Maple Street Press Mets Annual 2011 Review

Yesterday my copy of the Maple Street Press Mets 2011 Annual arrived in the mail. Maple Street Press puts out a host of annuals and they get some of the top names in the blogosphere to contribute to their magazines. The Mets guide features articles by Ted Berg, Toby Hyde, Howard Megdal, Sam Page, Dan Schlossberg and many others. Ike Davis is this year’s cover boy.

The cover is sleeker than a season ago.  Inside, the guide once again features 128 pages, uses all colors and is amazingly free of ads. Content aside, this lack of advertising puts it ahead of virtually any other magazine out there. And as you can imagine, there is a ton of content. Matthew Silverman and Greg Spira, co-editors of the guide, kick things off with an introductory letter and then Silverman does a 2011 preview.

Next up is a full page giving the Bill James projections for individual players for the upcoming season. While last year’s projections also included minor league numbers, this is limited to major league players.  What this does have going for it is the best layout of any chart in the book.  The text is the right size, there’s plenty of information and the color scheme is limited to blue and white.

Then comes the heart of the magazine; a full page devoted to each expected starter. This is one of the nicest parts of the annual. It is attractively laid out and contains a ton of information in the forms of text, charts and stats. At the top of the page is the player’s name and uniform number, which is a nice thing. In smaller type is his age, position and bats and throws information. Next up is his 2010 stat line. On the left side of the page is a nice color action shot, about the height of a baseball card but wider. To the right is an extended paragraph of text on the player.  Unfortunately, the contract information found in last year’s text is missing.

The charts contain some very useful information not easy to find elsewhere. There is a scouting report from 2010 in numerical format, which gives averages for the batters versus all types of pitches, although missing last year’s left/right splits. That’s made up for by including many FanGraphs type stats, like Swinging Strike% and contact percentage broken down by inside and outside the strike zone.  For the pitchers, this section also included additional breakdowns, such as average velocity and ahead and behind in the count outcomes.

The spray zones from last year are gone, replaced by a “Leading Indicators” chart.  More FanGraphs type numbers, but with the inclusion of where the player ranks overall in the category, along with the MLB average for the category – both very useful things.  The categories are: P/PA, Swing %, Contact % and Hard Hit%.  Davis ranked 43rd in MLB with a 19.0 Hard Hit %

Beneath the hit zones is a chart of Strengths & Weaknesses, which shows how a batter did in certain situations. There are four categories for each batter, individually tailored to show presumably his best and worst splits. It shows the player’s split in the category, the MLB average in that split and the MLB rank in that category. For instance, Daniel Murphy had a .398 SLG percentage with two strikes. The MLB average in that split was .290 and he ranked 18th in the category in MLB. The pink and blue theme was here again.

Hit Zones and Pitch Zones both return from a year ago, along with Ground Ball, Fly Ball and Line Drive breakdowns for both hitters and pitchers.  New for this year is the inclusion of HR/FB rates, which is a nice addition.  Unfortunately, the same color scheme also returns, with a player’s hot zone represented by pink.  Nothing says hot for a major league player quite like pink.

These pages are very, very nice. And my reservations about the color choices of pink and baby blue aside, the only thing missing here is raw numbers. The percentages given are handy, but I really wish they would have included the raw numbers, too.

The guide also includes several feature articles, including two on the new front office.  Megdal dives into the Citi Field dimensions while Spira examines Jose Reyes at the crossroads. The magazine also includes previews on other NL teams, a schedule and the team’s 40-man roster as of press time, complete with statistics. This year’s 40-man roster page was much better designed, with shorter margins and minus the blue background.

Hyde once again contributed top-notch minor league articles, including top 10 rankings for hitters and pitchers.  While he had Cory Vaughn ranked too low, these are nicely done, although I missed last year’s list of players 11-20, which were not included in this season’s guide.

One thing that will need to be addressed for next year’s annual is the chart layouts.  The one for the Mets 2010 Draftees was particularly hideous.  It took up way too much space, especially for the amount of information delivered.  And orange should be used in moderation, not splashed over lines that stretch for the entire width of the page.

John Moorehuse delivered a very nice feature on Kingsport, the longest-running affiliate of the Mets.  The Appalachian League team has been with the Mets since 1980 (with a one-year hiatus).  The article includes a Top 30 of Kingsport players, including Aaron Ledesma – everyone’s favorite Irish-Mexican.

The magazine also includes full-page schedules for Buffalo and Binghamton and quick hitters for the other teams in the organization.  And many other articles not listed here.

The annual retails for $12.99 and can be purchased on newsstands or online at https://www.maplestreetpress.com/osindex.cfm?products_id=129&action=buy_now

The guide is well-worth the price and is something to which Mets fans can refer to again and again during the season.

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Mets SP off to a strong start this Spring Training

Last year the Mets got strong pitching from their whole staff, particularly their starters. Many felt they overachieved, and with the loss of Johan Santana for at leas half a season, many expect the team’s starters to perform significantly worse in 2011. But so far in the Grapefruit League, the Mets’ starters are performing quite well.

