Archive for SHaMs

Snakebitten, Baby

48Unless you had the good sense to turn in early last early night you know nothing so sums up what the 2016 season has become than last night’s events in San Francisco, when a shocking Met hit with men on base — from Justin Ruggiano of all people, off Madison Friggin Bumgarner of all people, a grand slam to center field, of all things — was given all back and more within minutes — by Jacob deGrom of all people, on a two-run homer by Bumgarner of all people, in a 10-7 loss showing the Mets are practically determined to go wrong even when everything is arranged to go right.

52So don’t get too excited to learn tonight’s contest is expected to include the return of injured soldiers Yoenis Cespedes and Asbrubal Cabrera, and maybe even Neil Walker, because it also accompanies news that scheduled starting pitcher Steven Matz won’t be there, because, naturally, he’s being shut down with shoulder trouble.

When Fred Wilpon idiotically pitied his half-assededly assembled 2011 squad by remarking, “We’re snakebitten, baby,” he was off by five years.

I’m not officially giving up yet — I need something to pretend to root for when I fly my family to St. Louis next week just to see these guys — but it’s clear this edition of the Mets is going to require not just something miraculous, but something it hasn’t satisfactorily demonstrated any ability to do all year: Play well.

66Is there good news? Well, Josh Edgin is getting sent back to the minor leagues where he belongs after that shitshow in Phoenix the other night — again, if you turned in early, he not only walked the whole lineup but evidently was too fat to bother hustling in to retrieve his own wild pitch for a potential play at the plate. In his place is Josh Smoker, who will need a new uni assignment after the 49 he wore in a phantom appearance a few weeks back was taken back by Jon Niese, who like Edgin but hopefully not like Smoker, appears to be a lefty of limited value any longer.

How about we give Smokey 66? That’ll teach ’em. Not Joshin’.

UPDATE: He’s in 59. Naturally.

 

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Mets Hit Wall, Burst into Flames

1The Mets abruptly signed dressed and deployed Justin Ruggiano last night, and the veteran outfielder went out and played like a cliche of a No. 1: Ridiculous leaping catch attempt, overhustling a slow rolling single, foolishly getting thrown out attempting to steal third base with Bartolo Colon batting.

ruggianoWhat a find! And his crumpled body on the warning track a perfect Met-aphor for this wreck this season is quickly becoming now with Jose Reyes out, Juan Lagares out, Cespedes hurting, Duda still missing, Wright long gone, Walker and Cabrera morphing back into middling singles hitters and Conforto and Zimmo and D’Arnaud failing so far to evolve themselves.

And I’m not calling for Terry Collins to be fired or resign but would say the SHaMs struggles these past few weeks has resembled something out of Jerry Manuel’s playbook: A palpable lack of confidence in his guys runs up and down the lineup and in the bullpen, and I think, is contributing at some level to how poorly they are executing at the moments of truth. The fact his lineup doesn’t hit well to begin with is also a factor.

One of the brilliant minds at the Crane Pool crunched the numbers and heading into last night they looked like this:

If the 2016 Mets were to hit with RiSP just like the 2016 Mets hit otherwise [.238, last in the NL] their 148 hits w/RiSP would turn into 174.
Taking that figure and using their present production of 1.486 Runs per RiSP-AB (220 runs produced by those 148 hits) the new figure would result in an extra 39 runs scored over the course of the season to this point. That alone creates about four extra wins on average, turning the current 53-49 record into more like 57-45; the 7.5 games back into 3.5; and the current 84-win pace for the full season into 90

And that’s not even the worst of it, because not only do they hit less often with RiSP but they hit a larger pct of singles in those ABs than their usual (almost 70% instead of 63.1%) with far fewer 2Bs (16.2% instead of 19%) & HRs (12.8% instead of 16.4%). So if those extra hits were in the same proportion as what they produce normally then the runs scored increase would logically get even larger.

