Wilmer Flores

Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the New York Mets, the second baseman, WILMER FLORES!

Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the New York Mets, the second baseman WILMER FLORES!

Outta Hand

Now, we’ve seen these Mets for the past 50 plus seasons. They face a spot starter, emergency starter, or rookie pitcher, and they struggle at the plate. Tonight, it was Brad Hand. 

Personally, I knew the Mets were in for a tough night when I saw Angel Hernandez on the mound. For the uninitiated, the Mets have a history with him. This is mostly because he’s a bad umpire. 

Luckily, Jon Niese pitched very well. He kept this team in the game while they struggled against the 1-2, 5.12 ERA Hand.  In fact, the Mets didn’t score until Adam Conley came in the game. It took a Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] double and nice slide (good job by Niese directing him where to slide) to tie the game on the Ruben Tejada single. 

For the second time this year, Eric Campbell bailed out Terry Collins for some questionable moves. Collins had Flores bunt with two on and no out in the eighth. Flores popped out [polite applause], and Tejada couldn’t deliver. Campbell then got the go-ahead bloop hit, right over the outstretched hands of Hechavarria, scoring Lucas Duda.  Juan Lagares gave some breathing room with a two run RBI triple. The rally ended with a Curtis Granderson RBI double, which stretched the lead to 5-1. 

Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia had a bumpy eighth and ninth respectively. However, they didn’t give up a run. 

Despite winning this game, Collins’ decision making was very questionable. Look, I know I’ve been the one pounding the drum that Terry Collins has been using the platoon system; however, you cannot use it to sit Michael Conforto. When he was called up, the Mets took on the responsibility of playing him everyday. If he’s not going to play everyday, they should bring up Darrell Ceciliani. 

No matter what the Nationals do tonight (they’re currently tied at three in the eighth), the Mets will remain in sole possession of first place. Just don’t tell Bryce Harper. 

Biggest Trade Deadline Acquistion: Mets Fans are Back

Say what you want, but I’m the biggest Mets fan there is. Some may have been fans longer. Some may have gone to more games. Some may spend more money on paraphernalia, but there is no bigger Mets fan than me. 

You know what’s great though?  I just wrote that, and there are people legitimately angry at my statement. There are about a million other Mets fans who legitimately feel the same way. Despite what a garbage analysis says, Mets fans are incredible. 

Just look at the way we treated Wilmer Flores after the Carlos Gomez trade disintegrated. We gave Mike Piazza a curtain call when he was a visiting player. The fans gave Carlos Beltran a standing ovation at the 2013 AllStar  Game, and he was wearing a Cardinals uniform. If you don’t think the Mets’ fans register with the players, you’re wrong. 

Back in the old message board days, Todd Pratt would interact with Mets fans under the user name “Tank.”  If you’re a Mets fan on Twitter, Paul Lo Duca will follow you. Mike Piazza himself acknowledged the fans yesterday during the Mets game:

Last night, the fans were great. You could feel the excitement through the television. It was apparent to everyone. Curt Schilling, who  pitched in the NL East when the Mets were very good and very bad, summed it up best when he said, “[s]peaking from experience, this is a not a fan base you want to wake up.”  

That’s the thing with those of us who miss Shea. There were memories there. The baseball at Citi Field has not been good. Aside from the Johan Santana no-hitter, there have been no signature moments. But Shea?  That’s where we saw our first game. That’s where 1969 and 1986 happened. That’s where Piazza seemingly healed New York for one night:

Look at those fans. The whole country was hurting.  At that time, we questioned if it was too soon to come back to New York. We questioned if it would be safe to play a game in New York. They played, and the fans came. They roared as Mike Piazza may have hit the most important homerun ever hit. 

Guess what?  These Mets fans are back.  Like me, we’re bringing our kids with us. I know my son has been getting swept up in the excitement of these games. When I ask him if he wants to watch, he now runs so we can watch it together. He cheers the homeruns. I could not get him to sleep after the three third inning homerun innings last night. He was that excited. 

I’m more excited. I’m dreaming of an NL East title. I’m dreaming of a pennant. I’m dreaming of being able to see a World Series game with my Dad and son. That would be a dream come true. 

