Spring Training more or less just started, and already we have my favorite Mets-related Twitter hashtag for at least the next month. This is what makes Mets fans so great. Hopefully the guy continues to show the awareness we’ve seen so far on the baseball field, if only so that can we have more #MoreCowgill.
The Big C: There's no need for Wright to be the "Official Captain"
Yesterday, Terry Collins told reporters that his third baseman David Wright need not wear a “C” on his jersey, citing Derek Jeter as an example as someone who just implicitly acts as his team’s leader without all the fanfare of having some extra stitching on his uniform.
This is his team. He’s the face of it. He’s the captain.
To me, that’s the beginning, middle, and end of the discussion. For the sake of not hitting submit right away, here’s a little more discussion anyhow.
Over the past 9 years, we’ve all watched as David Wright’s grown up on the baseball field. There were ups, there were downs, and there were those times when he’d get all up in Mike Pelfrey’s business (for example).
Outside of the 2011 season when David had injuries to contend with, he’s been the picture of consistency. He says all the right things after every single game, regardless of which of the W/L columns it was to be filed under. He’s always the first one to run out of the dugout while the PA announcer at Citi Field introduces the squad. Those are all things that a captain does. If you’re a fan of the Mets, and certainly if you’re a member of the Mets, you already knew all of this. But it bears repeating anyway: David Wright is the captain of the New York Mets.
Look, if all parties involved decide that, yes, let’s go ahead and slap that “C” on the guy’s chest, then so be it. I would not object, and honestly? I’d probably get a little thrill out of seeing it for the first time, myself. It’s been a while since John Franco was around, after all. As it is now though, it’s my opinion that they just save the trouble of stitching it onto his uniform. It’s far from a crucial thing to do.
Now, if we can get past calling him the “Mets’ Jeter” so that one day some other fanbase can call one of their key players “this team’s David Wright,” or better still, Mets fans call someone “this generation’s David Wright,” I’d really be happy.
With a day off today, the Mets have time to reflect on losing six of their last seven games. Things could look pretty pretty crappy right now.
But a day off is also a good time to put something in a broader picture: it’s nothing short of miraculous that the Mets were in a position to lose six of seven games and still have a 32-29 record in the middle of June.
This team could have folded a long time ago. What reasons could they have had for throwing in the towel and calling it an inevitable losing season?
Ike Davis, supposed to be a core part of our lineup, has arguably been the worst hitter in baseball this year with a .162 average.
The Mets have a bullpen ERA of 5.46. The next highest ERA in MLB? The Cubs at 4.41. According to sources at the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s like really, really bad.
In March, more people would have thought Omar Quintanilla was a new dish at Taco Bell instead of the team’s latest shortstop for the last stretch of time.
Mike Pelfrey. Season-ending surgery. Remember him?
Jason Bay is still the Jason Bay of the Mets. He’s hitting .197.
Andres Torres, who has played 38 games this season in primarily centerfield, is hitting .209.
The Mets may need to move the fences in another 20 feet if Daniel Murphy wants to start knocking it out of the park. In 232 at-bats, he has yet to homer.
The Mets have a run differential of -19.
The team ace, Johan Santana, began the season returning from a shoulder surgery people were unsure he’d ever recover from.
The fact that they are above .500 despite all of this is incredible.
This year, the NL East was meant to be a race between four teams, with the poor ‘ole Mets limping their way to another rough finish. In March, don’t you think everyone other than a Mets fan would have laughed at the notion that they’d be above .500 at this point in the season? What if you told those people they’d be above .500 given everything up there?
Before the season, 50 ESPN writers made predictions for the MLB season. Not one of the 50 said the Mets would win the NL East or claim either of the wild card slots. Each of the other four teams in the division received plenty of mentions in the predictions.
And right now, the Mets are pretty average. And average isn’t acceptable, in the long run. Nor does it mean the Mets will be average at the end of the season—they could be better or worse.
But, take a look at the lineup they’re trotting out there on a daily basis, the stiff competition in the NL East, the injuries, the pitching—isn’t it pretty goddamn amazin’ that the Mets are average at this point?
And Ike Davis won’t hit .162 all season. The bullpen can’t have a 5.46 ERA all season (they can’t be that bad…right? right?). Daniel Murphy will probably end the season with a home run and an OPS above his current mark of .690, because he’s just a better hitter than that.
Maybe Omar Quintanilla will be a recognizable name among Mets fans by the end of the season because the dude is hitting .314 with a .956 OPS.
And Johan’s arm is only going to get stronger.