This morning we’re 2.5 games out of a Wild Card spot, 7.5 out of first place, 3 games over .500 and its the Trade Deadline. All day yesterday fans were entertaining fantasies of obtaining Jonathan Lucroy along the the rumored relief help we apparently need so bad. (Really? That’s the issue?). My inclination this morning is to see if we can’t dangle Neil Walker, Addison Reed, and dare I say Curtis Granderson with an eye on next season. And if they don’t believe in him enough to offer him to Milwaukee, Travis d’Arnaud too. What’s your take?

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Here Come the SHaMs!

That’s the Second-Half Mets, who are going to need to be considerably better than their first-half counterparts if they want to turn this year into something.

I’m not saying they can’t do that, and I’m definitely not saying I’m not rooting for it, but based on what we saw in the first half, I have my doubts.

21I’d have felt better had the team managed to pierce the 10-games-over-.500 barrier but we only approached it several times before settling back into that 80-something win pace. Nobody seems to be acknowledging the biggest loss for the club was big Lucas Duda, who allowed guys like Neil Walker to bat 6th or 7th instead of 4th or 5th. Duda is a mysterious creature. Do we even know how he broke his back? Is his return even a possibility? I’m skeptical of a strong back half without him or someone as terrifying.

20I like Walker enough, but he’s not a middle-of-the-order guy and he hasn’t been much of a force since April. The Mets have Flores, Hererra, Reyes, Reynolds and Cecchini as potential middle infielders. The Mets have no doubt gotten the better of the Niese-Walker swap so far but you wonder, with the Pirates potentially losing an infielder (Kang) and the Mets a starting pitcher, whether they’d shake hands, swap apartments again and pretend it never happened. Niese has been awful, but throw in a prospect, Pittsburgh, and maybe you have a deal. While you’re at it, would you be interested in a reunion with Antonio Bastardo?

Michael Conforto plummeted even more dramatically than Walker but appears to be regaining his stroke in AAA. His return to form would be a considerable boost. Jose Reyes’ return seems to have interrupted Brandon Nimmo’s shot at becoming the leadoff hitter we were looking for anyway. Referring to my recent failed campaign to outfit Travis d’Arnaud in a new number an MBTN reader made a clever suggestion that I might support in helping Conforto to a better second half:

 

I’m all for it, Eric.

33They say it’ll all come down to pitching in the end and I agree. Matt Harvey’s loss, while disappointing, isn’t a setback for the club inasmuch as he wasn’t doing nearly enough to help them win when he was out there. Do they trade for a reliable 5th starter type (Niese again!) or trust things to Sean Gilmartin, and Seth Lugo and Logan Verrett? Maybe they aim a little higher and come away with a Jorge De La Rosa or Rich Hill. Maybe the injury to Snydergaard is worse than expected and they unload. I guess we have to wait and see.

Finally, my friend Conor captured this video from the National broadcast over the weekend! Go us!

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Observing A Lot Just By Watching

70So I was away in Europe the last week of the season and so completely missed the surprise re-emergence of good old No. 70, Wilfredo Tovar. I also missed the decisive sweep of the Braves that helped us to not only spoil whatever playoff hopes they had left to but catch them in the standings, and Lucas Duda’s heroic capture of the 30-home run mark, and Bobby Abreu’s feel-good retirement, and Sandy Alderson’s new contract. On the positive side, I missed all the incessant Jeter hype.

I further forgot to investigate the suggestion below that at least while David Wright remained active the Mets were running Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 out there on a regular basis, maybe for the first time ever. I didn’t note that the best career ERA ever recorded by a No. 48 now belongs to Jacob deGrom, a deserving Rookie of the Year candidate.

I guess the message of this season might be, It Wasn’t All Bad If You Were Actually Paying Attention. Sure the next step will require a club that makes a lot fewer execution errors than this one did, while scoring a bunch more runs, but its not unrealistic to expect a few good decisions this winter and the continued evolution of the emerging core could accomplish that.

28Nobody asked me, but my guess is that we’ve seen the last of both Dillon Gee and Daniel Murphy. Gee, who had a poor year and a lengthy injury this season, probably doesn’t have enough talent to fit into the staff next season. Everyone loves Murphy, but given his rising price and the fact that we’ve got some Flores and then Herrera waiting, it only makes sense to move on. Perhaps he goes in that big trade for that  outfielder and/or shortstop and/or leadoff hitter this club needs. Stay tuned.