Let’s start with the Mets’ 2010 pitching numbers. Overall, the team finished sixth in the National League with a 3.73 ERA. Their SP had a 3.80 ERA. But those numbers were skewed by Citi Field, a strong pitcher’s park. If we look at the Mets’ home/road splits, we see the team had a 3.12 ERA at home compared to a 4.36 mark on the road.

Flash forward to 2011 and we see that the Mets are once again receiving strong starting pitching, this time without the benefit of Citi Field. Here is the breakdowns for the five pitchers expected to make up the starting rotation, complete through Chris Young’s start on Wednesday.

Name IP ER HR BB Ks
R.A. Dickey 7 2 1 1 4
Jonathon Niese 6.2 2 1 2 6
Mike Pelfrey 6 2 0 0 1
Chris Capuano 5 2 2 2 1
Chris Young 9 2 2 2 5
Total 33.2 10 6 7 17

Of course, Spring Training stats are often meant to be ignored and even for ST stats, these are pretty small samples. Still, when the starters have a combined 2.67 ERA, regardless of the time period or length, that is a good thing.

The interesting thing is how many of the runs allowed by the starters have come via the long ball. Overall SP have allowed 10 ER and 6 HR. The Mets’ home park in St. Lucie has been traditionally a neutral to good HR park for the Florida State League, a nice change from their normal home park.

The Mets do not figure to have a big strikeout staff and their early Spring numbers back up this belief. But a 2.4 K/BB ratio is very nice, as is the 1.87 BB/9 ratio that the starters have.

All of these numbers should be taken with a huge dose of salt. But instead of focusing about Ollie being Ollie or Beltran being hurt or wondering how much Beltran will be able to contribute this season because of his knees, it’s nice to have something positive upon which to focus.

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Mets Card of the Week: 1976 Topps Randy Tate

1976 TOPPS RANDY TATE

It can be hard to distinguish Randy Tate from the Bobbs and Todds and Webbs and Crams and all the other single-syllabled 1970s Mets’ pitchers of no particular report.

He has just one major league season to his name, during which he went 5-13 with a 4.45 ERA. He was back in Tidewater in ’76 when this card appeared, and never returned to the majors.

What sets Randy Tate apart is the night of August 4, 1975.

I was curled up on an upholstered chair next to a Zenith Stereophonic Hi-Fidelity Floor Console listening to the game leak out of crackly speakers that night. And Tate was dominant.

He was plowing through the Expos order out at Shea, and by the top of the 5th he had struck out 10 and allowed no hits. The Mets had not made any noise against Dan Warthen either, but that changed in the bottom of the 5th when they scored three runs.

Tate made it through the 6th and 7th in less dominant fashion, adding just one more strikeout to his total. But still he had not allowed a hit.

Would the first Mets’ no-hitter be thrown not by The Franchise but rather by a 22-year old kid who came into the night 4-9?

Jose Morales became Tate’s 12th strikeout victim leading off the 8th. But then Jim Lyttle broke the spell with a single. I hissed through my teeth in disgust.

But Tate still had the opportunity to add to the pantheon of Mets’ one-hitters, and when he followed up a walk to Pepe Mangual with a strikeout of Jim Dwyer, it appeared that he was back on track.

Then two men with past/future Mets’ ties derailed him quickly: Gary Carter (single, RBI) and Mike Jorgensen (three-run HR).

By the time the top of the 8th was complete, the no-hitter was gone, the one-hitter was gone, the shutout was gone, and the lead was gone. Expos 4, Mets 3. And that was the final score.

Tate walked out of Shea that night 4-10, but I looked past the record and saw the promise.

The promise turned out to be no more than this one unforgettable game, but sometimes that is more than enough…

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Mets360 Weekly Chat

Welcome to the first edition of Mets360 chat. This will begin today at 1:00 Eastern time and run for at least 30 minutes. Ask any question about the Mets and we’ll do our best to get it answered. Sometimes Firefox has some issues with the chat software, so if you are having troubles viewing the window once the event goes live, try opening it in another browser.

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Mets second base options of the future

Who will be playing second base for the New York Mets this season?

Will it be embattled 15-year veteran Luis Castillo, converted outfielder/ first baseman Daniel Murphy, slick glove man Ruben Tejada or utility man Justin Turner?

It’s doubtful that any of these players will be a permanent fixture at second base with New York, so what does the future hold?

There’s Rule 5 acquisition Brad Emaus. And New York has two decent prospects in the upper levels of the minors in former first rounder Reese Havens and Dominican Jordany Valdespin.

Brad Emaus

In Emaus, New York is hoping to find another Dan Uggla.

Emaus will be 25 on Opening Day and has 87 games experience above Class AA since being drafted in the 11th round in 2007 out of Tulane by the Toronto Blue Jays. He was drafted by J.P. Ricciardi, who is now a special assistant with the Mets.