It’s pretty awesome that the Mets are in a position to compete right now. Between the disastrous bullpen, major holes in the lineups and injuries to critical players there was a lot of room for this team to be dreadful. Miserable. Terrible. God awful.
Yet here they are. 32-29.
A lot of these problems can be fixed over the next couple months—at 32-29 the Mets have a legitimate shot of winning the NL East or a Wild Card birth. With everything that has hit the fan so far this season, that’s pretty freakin’ amazin’.
Many Mets fans can agree that loving the Mets can be a lot like a bad relationship. For some, the events of the last few years felt like the last straw. Avoiding the park simply out of a feeling of betrayal from a franchise that wouldn’t resign one of our most beloved players in Jose Reyes and after squandering millions of dollars on a bad deal with a convicted felon.
We may never know how much the Mets knew about Madoff, but the whole affair left a bad taste in the mouth of some fans and questioning the baseball moves of the team seemed quaint as compared to the sick-to-your-stomach feeling that ownership might be involved in some very bad things.
Last night, I started to forgive and tried to forget. This season was not expected to yield much. A rebuilding year. A franchise coming out of the nuclear winter of financial ruin less devestated than worried they might be, but still battered. June 1st, a game out of first place, several games above five hundred than this late in some time.
And a miracle.
In some ways last night was almost as sweet as a World Series win, not quite, but so rare, for this team at least. Something the team has longed to achieve for 50 seasons. They’ve won two World Series championships. They never had a pitcher toss a no-hitter. You go through every game with the hope this might be the one. That’s a lot of games and a lot of longing. This was big. This was special.
Who knows what the rest of the season holds for this team, but something changed. This was a turning point for some people and allowed me to finally move on and enjoy it with the baggage a little less heavy.
Terry cried, I cried and I finally remembered what it was like to really truly fall in love with this team again.
Amazing Things About The Mets First Ever No Hitter
The Mets played 8,020 games before they secured a no-hitter.
The Mets won their first no-hitter in their 50th season
Mike Baxter made an incredible catch to preserve the no-hitter, injuring his shoulder in the process. Baxter grew up in Queens rooting for the Mets.
The hitter Baxter robbed was Yadier Molina, who hit a two run home run in the top of the ninth inning in Game 7 of the NLCS in 2006. The Cardinals won the game 3-1, knocking the Mets out of the playoffs. The Cardinals went on to win the World Series, beating the Detroit Tigers in five games.
This was the first game Carlos Beltran returned to Queens in a Cardinals uniform. As a Met, Beltran had a chance to beat the Cardinals in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 7 of that NLCS in 2006. The tying runs were on base, with two outs, and Beltran himself representing the winning run. He struck out on a nasty curveball by Adam Wainwright, who started tonight’s game.
In the sixth inning, Carlos Beltran hit a hard line drive down the left field line that appears to have landed on the third base foul line, making it a fair ball and breaking up the no-hitter. The umpire called the ball foul and after reviewing the replay after the game refused to comment.
Only two teams in baseball had yet to have a pitcher toss a no-hitter going into tonight’s game. The San Diego Padres are the only team left, 43 seasons, 6,895 games without a no-hitter. The Mets had the longest streak of seasons without a no-hitter.
Johan Santana threw 135 pitches, his most ever. Terry Collins told Johan, “you’re my hero” when he came to the mound to see if Santana was able to keep pitching after throwing his 118th pitch in the 8th inning. Collins later became emotional at the press conference following the game discussing what he told Johan, and said “I couldn’t take him out, I couldn’t”
The most pitches Santana had thrown before this was 108.
Santana did not have his best stuff, he struck out just 8 and walked 5 batters.
Johan also tossed the first back to back complete game shut outs for the Mets since 1992, by David Cone.
Johan Santana became the eighth player in MLB history to throw a no-hitter against the defending World Series champions. Last pitcher to do it was Nolan Ryan, against the defending champion Athletics, in 1990.
Johan missed the entire 2011 season with a surgically repaired shoulder. Pretty sure nobody has ever pitched a no-hitter after missing an entire season to injury. UPDATE: Elias says, Santana was the third non-rookie pitcher in the last 50 years to throw a no-hitter after missing a season to injury. The other two: Jim Palmer in 1969 and Doc Gooden in 1996.
13 ex-Met pitchers threw no-hitters after leaving the Mets, 2 pitched perfect games. Former Met David Cone pitched a perfect game for the Yankees. Philip Humber pitched a perfect game for the White Sox.
The Cardinals have the best offense in the National League, they lead the league in home runs, runs, and batting average.
The last time the Cardinals were no-hit was 1990, by Fernando Valenzuela.
This was only the 13th game where Santana pitched a full 9 innings in 272 career starts.