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Let the Mike Baxter Era Begin

23How great is this lousy team? A day after losing Jose Reyes and Daniel Murphy, the banged-up Mets go out and turn a 4-1 lead into an 8-4 deficit, then score 2 in the 8th and 3 in the 9th to walk off a win over Heath Bell and Padres? One star in the comeback was some guy named Mike Baxter, who was recalled from Buffalo today when Reyes was disabled and doubled home a run in his first turn at bat. Baxter it turns out is a Queens native who grew up a Met fan and was acquired from San Diego on a minor-league waiver deal earlier this year. He’s wearing No. 23, the same digits worn a lifetime ago most recently by washout reliever Blaine Boyer and previously by useful reserve types such as Ted Martinez, Tim Bogar and Julio Franco.

Ruben Tejada was back up in Murphy’s slot, still wearing 11 and having a nice game. Other recent moves we failed to mention: Mike Nickeas was back briefly after Carlos Beltran was traded, but he was returned to AAA when Nick Evans (who naturally, cleared waivers again and accepted another assignment with the Bison), was recalled on Saturday.

It’s a shame it’s got to end for Murphy, a real piece of work who probably cost this team three or four games with boneheaded plays alone, but hit and hit and hit and hit, and for that, I forgive. Along with Beltran (and to a lesser degree, Reyes) he made a complete mockery of my pessimism this year. Though even with the team scoring runs beyond my wildest expecatations, the trouble they’d encountered keeping teams like Washington and Florida off the scoreboard early and/or late tells me the Mets probably didn’t have the pitching depth to make a run anyhow. But it’s been a fun season anyway, and even when you think its over, it’s not. Let’s Go Mets!

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Not Half Bad

So here we are at the All-Star Break and I think we’d all agree that getting here with a prayer of contending for the playoffs without Ike Davis, David Wright, Johan Santana, and with Jason Bay having the kind of year he’s having is a kind of small miracle and for that Terry Collins has our gratitude and this team has my admiration. But let’s not kid ourselves: Only a very hot start to the second half is going to make a difference if and when the calvary returns. Sandy Alderson would be a fool not to at least entertain offers for our guys big and small in the meantime and pull the trigger if the returns blow him away. Why not? At any rate, I’m finding it difficult to imagine that the cheap, useful guys (Capuano, Isringhausen, Hairston, Paulino) stick around and I hope we can get out from under the Frankie Rodriguez deal at some point.

In the meantime you haven’t heard a whole lot from me in part because June was an especially light month on the transaction wire for the Mets. How light? Well, according to my roster expert Jason, there were no Met debuts in the month of June at all. Excluding Octobers and the strike-shortened August 1994, it’s only the third month since August of 1993 there have been no Met debuts and the first time since June of 2007 that no new Met arrived.

We are checking in to note the recent return of Nick Evans and salute the poor kid both for his home run the other night and his roachlike ability to remain an option — but never the first one — for the Mets for four straight years now. In each of the last four seasons Evans had at least two separate stints with the team which has got to be approaching a record, thanks in part to twice escaping a claim by other clubs when exposed to waivers this year and subsequently electing to remain with the organization as opposed to trying his luck elsewhere. If he’s not a perfect Met No. 6 nobody is. Cheers, Nick!

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We’ve Been Having Fun All Summer Long

Oh, you SHaMs, you. Way back at the All-Star Break when we naiively dreamed you had a run in you, we speculated it would take at least 45 victories out of the final 75 games for a realistic shot at the postseason, and a sizzling 50 wins to be safe.

To my horror, my anger, and eventually my acceptance, the Second Half Mets went and lost 47 of their next 75. Only a freak 3-game sweep against the mailed-it-in Astros this weekend stemmed the bleeding at 92 losses, and assured the SHaMs wouldn’t reach the magical 50-loss post-all-star-break plateau.

