Tag Archives: opening day

Mets Youth Movement

16 Mar

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By Jim Walters

All of  a sudden, the New York Mets look young.

Consider this. Johan Santana is the oldest pitcher in the starting rotation. This is a far cry from the days of Tom Glavine and Orlando Hernandez.

In the outfield, Carlos Beltran is the veteran at age 32. In the infield, Luis Castillo takes the crown at the age of 33.

Yet all around the team, you see a youth movement. The following players are some of the 30 and younger Mets:  David Wright, Jose Reyes, Jeff Francoeur, Jason Bay, Daniel Murphy, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, John Maine, John Neise, Francisco Rodriguez.

When the Opening Day rosters are determined, this team will rank near the top as one of the younger teams in the game. Give Minaya credit as the Mets turned young before our eyes.

Unfortunately, they will depend on this youth  in the starting rotation to compete in a division that’s starting pitching is as young, but only better.

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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.

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….

Opening Day Tickets Arrive

12 Mar

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By Jim Walters

I received my Opening Day tickets today. Like Jimmy Fallon in Fever Pitch, I have to admit to smelling them, and guess what, they do smell like championship material. Feeling a bit optimistic, it’s Friday.

Sure the tickets seat me closer to the planes overhead than to the field and that our short stop and center fielder aren’t going to play and its anyone’s guess who will pitch the 8th.

Yes, I know Mets-killer Josh Johnson will probably be on the mound for the Marlins and I am not to confident that we will not lose another man along the way.

Despite all of this and the dark cloud that sits over Citi Field, I know that on the morning of Monday, April 5th, I will wake up and the day will feel different. Baseball will be back and for the first time in 9 months, I will see a Mets game that actually means something.

In three weeks, I will be sitting in Citi Field on a Monday afternoon. What a life.

Let’s just hope it doesn’t snow.

Can the Mets Survive

11 Mar

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By Jim Walters

It is very possible that the Mets may play until May 15th without their star center fielder and shortstop. This makes up 37 games, almost one-fourth of their schedule. While they will play their first 16 of 22 games at home in Citi Field, can the line-up produce enough to keep up with a pitching staff that most expect to be shaky at best.

The probable line-up with Cora at short and Pagan in center will look like this:

Pagan, Castillo, Wright, Bay, Murphy, Francoeur, Cora, Barajas.

Not murders row by any sense of the imagination. This line-up will demand that the Mets  pitch well. With question marks making up the rotation from number two to five, as well as anyone’s guess for who will pitch the 8th inning, this team is in serious trouble with 24 days to go until Opening Day.

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.

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.