Josh Thole, who caught Santana’s perfect game, was appearing in his first game since missing nearly an entire month with a concussion.
This was the first no-hitter thrown by an NL pitcher since Roy Halladay in the 2010 NLDS, before that, the last five no-hitters were by AL pitchers.
The last pitcher to throw a shutout and then a no-hitter in consecutive starts was Dave Righetti in 1983.
Santana is the 4th pitcher to have won multiple Cy Young Awards before his first no-hitter. The other four: Josh Gibson, Bret Saberhagen, and Tom Seaver.
But with the Mets, particularly in the last couple years, reasons to validate those beliefs have been few and far between. Not that believing needs validation—the funny thing about faith is that it needs no justification—but it’s nice every once in a while. Otherwise, us fans might go and build a golden calf or something.
The start to this season is has been an uplifting moment, reminding me why I believe. Whether the Mets finish 162-0 or 4-158, stretches like these are a taste of the deliciousness of fandom.
And what’s best about the 4-0 start is how it is so antithetical to the pessimistic same-‘ole-Mets narrative that grows louder seemingly every season.
Let’s take a game-by-game look at the Mets four wins to start the season:
Game 1: Mets 1, Braves 0 - In his first start in over a season, Johan Santana throws five shutout innings, but leaves the game without a lead. Classic Mets, not giving Santana run support and ruining a day that should have been his glorious comeback.David Wright goes hitless in his first two at bats. Same ‘ole Mets, same ‘ole Wright of the last couple seasons. But wait—Wright notches an RBI single in the next inning, giving the team a 1-0 lead. The Mets have nowhere near good enough a bullpen to maintain a 1-0 lead, it’s just a matter of time until they blow it. Four relievers, three of whom were newly acquired in the off-season, combine to allow two hits and zero runs as the Mets win on opening day.
Game 2: Mets 4, Braves 2 -No way the Mets can keep this up. The offense just isn’t good enough. Who cares about moving the walls in, this team just doesn’t have any power. Lucas Duda went hitless in the opener and isn’t actually a MLB hitter. Wright might have gone 2-for-4 in the opener, but as Keith Hernandez always says, Wright is only at his best when he’s going the opposite way and his RBI single was to left field. First inning, Wright homers the opposite way to right field. Fourth inning, Duda homers. Seventh inning, Duda homers again. Only one of the two jacks would have gone out at the old Citi Field. After R.A. Dickey allows just two runs in six innings, and the bullpen combines for three scoreless frames to make the Mets 2-0.
Game 3: Mets 7, Braves 5 - OK, this has been nice but sweeping the hated Braves to start the season? Laughable. And is Ruben Tejada seriously going to lead off? That dude looks like he belongs more in the nine slot. Through six innings the Mets led 7-0. Unlike last game where they were carried by the longball, the Mets rally for all their runs, led by a 4-for-5 performance from Tejada in which he hits two doubles, registering two RBI and runs scored. And through six innings, Jon Niese has a no hitter going. It gets broken up in the seventh and after two unearned runs, and the Braves rally themselves back into the ballgame, down just 7-5 after eight innings. Classic Mets, pitcher takes a no-no into the 7th inning and we’re not even going to give him the win. The bullpen finally decides to blow a game, and it’s after a no-hit bid. Of course. Like the previous two games, Frank Francisco tosses a scoreless ninth while striking out the last batter he faces, giving the Mets a 3-0 start.
Game 4: Mets 4, Nationals 3 - Mike Pelfrey on the mound? The question isn’t winning or losing, it’s losing by how much. Pelfrey allows a run in the first inning and two more in the third, giving the Nats an early 3-0 lead. Told ya so! Just wait for the wheels to REALLY fall off. The Mets tack one on in the third and rookie Kirk Nieuwenhuis launches a bomb in the fourth, knotting the game up. Oh of course, tie this game up just to give us hope and break our hearts. The Mets WOULD do that. Pelfrey regains his composure, and grinds out more scoreless ball through 5.2, while the bullpen picks it up without allowing a hit for the remainder of the game. Daniel Murphy knocks home an RBI single in the ninth to a chorus of “undefeated” chants at Citi Field as the Mets move to 4-0.
Now, the italics there, that wasn’t me. I’m not the self-loathing type. I wouldn’t be a fan, particularly of the Mets, if I didn’t have the capacity for irrational optimism.
Those italics, however, are the narrative of what some people usually assign to the Mets. Maybe fans don’t actually do that and it’s just people on the radio but you hear it over and over again—same ‘ole Mets.
Everything the Mets could have done to shake our hope and keep us from believing in these first four contests, they have done the opposite.
