What if David Ortiz played on the Mets?

PapiThe Mets seem to be notorious for trading away good talent for little in return, not trading for someone who could have made a difference, and keeping players who should be traded too long. While there are a number of players who fit into each one of these categories, I would like to focus on one in particular: David Ortiz. Yes, David Ortiz, the man who is getting ready to retire at season’s end, could have been traded to the Mets in 2002. Why was he not traded? Well, the Mets were too caught up on Ortiz’s bad knee, and decided to pass on him and take a chance on Tony Clark. Clark ended up having a terrible season, hitting .232/.300/.472, and Ortiz hit .288/.369/.592. Clearly, Ortiz would have been the better option in 2003, but what about beyond? How would the Mets have faired with Ortiz at first base? Would there be a third championship in the Mets organization?

To start things off, let’s discuss age. In 2003, Ortiz played his age 27 season. This means he was entering his prime, and would stay in his prime for the next few years. We all know what Ortiz was able to accomplish in his prime, so just imagine if he was with the Mets! From 2003-2008, the length of Ortiz’s prime years, the Mets went through four first basemen, the best of which was Carlos Delgado from 2006-2008, and none of them were able to accomplish what Ortiz was able to do with the Boston Red Sox.

While playing in Boston, Ortiz has brought three World Series championships to the city. During the same time period, the Mets have made the World Series once and made the post season twice. The Mets also suffered two major collapses in 2007 and 2008, and the Red Sox only suffered one collapse in 2011. Ortiz became the pride of Boston for a number of years, and is regarded as one of the best players ever to play with the organization. He has hit 445 home runs during his time in Bean Town, and kills the Mets every time the teams match up.

So what if Ortiz played with the Mets? For starters, he probably would not have played in New York past his age 32 season, but in that seven year span he would have owned New York sports. Defense had not been looked upon so intensively in mid-2000’s, so it makes sense that Ortiz would have stayed with the Mets through the 2010 season. Therefore, he would have made his impact with his big bat…and it would have been great! The power of Ortiz would have led the Mets to multiple division titles, and I believe the Mets could have won two or more World Series during the time span (especially 2006 and 2007). Ortiz never would win any MVP’s in the National League, but he would be a staple in the top 10 for multiple seasons.

If the Mets had traded for Ortiz, the entire history of the Mets would likely have been very different. There would be no heartbreak from 2006-2008, and Mets’ captain David Wright would likely be wearing a few World Series rings on his hand.

The baseball pendulum: the lack of offense, free agency, and buying championships

Generic_Mets_Logo_2In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, there were three big factors in Major League Baseball: offensive production, big names hitting the free agent market every year, and the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox spending more money than imaginable to win championships. Nowadays, there are three new big factors in Major League Baseball: pitching dominance, long term deals/extensions preventing big names from hitting the free agent market, and small market teams making it far into the post season. Many fans of the sport have become extremely upset over these new factors, and for good reason too! Lack of offense means less attraction to the sport, and few big names hitting the free agent market leads to less offseason interest. The only thing that has proven to be a positive factor is the disappearance of buying championships, but even that is bound to eventually make a comeback! However, it is important to note that Major League Baseball works like a pendulum, everything may seem to be going in one direction now, but it is only a matter of time before everything completely changes.

Lack of offense: One of the biggest concerns in all of baseball right now is the lack of offensive production by the players. Production is at the lowest it has been since the 1968 season, which was when the MLB lowered the mound from 15 inches to 10 in order to give batters more of an edge. Talk has been made about introducing a designated hitter into the National League, but that seems to be gaining no traction within the commissioner’s office. Many fans cannot even fathom where this sudden loss of offense came from, but the answer to that is one that will make those people shake their heads and wonder how they missed it. The answer: because in 1990’s and early 2000’s, there was too much offensive production. That’s right! The large amount of offense from about a decade and a half ago is the reason for the little amount of offense in today’s game. Why? Well, during that time period, there was a need for pitching. Therefore, parents began to teach their children to pitch, and these kids were marveled by coaches and scouts. If you think about it, many of the most dominant pitchers in baseball today are in their 20’s. It can be assumed that these players started playing around the age of five or seven, which in turn means that it took them about 15 years to get to the big leagues (putting them in their 20’s). Now, there is a call for greater offense to hit these young pitchers, so parents will focus more on teaching their children to hit. If these kids are about five or seven now, when they reach the big leagues in 15 or so years, they will provide a major increase in offensive production. Yes, it is upsetting that it will take so long for offense to come back in the game; but when it does, there will be a plethora of it. At that point, we will all be idolizing pitching again, which is why in 30 years, we will be right back where we are now.