This season and team has momentum. I know Mets fans want to and will ride it into October.   David Wright, and to a lesser extent Daniel Murphy, knows how Mets fans can get. I’m excited to show how great we are to a whole new generation of Mets players and fans. If Matt Harvey thought the fans were good during his breakout year, he’s seen nothing yet. 

I can’t wait to see the stands as we begin to get some signature moments at Citi Field. We can finally make this place feel like home. It’s going to be a fun ride. 

Lets Go Mets!

Did the Mets Just Duda That?

On Friday at 3:00 P.M., things were about as bleak as it could be this season. The Carlos Gomez trade fell apart, and there seemed to be bickering as to whether it was due to Gomez’s hip or the Mets’ finances. On Thursday, the Mets’ bullpen inexplicably blew a six run lead

Then it seemed the Mets would add Jay Bruce until they didn’t. It sure looked like the Mets were never going to add a bat. Worst yet, the Nationals were coming into NY after previously taking 2/3 from the stud muffins. This was a Nationals team that went 15-4 against the Mets last year. 

On the eve of the trade deadline, the Mets acquired Yoenis Cespedes. The attention around the Mets changed from despair to hope. This hope continued to grow throughout the weekend. 

On Friday, it was a dominant Matt Harvey and an emotionally satisfying Wilmer Flores’ walk off homerun. On Saturday, it was the Lucas Duda Fireworks Show. Tonight, Thor was once again the story. Thor went eight innings with two two earned and nine strikeouts. 

Thor made the homerun barrage in the third to stand up. On back-to-back pitches, Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy homered. After Cespedes’ first hit as a Met, Duda capped off the five run inning with a homerun of his own. Tyler Clippard, in for Jeurys Familia (who pitched two days in a row), recorded his first save as a Mets. 

The Mets have flipped the script. They swept the Nationals and are now tied for first place in the NL East. I’m so excited that I’ll ignore they’re one behind in the loss column. The Mets are now 38-18 at home. Surprisingly, they’re 7-6 against the Nationals this season.  

The Mets are in a dead heat with the Nationaks and have six head-to-head match ups with them. They have an easy second half schedule. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Mets are in the driver’s seat in the NL East. We’ve waited seven years for this, and so far, it’s been worth the wait. Lets Go Mets!

Lucas Duda Provides the Fireworks

In case you didn’t know, Lucas Duda made sure you knew tonight was Fireworks Night. I told you Duda is awesome

His first homerun broke up the no-hitter. The second homerun let deGrom off the hook. deGrom deserved to be let off the hook too. He didn’t have his best stuff, and he was fighting it all night. However, he gave the team six solid innings, allowed only two runs, and gave the team a chance to win. Duda took advantage of that chance. 

As if the two homers weren’t enough, Duda also doubled in Curtis Granderson in the eighth. In this inning, we saw the impact of Yoenis Cespedes’ presence in the lineup. After Granderson’s double and Daniel Murphy grounded out to the pitcher, Cespedes was intentionally walked. Before tonight there was no one in the Mets’ lineup who would’ve merited that. Instead of now feeling pressure to be the entire offense, Duda was able to relax and deliver . . . and boy did he deliver. 

After Hansel Robles shut the door in the right and Duda single-handedly carried the offense to a 3-2 lead, Jeurys Familia slammed the door shut in the ninth. This looked like the Familia of the first half. 

My only qualm tonight was the lineup. It looked like Terry Collins was still drunk from celebrating last night’s win and the Cespedes acquisition. I know we all love the Wilmer Flores’ story, but this is a pennant race, and you need to field your best team (even if he almost hit a HR). That team has an outfield alignment of Cespedes in left, Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Juan Lagares in center, and Granderson in right. The only time you want Kelly Johnson in RF right now is when he’s signing autographs before the game. 

Luckily, this didn’t hurt the Mets. Also, it was good to see Collins put in Lagares late for defense.   It was better to see Duda’s offense and Familia’ dominance again. It’s even better to be a game out with Noah Syndergaard tomorrow. Lets Go Mets!