I’ve always remembered to believe, but these four games made me remember why.
We can probably all agree that this was a foregone conclusion. John Franco was a fan favorite (yes, and “fan frustrator”) for many years, so this wasn’t really much of a surprise. Good for Johnny Franco, for whom I still remember Go Johnny Go being played and thinking the following two things:
Time for John Franco!
I sure hope it’s a smooth outing…
A former captain of the Mets who I’m glad is getting this honor. Congratulations, Johnny boy.
Every few weeks, Mets fans are panicked (or excited, depending on the player and the fan) by a new set of articles speculating on whether or not the Mets will trade David Wright. Realistically, nothing changes over these few weeks - its not as if all of these new articles contain credible rumors with actual suitors - but, there is this moon cycle of articles nonetheless.
Following Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings the past couple weeks, there has been a new set of articles stating that the Mets would move Ike Davis or Jon Niese in the right deal.
If you haven’t already - PANIC NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THE METS ARE EXPLORING ALL THEIR OPTIONS OF POTENTIAL WAYS TO IMPROVE. THE HORROR!!!
Obviously, the Mets are better with Ike Davis and Jon Niese on the team than not on the team. Furthermore, it is enjoyable to watch two home grown talents succeed. Davis and Niese are young, talented and still under team control for a number of years. Trading them does not seem to make too much sense - they are affordable and good, a commodity any team, especially the cash-strapped Mets, need.
But, it is also clear this front office is calculating. As good, young, and cheap Niese and Davis are, the front office is all about value. If I could peer into the mind of Sandy Alderson and his brain trust, I would guess this is their logic for any trade discussion, whether it is for Wright, Niese, Davis or any other player on the team:
Player X has a value of Y to the Mets. Y is based on their assessment of his talent, contract situation, how he fits into the team, how much money he will generate for the team (Wright, for example, might be more valuable than his skill because he sells more jerseys and tickets and whatnot) and so forth. For the players on the Mets roster, the front office knows Y for a given player - they know, based on their assessments of the player, how valuable he is to them. If a team is willing to offer a package of players whose value exceeds Y they will do the trade…regardless of the name on the back of the jersey.
Niese and Davis have a high value to the team as talented, homegrown players who will remain cheap for a long time. Still, if a team is willing to send a package of players over who the Mets perceive to be more valuable than Niese/Davis - the decision is easy, do the trade.
The Mets are not stupid - Sandy Alderson didn’t wake up one morning and think, “Man, you know what I could do today? Get ride of Ike Davis, Jon Niese and David Wright. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do.” But, if a team is willing to offer a collection of players worth more than Niese, Davis or Wright, in order to acquire one of them, should he really say no?
Negatively reacting to the mere fact that the front office is listening to offers on a player seems silly to me. Should Alderson hang up the phone immediately before hearing what is offered? Or should he examine if it might make the team better?
I imagine that’s all these discussions are about - making the team better based on their value assessments, even if it’s difficult for us to see how trading some players does that.
In 2011, the Mets were 60-64 with him starting, according to Baseball-Reference. That means, when he was not starting, the team had a record of 17-21.
In 2010, the Mets were 64-68 when he started and 15-15 when he did not.
Obviously there are plenty of other factors — who else was healthy at the time, the opponents the Mets played in the games without him and so forth. My point is not to undermine his importance and value to the team and fanbase.
Rather, I think it is important to illuminate that the future of this team rests on far more than the decision the team makes in regards to Reyes. His talents, demeanor and energy are irreplaceable not only statistically, but also emotionally.
But, whether or not the Mets bring him back is only a part of a much larger puzzle that needs to be assembled. I desperately hope they resign him; I have never watched a more electrifying player. Regardless of the outcome, however, the decision requires perspective — bringing him back is just one step towards building a good team, and is in no way an encompassing solution.
I have a Twitter. Sometimes I say smart things. Other times I don’t. Take a risk and follow @andrewlbeaton
I have no doubt in my mind that I would lose to Sandy Alderson in a game of poker. He crunches numbers (a long with his uber-smart front office), he reads markets, and he is among the best in the sport at not tipping his hand.
Raise your hand if you saw the Francisco Rodriguez to the Brewers trade coming. (crickets)
Did most baseball pundits see Carlos Beltran being worth one of the best pitching prospects in baseball? Nope, but he sure was traded for one in Zack Wheeler.
And currently, many of those same people point to Jose Reyes being a sure-fire goner. Hold your horses. Whether or not he does inevitably leave, give the front office a chance.
