Tag Archives: october

Manuel, Stay of Go

16 Mar

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By Jim Walters

Mike Lupica of the NY Daily News reports this morning that Jerry Manuel should stay as  the coach of the Mets this season, despite whatever happens during the course of the season.

Lupica depicts Manuel as the product of bad luck. He also looks back to 2008 when Manuel replaced Randolph, listing other coaches who would’ve lost that final game at Shea.

The media in this town is interesting. When they love a guy, he gets more passes than he deserves. But when the media dislikes a guy, they can write him off before the season even starts.

Manuel is loved in this town, probably due to his easy demeanor and sense of humor. He is an easy guy to root for.

However, he is no different that Willie Randolph who the Mets showed the door at the early morning hours on a west coast trip.

The only difference is that the media likes Manuel, and the injuries of last year and this spring will always be included into the explanation for his failures. Yet for Randolph, the lack of starting pitching during his tenure was his fault, not Minaya’s.

Last year, in addition to the injuries, the Mets did not play fundamental baseball. This falls on the manager. You don’t see this with Bobby Cox and Tony LaRussa.

Manuel and Minaya are on thin ice despite what the media says because Mets ownership is as dysfunctional as the starting rotation is.

Perhaps the winner after this season will be Manuel who may get kicked out-of-town and doesn’t have to deal with the nonsense of this franchise anymore.

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Biazarro World

14 Mar

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By Jim Walters

Remember when Elaine entered bizarro world in that classic Seinfeld episode. Her new friends were complete opposites from her regular crew of Jerry, George and Kramer.

Imagine if this season for the Mets is bizarro world and everything goes right. Here’s one man’s guess of what that would  look like.

  • Jose Reyes is out for only two weeks instead of 8 and he is playing short at Citi Field on April 5th. He proves to be innocent of the hgh questions, but a certain third baseman of the Bronx can’t say the same.
  • Carlos Beltran is in centerfield by the end of April, but fans will miss the tag team efforts of Angel Pagan and Gary Matthews Jr, who held down the fort. Beltran comes back and does for the Mets what A-Rod did for the Yankees upon his May return last year. He also reveals that his mole gives him his mojo.
  • Johan Santana wins 20 games, the Cy Young and beats Roy Halladay in the three head to head match-ups this season.
  • Daniel Murphy proves Omar right, hitting .305 with 20 home runs and 95 RBIs. He also manages to play a decent first base. Keith Hernandez reminds us that he’s responsible.
  • Benjie Molina pulls a hamstring in week three and Rod Barajas hits 20 home runs and bats .260.
  • David Wright returns to his old form, hitting 30 home runs, 120 RBIs and bats .310. Wright wins the first MVP for New York.
  • Jason Bay hits 35 home runs, bats .280 and drives in 120 runs. His legs prove to be fine as Peter Gammons offers a public apology. Unfortunately its on the MLB network and no one sees it.
  • John Maine and Mike Pelfrey each win 15 games. Oliver Perez, well, not even in bizarro world is he very good.
  • Jenrry Mejia and Francisco Rodriguez become the best 1-2 punch, making most games feel like a 7-inning game.
  • Luis Castillo doesn’t drop any pop-ups.
  • Jerry Manuel doesn’t have to foolishly say he expects any of his players to be back in a week.
  • Omar Minaya gets to lead press conferences again.
  • Citi Field lowers ticket prices so families can go to a game and not miss a mortgage payment.
  • Mets retire Mike Piazza’s number.
  • Mets win the division, go on to get revenge against the Cardinals and beat the Yankees in the World Series.
  • Mets don’t mention Phillies in their championship celebration.
  • And finally, kids throughout the city trade in their Yankees jerseys for “Don’t Mess with the Johan” t-shirts.

A guy could dream….

Can Mets Pitch Like 2006

12 Mar

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By Jim Walters

Entering the 2010 season, besides issues of health, the biggest concern for the New York Mets is their pitching staff.

Many baseball analysts already declared this as a major problem for New York, questioning what they can get out of the starting rotation. While Johan Santana is expected to have a strong year, although he is overcoming elbow surgery, the rest of the rotation is a mixed bag of question marks.

Back in 2006, New York ran away with the National League Eastern division, winning 97 games. They did it with a high-powered offense but the pitching wasn’t very solid.