Free agency: Ok, I know what you are thinking: in what way is free agency a problem in today’s game? This year, there are many big names, and that has been the case for a long time. To that, I happily say: Correct, but not for long! Youth is the prized possession in baseball, and every team has been, or is in the stage of, building up their farm system. Older players are traded in return for prospects, and it has become difficult for some free agents to find places to sign, especially if they are 33 or older. When these prospects are brought up, they are quickly signed to long-term deals, and become tied up with their organization for a majority of their careers. When these contracts are over, teams will have no problem letting the player go, and bringing up someone else to fill the void. This can even be seen today: When was the last time a big-name free agent resigned with their team? Instead, teams like the Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros, etc. have let these players sign bad contracts with big market teams, and have used their farm system to take the players’ places. So when does the pendulum kick in? Well, it is only a matter of time until more players pick up on this and demand change. Take Giancarlo Stanton for example. Stanton signed a $300 million contract extension with the Miami Marlins last offseason, but he is not going to make a majority of the money until 2018, a year in which he will make $25 million. After that, he will make more and more money until a $32 million peek from 2023-2025, and while this may seem like a large amount of money for a baseball player right now, it probably will not be by those years. Every year, contracts get more and more expensive, so it is reasonable to think that in less than 10 years, the average salary for a player will be in the high $20 million to mid $30 million. What does this have to do with the pendulum though? Well, players will begin to figure out what teams are doing, and will not sign such long-term contracts. This will lead to too many players needed to be brought up through the farm system at once, and teams will become desperate to sign free agents. This may already be happening with Jose Fernandez and the Miami Marlins, and it is only a matter of time before big names hit the market once again.

Buying championships: I’ll try and keep this one short and sweet, mostly because this example goes hand-in-hand with free agency. The days of the big market teams dominating the postseason are over. This past postseason, there were only four teams who were in the top 10 in payroll, and none of them made it to the World Series. Instead, it was the Mets (21 overall) and Royals (16 overall), both of whom fell within the bottom half of 2015 payroll. So what happened? Well, the teams who have been finding the most success recently are ones who have rebuilt their farm systems over the past few years. They have developed the talent to win ballgames instead of going out and spending their money on ugly contracts. However, when the free agency revolution begins, baseball will once again become a sport filled with successful teams who hold big payrolls.

Baseball can be a tricky sport to follow. A majority of fans want to see offense and big names hitting the free agent market, but that is not going to happen for a while. The pendulum is on its way up, and will not reach its peak for probably a good three years or so. However, when it comes back down and changes sides, offensive production in the game will be a promising all-time high, and free agents may be some of the greatest players of all time.

MLB GM Project: Washington Nationals 2015-16

Ok, so things did not exactly go as planned for the Nationals under my reign as General Manager. My idea was to trade Jayson Werth, Danny Espinosa, and my entire bullpen and sign key free agents. My only problem: nobody wanted anyone I had offered. I did make a few trades, and was able to obtain Ian Kinsler in order to fill a vacancy in the middle infield. I also received Brian McCann and Joe Girardi from the Yankees, so I did not have to go out and sign a new manager in place of Matt Williams.

My starting rotation may have lost some of its edge, being that I lose Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann, but it does still hold three aces and a solid number four man. The order of the rotation will likely be as follows:

1. Max Scherzer
2. Steven Strasburg
3. Scott Kazmir
4. Tanar Roark
5. Erik Davis.

If all goes well, this rotation could win about 52 games, and I would not be shocked if Scherzer were to win his second Cy Young Award in three years. Davis has potential to be a break out star, and if Roark can summon his inner 2014 self, he should have no problem facing some of the toughest lineups in the game (which in terms of this project is probably the St. Louis Cardinals).

Despite Papelbon still having a spot on my roster, I believe the bullpen is pretty strong for the Nationals. After all…how could it not be with Wade Davis as my closer and Greg Holland as my setup man?! I also have Dillon Gee and Jennry Mejia written in as non-roster invites, and Casey Janssen should hold strong in 2016. At the moment, this is how my bullpen is shaping up:

1. Casey Janssen
2. Aaron Barrett
3. David Carpenter
4. Jennry Mejia (NRI)
5. Dillon Gee (NRI)
6. Jonathan Papelbon
7. Greg Holland
8. Wade Davis

Ok, so there is not too much to brag about, but it should still hold up in 2016. As long as my starters can get through six innings with a lead in tact, the back end of the bullpen should be able to shut the opponent out. Hopefully, by mid-season, Papelbon will no longer be a part of the organization, but until then, he will have to be my seventh inning reliever.