Sure, the 2011 season was not overtly successful. The Mets lost more games than they won. But, it also gave me every reason to believe that Alderson knows exactly what he is doing and has a vision to bring this team to a point of long term sustainable success. And, just because he is not making headlines by being the most aggressive pursuer of Reyes, there is difference between being the aggressor and the winner.
But, if you read a variety of Mets columnists and beat writers, there is a prevailing sense of dissatisfaction among many (though to be clear, not all) of them.
Adam Rubin of ESPN New York - ”If the ultimate verdict with Reyes is a calculated baseball decision, so be it. But shame on the Mets if he departs and it is primarily payroll-constraint induced.”
Joel Sherman, of the New York Post ”The Mets insist they want to retain Jose Reyes, but at their reasonable price, and well, they should really stop saying that.
It is akin to going into a Mercedes dealership, badly wanting a new model and telling a salesman you are willing to go as high as $5,000 to get one.”
Matt Cerrone and Michael Baron at Mets Blog have been good at responding to these claims. For a good example, read this Mets Blog post by Cerrone.
To me, the most frustrating part about the current complaints with the Mets pursuit of Reyes is that the gripes are impatient. What has Sandy Alderson done wrong to warrant the Hatorade cooler being dumped on his head? He has done nothing but sit down and let the market develop, without blindly calling before he sees the flop.
Unfortunately, people who avidly follow the Mets are used to this. As Mets fans, or people who cover the Mets, we have grown accustomed to the fact that every column by Kevin Rosenthal, Jon Heyman and Buster Olney will include the newest tidbit about what top-tier free agent the Mets are pursuing. Now, all of those columns are about what teams are pursuing the Mets’ top-tier free agent.
A few years ago, with Omar Minaya as GM, it was a media inevitability that the Mets would sign Jason Bay OR Matt Holiday. Not if. Before that, we knew to expect big trades like for Johan Santana or Carlos Delgado. And, if the media perceived a hole in the team, whether it was in the lineup or bullpen, the Mets would surely fix it by signing Billy Wagner or Carlos Beltran. After all, the rumors said it was going to be happen.
For those years, the Mets dominated the hot stove. The media knew what Minaya wanted, everybody knew he would spend money, and with enough money, he was skilled enough to get what he wanted. But, the fact that everybody knew this was what he wanted, and he was expected to get it, it inherently drove up the price.
Should Alderson apologize for avoiding that?
When he took over, I believe we all knew to expect something different. I think most people were fine with the wait-and-see approach of last off-season because we were eager for a change from the strategy of throwing big bucks at whoever people thought the team was supposed to show the money.
Sherman likens this strategy that the Mets have employed with Reyes as trying to buy a new Mercedes for $5,000. Find me an article saying the Mets just offered Jose Reyes a two-year $20 million deal, and I’ll accept that the Mets are cheapskate low-ballers.
But, in fact, I think he is doing the opposite. Reyes knows he is in for a giant payday; any initial offer would be a low-ball. The front office is avoiding that because regardless of what the Mets offered at this point, I imagine Reyes would shop himself to other teams and figure out what he is worth. If there were only one Mercedes left in the dealership, Alderson is saying, let me know what the other four guys in the shop will pay for it, and I’ll talk it over with my wife and see if we think that’s most prudent for the family right now.
More than anything — more than being a scout, or some type of numbers crunching SABR-slut — Alderson has a keen understanding of markets. He knows the value of what he has, what he should spend and what he wants. And, he keeps all of it close to his chest. He showed this, more than anything this year.
Just look at the Beltran and K-Rod deals.
The point is, there is this growing dissatisfaction with the front office because they aren’t going for some balls out pursuit of Reyes. And realistically, there is a good chance that he signs elsewhere. But, there is also a good chance he resigns with the Amazins. When all is set and done, I’d be surprised if after he tests the market and receives offers, the Mets do not get a chance to match or respond to whatever his highest offer is. This is not to say they will match it, but I think it makes sense for everybody involved to give the Mets that opportunity. It’s not as if the two parties had a falling out - he still lives with his family in New York, where his career started and he is loved.
At least, I personally, am not going to write him or the front office off before the dust clears. Right now, there is just a giant fuss because the team isn’t kicking the dirt around in the way we’re used to as media and fans.
“I know if I had to do it all over again, I would have stayed…It looks good on the other side, but it’s not always as good as the place that you’re used to. When you’re young, you don’t realize that. For me, I was young and I didn’t realize what New York meant to me…So tell [Jose Reyes] that New York is a great place. No matter what, it’s a great place to play. No matter what you have to go through, how difficult it gets, this is the place where you want to play.”—
Darryl Strawberry regrets leaving Mets, tells Reyes to stay