Tom Glavine led the way that year, going 15-7, finally earning his contract. Steve Trachsel will always be remembered for his embarrassing performance in October, but he did go 15-8 as the Mets number two starter, pitching to a high era of 4.97.  Pedro Martinez went 9-8, Orlando Hernandez went 9-7 and John Maine was 6-5. Not very impressive.

The reason why this team was so successful, besides their high-powered offense, was their great bullpen.  Billy Wagner had a superb year with 40 saves, pitching to a record of 3-2.  Duaner Sanchez, 5-2, and Pedro Feliciano, 7-2, carried the Mets bullpen and kept games close for the offense. Darren Oliver, 4-1, stepped in many games that year when the starters failed. The bullpen also included Aaron Heilman, 4-5, and Chad Bradford, 4-2.

While the rotation was shaky, the bullpen was phenomenal. Yet as good as it was, it was certainly overworked, pitching 150 more innings in 2006 than it did in 2005. This workload hurt New York in the NLCS as the bullpen showed its wear and tear from a starting rotation that could not go deep into games.

It also didn’t help that in the closing weeks of the season, Martinez and Hernandez went down. Maine and Oliver Perez were asked to fill the void and they did, but it only added stress on to the pen.

Going into 2010, Santana needs to have a big year. The question that follows is this: can any other pitcher get to double-digits in wins? With a bullpen that has its own questions, the only promise that the Mets can give their fans going into the season is that this isn’t going to be easy.

A Look Back at the 2000 Mets

10 Mar

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By Jim Walters

Ten years ago, the New York Mets entered Spring Training confident after a remarkable run in the 1999 postseason. Led by Bobby Valentine, Mike Piazza and Al Leiter, the Mets added Mike Hampton to solidify the rotation, bringing high hopes to Port St. Lucie.

During the offseason, New York bid farewell to John Olerud but welcomed fan favorite Todd Zeile to play first. Derek Bell also joined the team, quickly capturing the hearts of the New York fans with an Opening Day at Shea home run.

New York won 94 games that year, finishing with the Wild Card and their first pennant in 14 years.. Their rotation featured Hampton, Leiter, Rick Reed, Bobby Jones and Glendon Rusch. Their bullpen included Armando Benitez, John Franco, Rick White, Turk Wendell, Dennis Cook and Pat Mahomes.

It feels like yesterday when the Mets rallied from 8-1 down in the bottom of the 8th at Shea Stadium against the rival Atlanta Braves. With John Rocker sidelined and the crowd packed for the post-game fireworks show, the Mets mounted one of the more remarkable comebacks in team history, scoring 10 runs, capped by a Mike Piazza laser off the retired numbers in left field.

Who could forget the Roger Clemens- Mike Piazza rivalry that started with the beaning of Piazza in July and ended with Clemens throwing a piece of  Piazza’s broken bat at the Mets catcher in the World Series. It was a bizarre rivalry that has been debated ever since. Was Clemens using illegal substances that caused the rage and should have Piazza stormed the mound remain “what ifs” that have been debated for a decade.

The year 2000 also brought us the Benny Agbayani home run to kick off the season in game two against the Chicago Cubs in Japan. Agbayani went full circle, hitting another late-inning blast six months later to give the Mets the pivotal game three win against the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS.

It has been ten years since the Mets brought the National League pennant to New York. While the years since have been frustrating and more recently heartbreaking, the 2000 Mets were a feisty team that was easy to root for.

While the season ended in disappointment as the Yankees celebrated their 26th World Championship on the field of Shea, it was a special year for the Mets and their faithful fans.

Perez the next Koufax

9 Mar

By Jim Walters

Two weeks ago, Hall of Fame great Sandy Koufax worked with a few of the Mets pitchers. Koufax, a long-time friend of Mets Owner, Fred Wilpon, often makes this annual trip to Port St. Lucie to pass on his wisdom.

This year, it felt as if this visit by Koufax was the only hope Oliver Perez had left.  Perez, coming off of a disastrous, injury-plagued year, is healthy and confident. Mets ownership is counting on Perez to win 15-games, but few in the game or the stands believe it.

When Koufax was interview by reporters, he made reference to his early career where he was as inconsistent as Perez. Then, at the age of 25, things changed and he turned into one of the game’s greats.

So, I looked up both Koufax and Perez’ numbers to see how similar they are.