More Homerun Please Daddy

Normally, when my son sees a television, he starts asking for Elmo. When you don’t acquiesce, he begins to become upset. As you don’t want to upset your child, you usually relent. 

Yesterday, I didn’t immediately relent. I just wanted to finish watching the highlights of the Wilmer Flores’ walk off homerun before putting in that little monster. Before my son could protest, he saw the ball leave Flores’ bat.  First, he let out a “Whoa!” when he saw it go over the left field wall. Then he yelled “Yay!” when he saw the Mets players and coaches celebrating. We shared a high five. 

Now, he wasn’t asking for Elmo. He was asking me to replay the homerun. Thank God for the Roku and You Tube. After each time we saw it, he would say “more homerun please daddy.”  We must’ve watched that homerun 15+ times in a row yesterday. 

Then I took out his Little Tykes’ baseball set. After he hit the ball off the tee (we alternate sides of the plate), he ran around the house screaming homerun!  Apparently, both 20 month olds and chicks dig the long all.  This went on seemingly forever, and I loved every minute of it. 

Last night during the game when everyone came up, he said, “homerun please!”  Lucas Duda was the only one who obliged. Although we missed the first one to bath time, he saw the second. He was excited. Remember, Duda is his favorite player

I used to be happy just because he showed an interest in the game. Now that he knows what a homerun is and he wants to see one is all the more awesome. The fact that he created the moment in our living room still astonishes me. While Duda’s two homeruns were key in the Mets’ win, my favorite homeruns yesterday were the ones hit in my living room. 

New Fan Favorite

After the Carlos Gomez trade fell through, I wrote how Wilmer Flores is a role model. We can add another title to that: fan favorite. 

Last night, he received four standing ovations. Each of them more deserving than the next. As Terry Collins’ noted, the fans picked him up. This was important because, as Matt Harvey noted, Flores has been through a lot. Naturally, his teammates were happy for him (as were the fans). Collins basically said everything that happened last night couldn’t have happened to a better man. 

Isn’t that great?  It’s fun rooting for good players. It’s nice to root for good guys. It’s incredible to root for both. While, I think the jury is out on whether Flores will become a good player, we know he will work at it. He deserves the fans admiration, and Mets’ fans know how to treat their favorites. For example, Mike Piazza received a curtain call as a visiting player. 

Today of all days, it’s important to root for the good guy. On the same morning as the Flores’ love fest, we discovered New York Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was arrested while driving 143 MPH with a 12 year old in the backseat. Oh yeah, he also threw weed out the window. This comes off the heels of other disgusting NFL stories from Ray Rice to Greg Hardy. 

I’m not saying MLB and its players are perfect. By no means. I’m sure you can find several stories (like Tony LaRussa’s DWI). However, I don’t recall a MLB player with a domestic violence problem. I am saying that it is nice to watch a sport where the main focus is what is on the field more than what happens off of it. 

This is a reason why I lament the rise of the NFL. Now, I realize most NFL players are good guys. However, the sport is always dominated by negative news from “recreational” drug suspensions to steroid use to cheating scandals to domestic violence issues. I don’t want my son to be constantly exposed to that. 

I want to enjoy sports with my son. I want him to have role models. I don’t care what Charles Barkley said, children will always look up to their favorite players. I just wish more of this players were more like Wilmer Flores and less like Sheldon Richardson. 

Trades Mets Failed to Brew Up

As we sit here right now, we know the Mets have no chance to obtain Gerardo Parra and Carlos Gomez.  We know what the Gomez trade would have looked like, and I think the world has written enough about this trade.  I know I have.  What is interesting is that the Gomez deal is not the only deal the Mets failed to consummate with the Brewers.  Apparently, the Mets were also very close to obtaining Parra.  When the deal fell through, the Mets called-up Michael Conforto.

I do think Gerardo Parra would have been a nice fit on this Mets team, but since we have no information on what the deal looked like, it is hard to say if it would have been a good deal for the Mets.  What we do know is that Parra was sent to the Orioles for Zach Davies, who is the Orioles’ sixth best prospect according to Baseball America.  Baseball America did rank the Orioles as having the second worst farm system.  For his part, Keith Law did not have Davies in his Top 100 prospect list.