Perhaps the highlight of this Nationals team is the lineup. Not much has changed, but the parts that have will certainly prove to be major upgrades as the season goes on. Defensively, the lineup looks like so:
(C) Brian McCann
(1B) Ryan Zimerman
(2B) Ian Kinsler
(3B) Anthony Rendon
(SS) Danny Espinosa
(LF) Jayson Werth
(CF) Bryce Harper
(RF) Torii Hunter

Pretty strong if I say so myself! With Hunter on my team, he should play a large roll in the clubhouse. He will provide some much needed good chemistry amongst the players: something that is the main reason for an organization winning ballgames. McCann will also play a large roll, because he is an experienced veteran who is respected in the world of baseball. The only weakness in the lineup seems to be the lack of a leadoff hitter, but if the 2014 Kansas City Royals have taught me anything, it is that the stereotypical leadoff man is not needed to win championships. Therefore, my projected lineup has been setup like so:

1. Danny Espinosa
2. Ian Kinsler
3. Bryce Harper
4. Jayson Werth
5. Ryan Zimerman
6. Anthony Rendon
7. Brian McCann
8. Torii Hunter
9. Pitcher

Finally, it is time to analyze my bench. Made up of future stars and experienced veterans, the bench of the Nationals should prove to be a threat when needed. As a group, the bench is set to make about $21,763,584 in 2016, and is made up of the following players:

1. Jimmy Rollins
2. Michael Taylor
3. Nate McLouth
4. Wilson Ramos
5. Matthew denDecker
6. David deJesus (NRI)

I am a believer in having a bench that can help on all calendars in any situation, which is why I love how this one turned out. Rollins can help in the middle in field, and he also brings experience to the club. Taylor and deDecker are both young, athletic outfielders who can also provide pop in a pinch hitting situation. McLouth and deJesus are veteran outfielders who also bring experience and consistency to the organization. Finally, Ramos can serve as a worthy backup catcher when McCann is unable to play being that he is going to be 32 at the beginning of the season.

2016 Nationals Roster  
(SP) Max Scherzer $15,000,000  
(SP) Steven Strasburg $7,400,000  
(SP) Tannar Roark $600,000  
(SP) Scott Kazmir $13,000,000  
(SP) Erik Davis $58,398  
(RP) Casey Janssen $3,500,000  
(RP) Aaron Barrett $514,200  
(RP) David Carpenter $792,349  
(RP) Jennry Mejia NRI  
(RP) Dillon Gee NRI  
(SU) Jonathan Papelbon $13,000,000  
(SU) Greg Holland $2,000,000  
(CP) Wade Davis $5,000,000  
(C) Brian McCann $17,000,000  
(1B) Ryan Zimerman $14,000,000  
(2B) Ian Kinsler $14,000,000  
(3B) Anthony Rendon $2,500  
(SS) Danny Espinosa $1,800,000  
(LF) Jayson Werth $21,571,428  
(CF) Bryce Harper $5,000,000  
(RF) Torii Hunter $6,000,000  
Bench (SS) Jimmy Rollins $11,000,000  
Bench (UTIL) Michael Taylor $478,122  
Bench (OF) Nate McLouth $6,500,000  
Bench (C) Wilson Ramos $3,550,000  
Bench (OF) Mathew denDecker $235,462  
Bench (OF) David deJesus NRI  
       
TEAM TOTAL SALARY: $16,002,459 $178,355,578.00
Manager Joe Girardi  

Terry Collins’ Mets timeline

Terry CollinsThe Mets officially signed Terry Collins for another two years. Collins has been with the ball club since the beginning of the 2011 season, and has had a 402-422 record. There have been many ups and downs with the team, and he has seemed to be on the hot seat for at least one month per season. However, he always made his way through the seasons, and had a good relationship with the media and most fans. Sometimes he was the center of controversy, but he always made people laugh, spoke his mind, and managed his players well. Even when all seemed lost, he would keep the players from giving up on the season. Each year seemed to mean something different from Terry Collins, so it will be interesting what these next two years hold.

2011: When Collins began his tenure as Mets’ manager, hopes were high for Mets fans. The Mets went into the season with big names such as Jose Reyes, David Wright, Ike Davis, Carlos Beltran, Johan Santana, Francisco Rodriguez, and Angel Pagan (just to name a few). However, the results were no good. Beltran and Rodriguez were traded by the Trade Deadline, Davis’ season was cut short by injuries, Wright was putting up the worst numbers in his career, and Santana missed the entire season. The Mets went 77-85 on the year, leading the only true bright spot to be Reyes winning the batting title (which was the first in New York Mets history). But despite all this, Mets fans kept their heads held high, and looked forward to 2012.

2012: With Reyes gone and Pagan traded, the Mets were in for an interesting 2012. Many thought Collins would crack under the pressure of not having a shortstop, but he put Ruben Tejada in the slot, and he actually had a pretty good season at the plate. Thanks to the confidence of Collins and the effect it had on the players, the Mets had some great moments in 2012. Santana pitched the first ever no-hitter by a player in a Mets’ uniform (although it did ruin his career), and R.A. Dickey had a monster season, winning 20 games and becoming the first knuckleballer in history to win the Cy Young Award. Matt Harvey made his debut, and Wright put up some of the best numbers in his Citi Field career. Jon Niese also had the last 10+ win year of his career to this date. All this can be traced back to Collins and his managing style, but the Mets still ended with a losing season, going 74-88.

