How Should The Mets’ Rotation Order Go?

As pitchers and catchers get going in Arizona and Florida, reporters no longer have to ink their annual rankings for teams and positions. Now they can focus on seeing if their prognostication will come true.

When it comes to pitching, just about everyone: ESPN’s Buster Onley, Paul Casella of MLB.com, Grant Brisbee of SB Nation and Ted Berg of For The Win, has weighed in with the obvious – the Mets have a great rotation.

noah-syndergaard-matt-harvey-jacob-degrom-pittsburghI don’t think it’s necessary to add up all the different rankings and calculate the mean…everyone has the Mets with one of the best rotations in all of baseball.

While most articles focus on the starting pitchers, Anthony Castrovince of Sports on Earth took it one step further – his rankings were for the entire staff, from the No. 1 starter to the man assigned to close the door in the ninth and everyone in between.

But while that’s interesting in the moment, few seem to focus on the actual order of the proposed best rotation. Noah Syndergaard has already stated to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York that he wants to pitch in one of the first two games of the season against Kansas City.

“Of course. I think everybody would want to pitch in one of those two games,” Syndergaard said. “I think it’s going to be a little bit different — very intense. I’m not really sure what to expect. But it’s going to be fun. And I’m looking forward to it.”

Read the full article on Mets Merized Online.

Fear the Fish?

Maybe it’s an East-Coast bias or the fact that we view everything with an orange and blue tint, but despite a pitching staff considered one of the best in the league there are as many pundits picking the Mets to repeat as division champs as there are picking them to miss the postseason.

USA Today’s Gage Lacques has the defending National League champions finishing a game out of the final wildcard spot behind the Los Angeles Dodgers. Big League Stew’s Mike Oz says Fangraphs estimates they’ll be in a three-way tie for that final playoff spot with the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Washington Nationals v Miami MarlinsBleacher Report’s Danny Knobler takes it one step further, predicting the Mets will miss the playoffs entirely because the Miami Marlins will do what many observers thought they would achieve last year and make the postseason.

This would clearly throw cold water on the budding Nats-Mets rivalry, one that I think is a media-driven creation – somewhat similar to the Mets-Phillies rivalry that doesn’t exist. I hate the Phillies, like most Met fans, but there’s no real reason for that hate.

Any Met fan has good reason to hate the Marlins. Just go back a decade to 2007 when Tom Glavine took the mound with a chance to return to the postseason. Adam Rubin, then with the Daily News, reported how the left-hander was rocked in the first inning to complete an epic collapse that saw them slip from first after owning a seven game lead with 17 games left.

Yes, the Phillies won the division that year. Yes, they won their last seven games against the Mets that year. But if the Mets win Game 162, they’re in the playoffs and the Marlins made sure they weren’t. They followed up the following year, closing Shea Stadium and knocking the Mets out of the playoffs again.

Read the full article on Mets Merized Online.

A Glimpse Into The Future

Using the TARDIS, I was able to journey into the near future and take notes on the first month of the New York Mets season. But be forewarned! Any attempts to profit with the information (i.e. bet on it like Biff Tannen in Back to the Future II) will likely alter the results (like in Hot Tub Time Machine).

April 3 – at Kansas City

The baseball world begins tonight with the two teams that ended last season. The defending World Champions host the reigning National League champions on Sunday Night Baseball. The Mets, truly embracing the 30-year anniversary of the 1986 team, take the field wearing wigs, masks and set Hotfoots on the unsuspecting opposition.

This infuriates the Royals, but they can’t take revenge against Jacob deGrom, who cruises to a 2-1 win.

April 5 – at Kansas City

Syndergaard Noah

The media pepper Noah Syndergaard about his comments last year and he doesn’t back down. Taking the mound, his first pitch to KC SS Alcides Escobar is just a bit outside. However unlike Ricky Vaughn, Thor’s next pitch starts outside, but edges the outside corner. Then he brushes back the leadoff hitter with a 101 MPH fastball, but follows with a curve for his first strikeout.

The Norse god collects 12 strikeouts through seven innings, but gives way to Hansel Robles. Alex Gordon greets him with a fly ball and immediately Yoenis Cespedes races back in center. He keeps going and channeling his inner-Bo Jackson, runs three steps up the wall and comes back down…nowhere near the ball, that dropped into shallow center for a triple. KC wins 4-2.

April 8-10 – vs. Philadelphia

Cespedes won a bet with manager Terry Collins when the team finished spring training in Las Vegas and spends April 6th and 7th in Augusta, GA at the Masters. He’s back in time for the home opener as Matt Harvey takes the mound to a sea of fans wearing masks from the Dark Knight films. They’re not disappointed as Harvey K’s 13 in a 5-1 win.