Still, it’s a pathetic showing thoughout, and tragic to have missed such a great opportunity to be the kind of up-against-it underdog the fans could get behind. The question shouldn’t be, “Has any team ever lost so many players to injury?” It ought to be “Has any team ever lost so many players to injury and failed to replace even one of them adequately?” Right? We got Jerry’s passive skippering, a parade of nondescript clockpunchers and a team that until the end preferred to playSchneider over Thole, and anybody over Evans, while even the regulars loafed about, made ridiculously costly errors, threw ball four eight times a night, whiffed with runners on third, bunted in every situation except those that might drive in a run, and indifferently flew out to medium right while while gift-wrapping signature moments for nearly every team they played down the stretch.

Hey, Mets: BOOOOOOO!

Yeah, take that.

It’s obvious that Jerry ought to be fired. He hasn’t gotten though to the players, the team barely had a single good run all year, and his passive managing style (“Hey. let’s go out there and try not to lose!”) drives me crazy and doesn’t work. Omar should have been whacked last season for sitting on his hands while the Mets shanked a second gimmee putt, and the strenuous, reactive fiasco of acquiring not one but two faltering closers last offseason only to see the SS Met spring a few hundred other leaks, many of them completely foreseeable and potentially preventable (starting pitching, Brian Schneider, right field) should be answered for as well.

They won’t be. Instead the Mets are making a show of blaming a development staff for failing to make major-league ready replacements of the 16-year-olds they signed in 2005. That and promising to try and do better. Hey, good luck, Mets!

I’m going to go ahead and name Luis Castillo the MBTN Player of the Year for 2009. He atoned for a bad season in 2008, he committed the signature screwup in a season jammed with them, but most of all, he really loved to bunt. May his example of improvement through desperation revisit the Mets in 2010.

There were 52 53 Mets in 2009, including 26 first-time players. The Number of the Year is 29: Issued to three of those 26 newbies, and one repeater who I’ve   already forgotten was a 2009 Met: Emil BrownAndy GreenRobinson Cancel and Tobi Stoner.

We’ll be back to keep current with the hot stove and other stuff too! For now, go Jets!

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Let’s Go SHaMs!

If Marlon Anderson were alive today, he might be distributing his teammates worksheets with the number 45 written on it. Maybe even 50. Those look to be the minimum of the remaining 75 games the Mets are going to have to win if they hope to have any shot at postseason baseball.

Forty-five wins is an even .600 winning percentage and would get the Mets only to 87 wins for the season; 50 wins would make for a sizzling .667 clip and 92 wins. Ninety-two was the magic figure that Marlon Anderson suggested the Mets shoot for when they were floundering at 30-32 and had 100 games left to play last season: a .620 winning percentage. Then as now, the Mets were in fourth place leading only Washington in NL East. They of course fell short of that goal but it took an extraordinary collapse to do it. The advantage this season? 6.5 games out of first place, instead of 7.5 games back last season.

Tall order? For the Mets, you said it. But in the spirit of giving us all some hope, I’m not putting it past the SHaMs: The Second Half Mets.

Hey, why not? The incremental improvements have already begun: Angel Berroa was last seen hitting .136 and wearing No. 14 for the Yankees. But for the Mets, the 2003 rookie of the year and former teammate of Carlos Beltran, represents a clear improvement over the again-demoted Argenis Reyes and will allow Alex Cora to take the days off he so obviously needs. Anything that gets the Mets back to Jose Reyes better than they’ve scuffled without him so far is real improvement.

Berroa’s promotion hasn’t been officially announced just yet: Easy enough to predict however he’ll be wearing No. 4, which he wore in his glory year with the Royals and is available. (EDIT: Dispatches from Atlanta say Berroa is with the team and is wearing No. 4. Go me…)

From here, we can look forward to additions right through deadline season: Reyes, Beltran, Delgado, Maine. Wagner. A streak or two you know this team might find in it. Let’s Go SHaMs: Fifty to go.

Don’t forget to join me, Greg PrincePaul LukasMatthew Silverman and a barful of hungry Mets fans as Two Boots Tavern presents AMAZIN’ TUESDAY, next Tuesday, July 21 at 7pm. Present a Mets baseball card for your first drink free! Pizza and Rheingold specials, Mets-Nats game on the big screens, memorabilia, giveaways and presentations!

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