2013: After two disappointing seasons under Terry Collins, 2013 looked like it was going to be a great season. The Mets won opening day 11-2, John Buck and Marlon Byrd got off to extremely hot starts, and Harvey looked like the most dominant pitcher in baseball. However, the ball club went into the All-Star Break nine games under .500 and things never really picked up. The Mets won just 33 games in the second half of the season, and Harvey was shut down due to what would end up being an injury which recieved Tommy John’s Surgery. Zack Wheeler made his debut against the Atlanta Braves later in the season, and he looked like someone who would be a solid number two behind Harvey for a long, long time. Buck and Byrd ended up being traded, and Mets fans could not even begin to imagine another season under Collins.

2014: With Harvey out for the season, all seemed lost for the Mets going into 2014. Collins was failing to give fans hope, and it seemed as if it were going to be another dreadful year. But the season was not that bad. To everyone’s surprise, Jacob deGrom stepped onto the scene as the next great Mets pitcher, and dominated all of baseball. By the end of the season, there was really only one question: what was better, deGrom’s performance or his hair? But there were also important events that happened off the field in 2014, the most important of which was something that Collins told the media. Towards the end of the season, Collins expressed that the game is not played for the fans, so they need to stop hating of the ball club and booing the players. Collins, who never played professional baseball, was put under a lot of criticism for his comments, and many fans began to protest for him to be fired. But Sandy Alderson did not give in, and kept Collins in charge for the 2015 season.

2015: We all know the basics of what happened in 2015. The Mets had a great season, Collins helped his reputation and healed the wounds between most of Mets fans and himself. But I am going to focus on one thing. This is something that cost the Mets the World Series and turned their amazing closer into a laughing stock. That’s right…I am talking about the fact that Collins has no idea when to make a pitching change. He seemed to have always left pitchers in for one too many at bats. Whether it be Tyler Clippard in a sticky situation or Harvey after giving up a leadoff walk, if not for Collins’ inability to realize when a pitching change is needed, the Mets may, and probably would, have been 2015 World Series Champions.

Yesterday at about 4:30pm, it was leaked that the New York Mets have extended Collins for two more years. That’s right…we are stuck with him through the 2017 season! He is the oldest manager in the big leagues, and although he is a baseball lifer, it still seems he has a lot to learn.

Who has tonight’s edge: Johnny Cueto or Jacob deGrom?

New York Mets play the New York Yankees in New YorkAfter this morning’s 5-4 Kansas City Royals victory over the New York Mets, game two of the 2015 Major League Baseball World Series will begin tonight at 8:00pm E.T., and it has potential to be fantastic. The pitching matchup will feature Mets’ ace Jacob deGrom, and Royals’ “ace” Johnny Cueto. Since July 26, the day the Royals acquired Cueto from the Cincinnati Reds, Cueto has gone 5-8 with a .354 ERA and 71 strikeouts, while deGrom has gone 7-2 with an ERA of 2.30 and 112 strikeouts. Needless to say, deGrom has been the better pitcher during this period, but that does not mean he will have an easier time tonight than Cueto.

deGrom: As dominant as deGrom has been so far in the 2015 postseason , he has not had an easy time. Putting himself in a numerous amount of sticky situations, deGrom seems to be mistake away from blowing/giving up the lead to the opposing teams. Sure, he has a low postseason ERA, but he has been throwing a lot of pitches per game. While I do not personally care about how many pitches someone throws in a particular game, it makes a difference how a manager goes about using his bullpen. Being that tonight’s game will be played in an American League park, switching to the bullpen will not be as easy for Mets’ manager Terry Collins to do. There will be no opportunities to pinch hit for the pitcher, and there will also be an extra batter in the opposing team’s lineup. When deGrom finds himself in trouble, he can usually look in the batter’s box or on deck circle and see a pitcher getting ready to “hit”. However, with the designated hitter in play during tonight’s game, there will be no easy out for deGrom when he is in trouble. Also, deGrom relies on the strikeout, and has a K/9 ratio of 12.2. However, the Royals are not a team who strike out too often, so he will certainly have to readjust to that and pray for the best.

Cueto: Despite his struggles since coming over to the Royals, it is important not to rule out Cueto during tonight’s game. Cueto has had success against the Mets in his career, and the numbers sure do show it! According to the stats on ESPN.com, there are only three Mets who have hit over .300 in their career against Cueto. As a team, the Mets are batting .250/.385/.712 against him with 5 home runs and 16 RBI’s. Also, it is important to note Cueto’s ability to change his windup between every pitch. Although some link this to issues concerning his control, it will certainly have an effect on the Mets, because they are a young, power hitting team who rely on the timing of the opposing pitcher. Cueto also has the ability to come out and dominate, and in a situation such as this, there is no reason for him not to do so. This could very well be his last start before hitting the free agent market, and he will want to show teams all around Major League Baseball exactly what he can do.