Koufax  pitched to a record of 36-40 in his first six seasons with the Dodgers. In his first two seasons, he only started 28 games. Perez went 45-53 in his first  six season seasons, only pitching in 40 games in his first two seasons. While the numbers aren’t identical, they are similar enough to see how Koufax could see himself in Perez.

In Koufax’s seventh season, his career changed. The year was 1961 and he went 18-13.  In fact, from 1961- 1966, Koufax pitched to an incredible record of 129-47, including three seasons where he won more than 25 games.

The game was different then as pitchers went deep into games and often completed them. In the current version of this game, few pitchers in this game finish their own starts.

Back to Perez. In his 7th and 8th seasons, his record was 13-11. His 8th season was last year when he only started 14 games.

Few believe Perez is going to do what Koufax did forty years ago. While he is only 28 and healthy, Mets fans have heard enough about potential. Perez’ inconsistency overshadows those moments of brilliance. His 2006 October performance is a distant memory.

What makes Perez so unique is that his talent was never in question. It is his mental make-up that people worry about. Can the switch go off and Perez become the number two starter New York needs him to be? Or will Perez continue to draw jeers from the crowd and a pink slip for his General Manager and Manager?

Two weeks ago, Koufax looked at Perez and related to the young lefty’s struggles. Koufax walked in those shoes but seven seasons in, he figured it out and became an all-time great.  For Perez and the Mets, the hope of this franchise lands in this inconsistent starter who could lead the Mets to October or he can continue to be the face of a losing franchise.

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2010 Preview: Month by Month

4 Mar

By Jim Walters

March is here and spring is right around the corner. They are playing ball in Florida and Opening Day on April 5th is drawing near.

Lets examine the schedule to see what the summer may bring:

April

New York kicks of the 2010 campaign with the first “Opening Day” at Citi Field against those pesky Florida Marlins. We will likely be treated to a Josh Johnson (Met killer) vs. Johan Santana pitching duel.

After the pomp and circumstance, New York will realize they play 17 of their first 24 games in Citi Field. A strong start is necessary for Jerry and Omar. Somewhere Bobby V will be waiting for the door to open.

The second home stand will be an instant test for this team, hosting the Braves, Cubs and Dodgers. Could this be Jerry’s last stand.

As April ends, the Mets renew their rivalry with the Phillies on April 30th in hostile Philadelphia.

May

While May begins with the Phillies, this month’s home stand of the season is from the 21st to the 27th as New York hosts the Yankees and Philadelphia where Citi will be full and the team will face its biggest test of the young season. While this home stand means a great deal to the fans, it will be the games against the Marlins, Brewers and Braves that will determine where this team is in the standings.

June

It’s interleague month and New York squares off with the Yankees, Orioles and Indians on the road while hosting the Tigers and Twins. The AL Central is a strong division that will test the Amazins’ with their quality pitching.

July

When you look at the July calendar, there is one thing that stands out: the long road trip when the Mets plays 11 straight games in San Francisco (4), Arizona (3), Dodgers (4). This trip follows the All-Star break. Every Mets fan has to wonder as this trip comes to an end, are they buyers or sellers as the trading deadline looms near.

Perhaps the most exciting day this month will by Monday July 5th when fireworks night returns to Queens as the Mets host the Reds.

August

The dog days of summer will begin with a road trip against the Braves and Phillies. How important will the stretch be in mid-August when they play 13 games against the Astros seven times, Pirates for three and Marlins for three. Can this be the time for the Mets to make their run.

September

I get chills when I think of this month and it’s not because of the weather. A 10-game home stand against the Phillies, Pirates and Braves will be pivotal for this team.  Tough road games in Chicago and Philadelphia also makes this month very interesting.

October

The season concludes with a home stand that brings us into October. Four games to end September against the Brewers and three to end the season in October against the Nationals have wild card implications written all over this schedule.

Both teams should be under .500, which sets up like 2007 and 2008. Can this city really stand another collapse?

So often the team that starts on Opening Day is different from the team that plays in September and October. If the Mets are winning, it is likely that they would have added a pitcher (Bronson Arroyo?) and that they obviously stayed healthy. If the Mets are losing, will Ike Davis be at first and Josh Thole be catching. While it is promising for the future, this youth movement will mean another lost year in Flushing and a lot of empty seats in Citi, making this new jewel of the city feeling more like good old Shea.