David Wright, Lucas Duda, Neil Walker and Steven Matz all hit home runs in a 10-4 win on Saturday. While walking out to the mound, Bartolo Colon trips and accidentally loses his bubble gumHe’s knocked out by the third and the Mets lose 8-5.

April 11-13 – vs. Miami

DeGrom is dominant again, but leaves a pitch up for Giancarlo Stanton. Cespedes runs up the wall again, but the ball is well into the stands. Jose Fernandez makes it stand up as the Marlins win 3-2. At 3-3 on the season, the back page of the New York Post calls for Collins to be fired. The Mets win the next two game behind Wilmer Flores’ three doubles and 5 RBIs.

April 15-17 – at Cleveland

travis d'Arnaud

A huge Drew Carey Show fan, Travis d’Arnaud searches for landmarks like Winfred-Louder department store and how Carey ever dated and married Kate Walsh. Kevin Plawecki fills in, going 3-for-5 and picking off two runners as the Mets open the road trip with a 6-3 win.

Colon visits one of his favorite dining spots in the Sixth City and Sean Gilmartin, scheduled to make the Sunday start, gets sick. He’s replaced by Logan Verrett, who helps complete the sweep as Addison Reed, Antonio Bastardo and Jeurys Familia combine for a 7-0 shutout.

April 18-20 – at Philadelphia

Flores, who’s already started at 2B and 3B, makes his first professional start at 1B and proceeds to go 4-for-4. The following day, he starts at SS with Thor on the mound and makes a Web Gem with an over-the-shoulder catch down the left-field line. With the Mets looking for a sweep and an 8-game winning streak, Harvey goes into the 8th with a no-hitter. After walking the first batter, Collins calls on Jerry Blevins to face Ryan Howard. He gets the slugger to ground into a double play, but the no-no is spoiled when Familia attempts a quick-pitch and gives up a single in the 9th of a Mets 5-0 win.

April 22-24 – at Atlanta

The Daily News back page headline on Thursday reads “Philly Cheesy-Metstake” about Collins decision to remove Harvey and says Sandy Alderson needs to fire him to reach the postseason despite the team’s 11-3 record. They quote an unnamed source close to the team saying, “We’d be 13-1 if not for (Collins).” A day later, the News publishes a small note near the classified section that admits the ‘unnamed source’ was a groundkeeper ‘close to the team’ locker room.

Curtis Granderson decides to visit all the clubs listed in Jermaine Dupri’s ‘Welcome to Atlanta’ and is a late-scratch. Collins moves Cespedes to RF and he throws out two runners, including one at first base. But Matz is knocked around and the Mets lose the opener. Colon and Gilmartin pitch well the next two days, Flores goes into RF on a double-switch and hits a game-winning single as the team improves to 13-4.

April 25-27 – vs. Cincinnati

Alderson sandy Terry collinsA scheduled off-day for Wright, Flores is written into the lineup but the umpire reads an ‘8’ on the card and sends him to CF. Forced to start the game there, he makes a diving catch in right-center before switching places with Juan Lagares, who was at 3B. After the game, Collins admits Granderson was showing him pictures from ‘Magic City’ in Atlanta (NSFW) when he was making the lineup and was distracted.

Newsday’s back page shows Collins dressed as Dopey. The Daily News goes with Inspector Gadget due to the varied lineups and labels Alderson as ‘Brain’, the intelligent dog that helps with everything. All three papers call for ownership to step in and fire him. Meanwhile, the Mets sweep the Reds thanks in part to Asdrubal Cabrera’s 10-game hit streak and Lucas Duda’s HR splurge of 5 in three games.

April 29-May 1 – vs. San Francisco

Since deGrom, Thor and Harvey pitched against the Reds, the Post blasts Collins for not lining up his rotation for the team’s first true test of the season. Matz goes out on Free Shirt Friday and scattered 6 hits over 6 innings, going 3-for-3 at the plate. He’s removed to start the seventh, part of a double switch that sends Flores to LF.  Hunter Pence hits a bases-clearing double over his head and fans in the corner throw their shirts on the field. Flores uses one to wipe his tears, then sends everyone home happy with a walk-off home run two innings later.

The streak ends at 12 wins when Colon is roughed up early. To avoid overusing the bullpen, Flores pitches the final two innings of an 11-6 loss and the Mets close the month with a 17-5 record, just a game ahead of the Washington Nationals (17-7) in the NL East.