Last night’s game was fun, but tonight’s game will be even more so. The pitching matchup has potential to be a baseball fan’s dream. Neither deGrom nor Cueto will give in, and this may end up coming down to which bullpen can limit the opposition more. There is no clear winner looking at tonight’s matchup, so it will definitely be a great one to watch!

What to expect from Steven Matz in Game Four

Steven MatzSteven Matz is one of the best young pitchers in the game, and a key part to the Mets core young pitching rotation. The only lefty on the staff, Matz was given the opportunity by Mets’ manager Terry Collins to pitch in game four of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the same in the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs. In his last start, Matz did not have his best stuff, and if the Mets want to get the World Series as fast as possible, he will have to pitch his heart out for the innings he is given. But what will that line be? Will it be a matter of innings pitched, pitches thrown, or batters faced? And when he does come out, who will take over out of the bullpen?

When facing the Dodgers in the last round of the playoffs, Matz had a final line of 5 innings pitched and gave up 3 earned runs on six hits while striking out 4 and walking 2. Not too bad for a rookie who started enough games to count on one hand during the regular season, but he did get the loss in the game (and yes…the win/loss record of a pitcher does matter). The Cubs, of course, are not the Dodgers, so Matz should have different results than his last time out. The only problem: the Cubs have a better offense than the Dodgers, and they hit lefties pretty well.

When Matz faces the Cubs tonight, I expect him to go about 4.2 innings with 63 pitches. He will allow 2 runs on 3 hits while striking out 3 and walking 1. This is a good line for a pitcher of his skill for the most part, but he will be taken out most likely due to that third hit. As time goes on tomorrow night, Collins will have little tolerance for his pitchers, and when it comes to the fourth inning in what should probably be a tight game, he will have no choice but to take out Matz after allowing a base runner. Although it is not a win or go home game for the Mets, tomorrow night’s game is important being that Matt Harvey, who would probably pitch game five if needed, may not be 100% healthy after getting hit by a line drive back in game one.

After Matz is out, it comes down the bullpen: something that the Mets have struggled with recently. With Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia being the two best pitchers out of the pen, and Addison Reed not too far behind, the Mets will have a few innings they will need to be eaten up by the bullpen. Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese have been used in this series already, and it may be helpful if the Mets show new arms to a young offense. Therefore, Hansel Robles and Erik Goedell could pitch about an inning each, and then Collins could go to a Reed-Clippard-Familia combination.

If the Mets wish to sweep the Cubs tonight, it will be a far from easy task. The Cubs are a great team who will not go down without a fight, and will give it their all at the plate. They hit lefties well, and Matz will need to be able to keep his nerves in check in order to have a successful night.

The four playoff teams with the most to prove

This postseason has been a wild ride so far, but for some teams more than others. Every team has something to prove this postseason. There are currently seven teams left in the 2015 playoffs, and none of them seem to be backing down. But out of these teams come four major story lines. The Mets, Cubs, Astros, and Royals have the most to prove this offseason, and each of them will do everything in their power to achieve their goal. There is a strong possibility that three of these teams will be playing in a League Championship Series come later this week.

MetsLogoDifferentMets: This is the first time since 2006 that the Mets have been to playoffs, and the first time ever at Citi Field. So far, there has been very little to complain about other than the Chase Utley “slide” (notice the air quotes). But what does this postseason mean for the Mets? For starters, it may be the last time the Mets will have Daniel Murphy, Bartolo Colon, and most importantly Yoenis Cespedes on their roster. Next year, the Mets may look like an extremely different team! Whether it is for better or worse, the Mets have a lot to get done this year. Also, the jobs of Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson may be on the line, because this is the first time the team is in the postseason under their reign. The Mets also have not won the World Series in nearly 30 years, and have not won a World Series game in the past 15 years.

Cubs: The Cubs may have more to play for than anybody in this postseason. The Cubs are historically a bad franchise, and that is being nice about it! However, 2015 has been a great year for the Cubs, with Joe Maddon in his first year as manager for the ball club. Chicago’s Lovable Losers will be playing this season to try and erase the Curse of the Billy Goat, and if there was ever a team to do so, it is certainly the 2015 Cubs. Wrigley Field has only ever held one baseball championship victor, and that was the Chicago Federals…not even the Cubs. In fact, the Cubs have never played a World Series game at Wrigley, so they owe a championship to their fans, their city, and their ballpark!

Astros: The Houston Astros were not supposed to be anywhere close to the postseason in 2015. They have been historically bad in recent years, and they were not supposed to be contenders until 2016. But under a new manager, the Astros turned down the noise, and turned on their own. Instead of people talking about how bad they are, people began to talk about how far they may go this postseason. Despite struggles in the second half, the Astros never lost sight of their postseason goal, and got in as the second Wild Card team. They beat the Yankees, and are one win away from beating the Royals. Although some may say their goal was just getting to the postseason, they really have to win the World Series this year. The organization has never won a World Series, and has only played there once, when they lost to the White Sox in 2005. The Astros are playing to win it all, and behind Dallas Keuchel, there is no reason they cannot accomplish that goal.

