feels “Wright” again. Lets Go Mets!

Did the Wheels Really Fall Off?

Over the course of their history, the Mets have made some really bad trades that were indefensible at the time they were made. While this isn’t a complete list, here are some of my “favorites”:

  1. The Midnight Massacre
  2. Lenny Dykstra, Roger McDowell, and Tom Edens for Juan Samuel, and 
  3. Scott Kazmir and Jose Diaz for Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato. 

Again, this is not a comprehensive list. Also, these were traded roundly criticized at the time, not ones that eventually turned out badly. 
It’s funny. Late last night into early this morning many people were joking about how people who went to bed early last night would react when they discovered the trade unraveled. It immediately made me think of the aforementioned Midnight Massacre. 

I thought about how people felt when they read the newspaper the next morning. We all know everyone hated the trade and vilified the Mets to the point that Shea was once known as Grant’s Tomb. The trade worked out as bad as everyone thought it would. I began to wonder if the Carlos Gomez trade would’ve joined the list of worst Mets’ trades ever. 

As I noted last night, Carlos Gomez was having a down year. Admittedly, I was unaware there were possible injury concerns. Reportedly, the Mets nixed the deal over Gomez’s hip issues. Gomez was reported that have said he’s stopped running due to his hip issues. 

The arguments started over whether there was a hip issue or not. Many pointed out that he was playing everyday.  Despite these opinions, the Mets believed Gomez had a degenerative hip issue. For what it’s worth, Gomez had trouble staying healthy this year. Regardless, the Mets seemed disappointed because they really wanted Gomez. 

Mets fans wanted him too. Would they have been as enthusiastic if Gomez landed on the DL with a hip issue?  Would they have booed him if he was ineffective due to his degenerative hip?  Would they be screaming same old Mets?  Yes to all the above, and part of the reason is they would’ve given up Zack Wheeler to get him. 

I’ve detailed before how the Mets could afford to part with Wheeler for a non-rental player.  However, it is dumb to trade him for a player that’s an injury risk even if he never gets injured and/or he would be a huge upgrade. 

As I’ve noted, Wheeler has been a league average pitcher with the Mets with a lot of potential. However, he seemed to turn a corner in the second half last year. He went 6-3 with a 3.04 ERA. He averaged 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings. He dropped his WHIP from 1.357 to 1.286. 

He was making real progress in his first full professional season. He’s under team control until 2020. This is a valuable asset and trade chip. You don’t give that up for a hope and a prayer especially when the Mets don’t have the best history dealing with injuries

While Sandy Alderson and the Mets may invite criticism from time to time, this should not be one of those instances. Initially, he made a good trade to improve the team. He made a better decision walking away from the deal.