Platooning From A Position of Strength

2 granderson darnaud

I was watching MLB Network this morning as they did a replay of yesterday’s episode of ‘MLB Now’ with Brian Kenny. Dick Scott, the Mets new bench coach, was on the phone. The questions were about prospects and was there anyone he considered able to assist the major league team this season.

The former Director of Player Development made a great point. While farmhands like Matt Reynolds and Dilson Herrera might be called up this season, someone like Amed Rosario or Gavin Cecchini could get a September callup and Dominic Smith is a year or two away…there’s just no room in Queens.

This is the first time I can remember when the Amazin’s head into Port St. Lucie with just about everything already locked up. There are no position battles on the horizon and the only true question is who will support Jeurys Familia, Jerry Blevins, Addison Reed and Antonio Bastardo in the bullpen.

But even as I write that, I realize that there’s maybe two spots available between Hansel Robles, Josh Smoker, Dario Alvarez and Rafael Montero. And that’s not mentioning the fact that roster spots will eventually be needed for Zack Wheeler, Jenrry Mejia and Josh Edgin.

Face it Mets fans, we’re rooting for a team with a plethora of major league talent and with more quality position pieces on the horizon.

Read the entire article on Mets Merized Online.

Where does it say that Money is the Answer?

I grew up a Mets fans surrounded by Yankees fans. But since my childhood was in the 1980s, those Yankee fans weren’t nearly as loud about the greatness of their franchise at that time. Fast-forward to the 1990s and Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams and Joe Torre. Mix in a dash of unfulfilled promise, like the hope/hype of Generation K, and you get the foundation for a fan base convinced that the glass is half-empty.

edgardo alfonzo

The 1998 Yankees were wire-to-wire World Series Champions. They did trade for Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez and Chuck Knoblauch and signed David Cone and David Wells. But the core of the team – Jeter, Williams, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera – were acquired via either the amateur draft or amateur free agents.

They had the second-highest payroll in the league behind Baltimore, who finished fourth with 79 wins. Meanwhile the Amazin’s, who had the eighth-highest payroll, finished second in the NL East and missed the lone wild-card spot by two games.

The amateur acquisitions on that roster include Rey Ordonez, Edgardo Alfonzo and Butch Huskey. The core of that team – Mike Piazza, John Olerud, Al Leiter, Rick Reed, Brian McRae – all were free agents and/or traded for.

The point: It was a team that wasn’t built to last.

Fast forward nearly 20 years to today. The Yankees are still near the top of the payroll list, but the Mets are somewhere in the middle. Last year, small-market cities like Milwaukee, Colorado and Cincinnati all started with higher payrolls…

But please remind me who the defending National League champions are?

Read the entire article on Mets Merized Online.

Bridging the Minority Manager Gap

Pedro LopezMajor League Baseball currently has four minority GMs – Dave Stewart of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Farhan Zaidi of the Dodgers, Al Avila of the Detroit Tigers and Michael Hill of the Miami Marlins. Ken Williams of the Chicago White Sox is the only minority vice president of baseball operations and Fredi Gonzalez of the Atlanta Braves and Dusty Baker are the lone minority managers.

To many, this might not seem important at all. But with 41.2 percent of players in 2015 being people of color according to Sports Business News, it should be. It’s something that’s clearly gotten the attention of the commissioner.

“You’re going to have peaks and valleys in terms of representation within what’s a very small sample; there’s only 30 of them out there,” said MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to the Associated Press back in October. “Having said that, we are focused on the need to promote diversity, not just African-American, but Latino, as well, in the managerial ranks.”

Read the entire article at Mets Merized Online.

 

Who Has The NL’s Best Rotation?

degrom harvey syndergaard

Scott Kazmir was part of one of the worst trade deadline deals in recent history. Let me refresh your memory (or pour salt in an old wound).

With the Mets six games out of first and in fourth place in the NL East, GM Jim Duquette sent the Mets’ first round selection and top prospect AND a minor pitching prospect to Tampa Bay for Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato.

Zambrano showed flashes of being a decent pitcher as a rookie in 2001, going 6-2 with a 3.16 ERA after a mid-season call-up. But SI’s Jeff Pearlman wrote how in 2003, Zambrano led the American League in walks, wild pitches and hit batsmen. Fortunato pitched in 15 games in 2004, two more in 2006 and hasn’t been heard from since.

Hindsight is always 20/20 and others like Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors have already questioned this trade, including a MMO Fan Shot from 2012, so I won’t go in depth on my dismay except to question why the team didn’t just bring him up to the majors…

Read the entire article on Mets Merized Online

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