Royals: The Kansas City Royals surprised the baseball world by going all the way to Game 7 of the World Series in 2014, and this season went into the playoffs with the best record in the American League. So it does not seem like the Royals should have really anything to prove…right? Wrong. The Royals must win the World Series in order to call this season a success. They came within 90 feet of tying up Game 7 last year, and many fans have still not forgiven the ball club. Therefore, it is vital that the team wins the World Series in order to clear the noise from 2014.

Nothing against the other teams left in the postseason, but they do not have as much to prove as Mets, Cubs, Astros, or Royals. The next closest storyline would be the Blue Jays because they have not played in a World Series game since the mid-90’s, but these four ball clubs have much more to play for. This may be a Mets website, but as a fan of baseball, I would like to wish all of the remaining teams good luck. But hopefully the Mets end up on top in the end!

Mets 2015 regular season highlight video

From Opening Day on, there was always a story surrounding the Mets: the surprising hot start, the 11-game winning streak, the worst offense in baseball, the Wilmer Flores almost trade, the Yoenis Cespedes trade, the best offense in baseball, the Matt Harvey innings limit, the list goes on and on! But through it all, the Mets never lost their sights on a first place finish, and that is exactly what they did. They beat the Nationals, the team that was thought to win it all this season, and took all of baseball by storm. Bryce Harper, Todd Frazier, and many others have given nothing but praise to the Mets’ rotation, and the talent goes much further than that. Great defensive plays were made, such as the Bartolo Colon behind the back toss and the Carlos TorresDaniel Murphy kick save, and there were two players with three homerun games this season. Sadly, I could not fit every moment into this personally made 3:13 minute video, but I think it demonstrates just how “amazin’” this season has been. The Mets will face the Dodgers in Los Angeles on October 9. Good luck to both teams, and Let’s Go Mets!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GciEBz8-LFI&feature=youtu.be

New York Mets end of September Bench Report

Mets BenchNearly mid-way into the 2015 season, the New York Mets’ pitchers had a higher batting average than their bench. Think about that…the pitchers were better than the people who are paid to be some of the most clutch players on the roster! It seemed that fans would rather have Jacob deGrom pinch-hit with the bases loaded down by three in the bottom of the ninth than Kirk Nieuwenhuis or John Mayberry Jr. The bench was egregious, and it seemed there was no fixing it. However, the Mets were able to improve their bench as the trade deadline approached, and it is a major reason that they are National League Eastern Division champions.

Instead of having scrappy players on the bench as the season was coming into its most important days, Terry Collins had actual major league talent ready to play. Instead of names such as Nieuwenhuis, Mayberry, Darrell Ceciliani, etc., the Mets bench consisted of Michael Cuddyer, Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, Juan Lagares, and Ruben Tejada. These are players that baseball fans actually heard of, and each of them has been considered a key player at point in their careers.

By having a bench made up of players who were actually game-ready every day, the Mets were able to have faith in pinch hitting for a pitcher and putting in a late inning defensive replacement. The Mets did not have a single pinch-hit home run all season until Uribe, and their bench has been pretty reliable since. Players have come up in key roles, and actually contributed to the team in positive ways. Down the stretch, that is exactly what the Mets have needed.

A bench made up of major league talent also forces the Mets’ starting lineup to play better, because they do not want to lose their jobs and/or get platooned. If Michael Conforto struggled, he knew that Cuddyer or Lagares could swoop in and take his job, so he played his heart out in order to keep his job as a rookie. Daniel Murphy was platooned at one point, and eventually won the job back from Wilmer Flores and Johnson. However, if Dilson Herrera was on the bench instead, Murphy would have probably not been platooned, because Murphy gave the Mets the best chance to win.

In the post season, it is vital that the Mets follow the same method when building their bench. The bench needs to be made up of major league talent that can actually make a difference in a game, rather than scrappy ballplayers who will only get a hit once every ten times at bat. The only questionable talent the Mets need to have on their team is Eric Young Jr., because he brings something the Mets have almost none of on the team: speed. With a bench made up of Cuddyer, Johnson, Uribe, Tejada, Lagares, and Young, the Mets will have a much better chance when playing the Dodgers in the NLDS due to favorable matchups against Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

An exclusive interview with Mr. Baseballs: Zack Hample

Zack HampleIf there was a contest on who could catch the most fly balls in the stands of a baseball game, Zack Hample would far and away be the winner.  Hample has caught a countless number of historical home runs, including Mike Trout’s first, Shea Stadium’s last, and Alex Rodriguez’s 3000th hit.  This past weekend, I had the opportunity to interview him about both his baseball collection and himself.  Contrary to what has been popular belief due to his resisting of giving Rodriguez his 3000th hit, Hample is one of the nicest people I have ever met.  He is passionate about the game, and was even a Mets fan growing up!  Below are some of the questions I asked and answers he gave me from our interview.