However, I will say that anytime you get a team’s top 10 prospect for a rental player, you’ve done a fine job.  Look, when the Mets were on the precipice of obtaining Gomez, they were giving up a future potential ace with a promising young bat.  I think the prices for the Brewers’ outfielders were understandably high.  Between the Parra deal falling apart and the Gomez deal being aborted at the last minute, the tension between the teams is so bad MLB feels the need to mediate.

It doesn’t matter anymore.  What matters is that there is two and a half hours before the trade deadline, and the Mets still need a SS, outfielder, and a LOOGY.  At the moment, it seems the Mets are just focused on one or two outfielders.  We now hear they are out on Jay Bruce and have moved on to Yoenis Cespedes and perhaps Rajai Davis.  I’m sure the cost will be too high for them, and I think if it is, the Mets will have to walk.  Remember this has become a mid-market team.  If you lose these prospects now, you don’t have reinforcements down the line.  They’re not adding payroll in the offseason.  I don’t know about you, but I think things look bleak right now, and it may look bleaker if a trade gets done (even if I am in the minority on that one).

 

Analyzing Wilmer Flores

Last night when I thought a huge trade was consummated, I wrote Wilmer Flores needed his own post.  While I have been wrong from time to time, I was prescient on this one. 

First, we should address his performance this year. To be fair and objective, he hasn’t been good. His has a triple slash line of .249/.281/.378 with an OPS+ of 83. This is a fancy way of saying he hadn’t been hitting well. We could go into advanced statistics on Flores’ defense at SS, but it was a small sample size for statistics. What we saw on the field he was a fish out of water, who had trouble turning the double play. To be fair, he was better at second. 

From what we’ve seen, Flores is a player who has been bad offensively and defensively. You may ask why should we care about someone who looks like a AAAA player right now. Well for starters, he’s a Met. You care about anyone they put in the field even if you love or hate that player. Also, he’s still only 23 years old with the ability to improve. 

And he does look to improve as a player. Even though he was handed the SS position by the team, he sought ways to improve at the position (unlike some players). He has shown flashes of offensive potential. He’s hit 10 homeruns and has shown that he may have the clutch gene. Also, he cares and wants to be a New York Met. 
We all saw it last night. He was crying while at his SS position. Despite being shaken up by the ordeal, he was a man and took questions at his locker. In the impromptu press conference, he described himself as being with the Mets forever. He effectively has been as he was signed as a 16 year old kid out of Venezuela. 

Just think about that for a second.  For those of us who went away to college, it was the first time we ever truly leave the house. You don’t see your mother and father everyday. You’re effectively on your own for the first time. Sure, you’re excited. Your whole life is in front of you. However, it’s also sad. When your parents go home, you won’t see them for a while. If anyone tells you they didn’t get the least bit emotional, they’re lying to you. 

Flores left his home and his country when he was 16. He went to a country with a different culture and spoke a different language. I don’t care what anyone says. This takes courage. He showed character in making his way to the majors even if he wasn’t ready; especially so with how the Mets have jerked him around this year. 

I dare say Wilmer Flores is a role model. He’s someone that works hard on his craft. He gave up a lot to pursue his dreams. He never publicly complained with how he’s been moved all over the infield in the two years he’s been in the majors. He cared enough about the team and his teammates that he was moved to tears at the prospect of leaving them all behind. In his most trying hour in the big leagues, he faced reporters and answered their questions. 

I don’t know if Flores will ever hit enough to cover his defensive problems, but I do know he’ll do everything he can do to improve. Now that he hasn’t been traded, I hope he sticks around for a while (for right now that should be on the bench). If he moves on, I will applaud for him when he returns. 

It’s possible that one day I will discuss this with my son as it’s a teachable moment. I’ll tell him to pursue his dreams.  I’ll tell him he needs to work hard everyday to perfect his craft. I’ll tell him we’ll support him no matter where life takes him. I’ll tell him that even in the most trying of times, you have to be a man. That means meeting your responsibilities (for Flores it meant playing the field and answering reporter’s questions). It also means you can be moved to tears when it’s time to pick up and move away. I know I’ll be in tears when he does . . . thank God that’s a long time away.