Q1: What is your favorite team?

A: I don’t have a favorite team.  I grew up as a Mets fan and I still like a lot of their players and actually know some of them personally, but having been to 51 different major league stadiums in my life, I think I’ve gotten a bit jaded and I just find myself rooting more for individual players and appreciating the sport than really following any one particular team.

Q2: Do you have a favorite player in baseball?

A: I’ve got to go with Mike Trout, which I know sort of sounds like a dumb, obvious choice but I feel extra connected to him because I happened to catch his first career home run, back in 2011 in Baltimore, and I had a nice interaction with him and his family at that game and after the game, and he’s remembered me since then.  We’ve crossed paths a few times at numerous stadiums and…yeah, I think I have to go with Mike Trout right now.

Q3: You mention that you caught Trout’s first home run ball.  What is the most memorable home run ball you have caught?

A: I think the most memorable and my absolute favorite is the last home run that the Mets ever hit at Shea Stadium.  To me, that’s more meaningful in a lot of ways than Alex Rodriguez’s 3000th hit, which was obviously huge and more historic in the grand scheme of things, and got much more attention.  But getting attention for this is not really my goal.  I know this sounds weird because people see me all over the place and get sick of me, but…this all just started as a far fetched childhood dream…to catch one baseball.  It’s kind of grown over the years, and it’s becoming this crazy thing at this point.  Having grown up as a Mets fan and having gone to more games at Shea Stadium than any other ballpark, that moment of catching the home run on the final day there was incredible.  It was actually my only home run that I ever caught in Shea Stadium.  I’m sure Mets fans who are old enough will remember that the configuration of Shea Stadium didn’t really lend itself to catching home runs being there were very few seats in fair territory.  You had…one section of seats that extended past each foul pole, so the guys had to hit one right down the line for it to land in the seats and…30 feet high.  Other than that, it was either bleachers, which were closed most of the time or sold to groups, so it was almost impossible to get out there.  And without being in the bleachers it was pretty much pointless to sit right down the line and hope for a home run there, so I spent most of my time hoping for foul balls behind the plate at the lowest level.  I got a lot of them, but I didn’t really start getting out to the bleachers until, maybe half way through the 2008 season.  I guess they were selling some individually and some I was able to get a hold of out there.  I spent a number of games out there in the bleachers, and it was that very last day that I managed to catch that home run so that’s by far the most excited I’ve ever been for any ball.  More excited than I was with the A-Rod ball.  I was more stunned with the A-Rod ball, but in terms of just pure bliss and jubilation, definitely the last home run hit at Shea.

Q4: When did you realize that your ball collection was something special?

A: Well I guess I can point out to everybody that I did get my first baseball ever at Shea Stadium in 1990.  I got four balls that year and fourteen more in 1991 and it wasn’t really until the 1992 season that I started going to games a lot.  I began to get one or two or three at most games, sometimes none but I’d average like one or two balls a game and…I thought I was the man! “Oh my god I’m going to catch a hundred balls before I die.”  Everybody laughed at me, and I ended up getting more than 100 just that season alone, so I thought that was a big deal.  In 1996, I ended up getting my thousandth ball and I got interviewed a little bit for that and I thought it was a big deal.  When I used to get asked if I had caught any important balls I would talk about some of the toss-ups I got from some of the All-Star players or future Hall of Famers.  I thought that was a big deal.  Mark McGwire threw me a ball and Tony Gwynn threw me a ball and Ozzie Smith, and it didn’t even occur to me that…dude stop wasting your time getting toss-ups and catching foul balls, you could be going for home runs.  Of course, my home stadium was terrible for home runs.  Yankee Stadium was great for home runs, but I was too dumb as a child to realize I should be focusing on that.  But it really wasn’t until 2006 when I caught a Barry Bonds in San Diego, which was really one of the first home runs I ever gotten…that’s when it really struck me like oh, damn, there’s a lot of people who keep their eye on this thing.  I realized how fun it is to catch an important player’s home run, and it still even took me a few more years until I started focusing on home runs.  The second half of 2008, I focused on it more and I ended up getting a few milestone home runs starting around that time and my hobby began to keep reaching bigger heights.  I don’t know how it’s going to be possible to top the whole A-Rod 3000 thing, but I’m looking forward to snagging 10,000 baseballs, which will only take me maybe two or three more years.  So, I guess I don’t know exactly when I realized it.

Q5: Is there a player who you have not caught a homer from that you would like to?

A: There’s definitely players I would love to catch home runs from.  David Wright definitely comes to mind first.  I came very close to catching one of his at Shea Stadium and I could have if I were more aggressive.  I was running through the isles in the left field bleachers for the ball, and a little kid wandered out right in front of me while I was running for it and I stopped short because I didn’t want to knock him down.  That cost me a couple of seconds and I missed the ball by an arms length.  If not for that kid, or if I were more aggressive, I would have a David Wright home run ball in my collection.  But I’m hoping to get one of his one day, he still has a number of years left on his contract and I’m often out in left field at Citi Field so I’m hoping he’ll hit one in my direction.  Albert Pujols also comes to mind, as does Alex Rodriguez.  I feel I need to catch another A-Rod home run because I gave the one I caught back to him, and I would like to have one for myself.  Michael Cuddyer, I know is coming up on 200 home runs rather soon, so that would also be a cool one to catch, as would a home run from any player in the World Series.

Q6: How do you think the Mets will end up doing this season?

A: The Mets are definitely making the post season.  I don’t see them cooling off in the next few weeks, because I think the pitching is way to strong.  At the start of the season, I thought the Nationals were going a long way, as did a lot of other folks, but I think the Mets are clearly the superior team in the National League East.  I think they’re going to the playoffs and…it’s hard to predict who’s going all the way once you are in the playoffs.  I think the Mets’ pitching is as good as any team’s pitching, including the Dodgers’ Grienki and Kershaw.  They don’t have a lot beyond that, but the Mets do and I think it will be interesting to see how that all pans out.

Q7: If you could go back in time, who’s home run would you like to see?

A: Wow, that’s a hard one.  I’ve actually never been asked that before, so I don’t know.  I’d probably have to go with something from Babe Ruth though.  Maybe his first home run, maybe his last.  Really any home run of his would be cool…but actually, I think I’d have to go with the Babe’s first home run in the All-Star game.  I believe that was the first home run in All-Star game history, so catching that would be awesome.  I would probably look crazy with a glove in the outfield back in those days, but just the idea of being at that game with the all-time greats playing at the same time would be awesome.

I would like to thank Zack Hample for his time and giving me this opportunity to interview him.  You can check-out his website at www.zackhample.com.

Defending Matt Harvey

2013-matt-harveyMatt Harvey is the ace of the New York Mets, no if ands or butts about it. Sure, he may not be the best pitcher on the Mets’ staff this season, but there is no rule saying a team cannot have two aces. Last night, Harvey pitched against the Washington Nationals, and went 5.1 innings with 6 strikeouts and allowed 7 runs…but that’s beside the fact. When looking at his season statistics, he has clearly been phenomenal considering this is his first season returning from Tommy John’s Surgery. Harvey is one of the main reasons the Mets are where they are today…atop the National League Eastern Division. However, for some reason, nobody has anything good to say about him any more.

The drama concerning Harvey began when he expressed that he was not planning on pitching over 180.0 innings this season. With one start left, if even, Harvey will reach the 180.0 innings limit without a problem, which has raised some eyebrows because of his timing in which he made the comment. Was this the best time to make such a comment? No! Harvey should have said it months ago so the Mets could deal with it before it became such a problem. But why do we have to blow this out of the water? It is not like Harvey has the reputation of saying the right thing at the right time. He has been the center of controversy since his first season in the big leagues, and what makes people think that would have suddenly change?

On Tuesday September 8, a report was published saying that Harvey’s innings limit has been pushed to 200.0 innings including the playoffs. This should have brought happiness to so many Mets fans, because it means their ace will be available more as the season ends and post season begins. But for some reason, Mets fans are still annoyed with the entire situation! Finally…there is a solution to the problem. Harvey can pitch, which will help the team, and increase their chances of getting to and far in the post season! So as a Mets fans, we should all be thrilled that this has happened…

Of course the Mets cannot push him farther than his comfort zone, because he is coming off of a surgery that can affect a pitcher’s career. Coming back from such a surgery the way Harvey has is beyond amazing, and the Mets need to preserve that in order to keep his career on track. Even Jordan Zimmermann of the Washington Nationals, who also had Tommy John’s Surgery in his career, has said Harvey should be pitching far less than number of innings he is set to pitch, and this was not said in a rival way. Believe it or not, players care about each other…no matter what team they are on.

Was Harvey right to say what he did, when he did? Not exactly, but Mets fans need to stop making it into such a negative situation. In fact, perhaps what he said will help the Mets in the post season. Such a big deal has been made about the Mets’ bullpen situation, and a few of their starters need to be put into the pen in order to fulfill a complete playoff rotation. Therefore, why not move Harvey into the bullpen? Imagine a game where a team has to face deGrom for five innings, and then has to face Harvey for two innings, Tyler Clippard for one inning, and Jeurys Familia one inning! The Mets can even move into a Madison Bumgarner World Series Game Seven situation, where Terry Collins starts one starter for only a few innings, and then gives the ball to Harvey to complete the game! Plus, the Mets can still use him as a starter if they would like, because there is nothing saying a relief pitcher cannot make a start if the team needs him to do so.