Uggla was a 5-11, 200-pound infielder with pop and decent plate discipline who couldn’t catch a break in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ organization.

He was selected by the Marlins in the Rule 5 draft, turned 26 during spring training and proceeded to slug 154 homers in five years, becoming the first second baseman ever to homer 30 times in four consecutive seasons. He has played in two All-Star games and snagged a five-year, $61 million contract with the Atlanta Braves this past offseason.

The Mets would consider themselves fortunate if they could get anything close out of Emaus, who has a similar profile to Uggla.

He’s a 5-11, 200-pound right-handed hitter who doesn’t stand out tools-wise, but can hit for average, has some pop and has an excellent command of the strike zone. Emaus has 212 walks compared to 220 strikeouts over four seasons, 425 games and 1,559 at-bats. In stops at Class AA and AAA last season, Emaus hit a combined .290/.397/.476 with 32 doubles and 15 homers with 81 walks and 69 strikeouts in 445 at-bats. He’s 1-for-7 thus far this spring with two walks and a strikeout.

There’s a ton of candidates for the second base job and Emaus, who must either stay with the team or be offered back to the Jays, is no gazelle nor star with the glove. However, if the Mets can look past how he looks in a uniform and can see what he can do in the uniform, they might have a decent offensive option.

Reese Havens

The second of two first-round picks by the Mets in 2008, Havens was selected with the 22nd pick, four slots after first baseman Ike Davis. While Davis skyrocketed to the majors in less then two years, Havens spent most of his first three years on the sidelines watching.

The 24-year-old has been limited to 152 games in three years due to a laundry list of injuries, with oblique and back problems his latest. Havens says he’s ready to go this year, and 2011 could be considered his make-or-break season.

Havens likely will take his potent left-handed bat to either high Class A St. Lucie, where he began last season and played 14 games, or Class AA Binghamton, where he suited up 18 times and hit .338 with six homers and 12 RBI.

Havens is a hitter first, defender second. A college shortstop at South Carolina, Havens made the move to second base last season and still has a long way to go defensively. An excellent chance to gain experience at the new position last season was ruined due to all of the injuries.

Statistically, Havens has the rare combination analysts like; he can hit for average, has some pop and works the count. He has 60 extra-base hits in 570 at-bats with 80 walks – both excellent markers. However, if Havens can’t stay on the field the Mets will never get a chance to see if he could be a possible solution at the unsettled position in 2012.

Jordany Valdespin

The enigmatic Valdespin has had several clashes with coaches, twice resulting in suspensions, but his performance in the Arizona Fall League and raw tools landed him a spot on the Mets’ 40-man roster this November.

The 23-year-old has taken a tour of the lower-level Mets affiliates over the past two seasons, playing at six stops from the Dominican Summer League to the Eastern League.

The lefthanded hitter has hit .277/.328/.406 in his four years and prior to last season had shown very little extra-base potential. His had 25 extra-base hits (16 doubles, 3 triples, 6 homers) in 270 at-bats in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League last season and chipped in 13 steals.

Valdespin followed that by hitting .355 with a .848 on-base percentage in the Arizona Fall League with five extra-base hits and four walks in 76 at-bats. He was 7-for-7 in stolen base attempts.

However, take away his FSL power numbers and Valdespin has demonstrated limited pop, no ability to command the strike zone – he had just 10 walks in 382 at-bats last season – and mediocre stolen base ability.

He’s split time between shortstop and second base but looks like he’ll settle on the right side of the bag.
The 6-foot, 180-pounder profiles as a utility infielder unless he can follow up on his 2010 power numbers and draw more walks in 2011. He’ll likely start at St. Lucie or Binghamton, depending upon where New York decides to put Havens.

Valdespin is 2-for-11 so far this spring with a double, RBI, walk and three strikeouts.

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Using Nick Evans to explain MLB option rules

Ranking right up there with the balk rule, one of the least understood rules in baseball are those pertaining to player options. Each year the option rules determine the fate of many players. This year, several Mets players are out of options and may have a leg up making the major league team out of Spring Training. These include Manny Acosta, Pat Misch and Nick Evans.

In Major League Baseball, Rule 11 spells out how clubs are limited in how often they can send players back and forth to the minors. In a side note – in MLB Rules are designated with numbers, while Articles are designated with Roman Numerals. That’s why it is the Rule 5 Draft, not the Rule V Draft.

Here is a primer on Rule 11:

In general, a team may only keep a player in the minor leagues for three seasons after that player is added to the team’s 40-man roster. Each of those years is considered an “option year” or an “optional assignment.” Thus, in other words, a player is said to have three “options” or “option years.”

• Prior to being placed on a team’s 40-man roster, a player is not considered to be on optional assignment, but simply under minor league contract.
• Generally, once a player is added to the 40-man roster, that player must either be: (1) added to the active 25-man roster for the major league team; (2) placed on an inactive list; or (3) on an optional assignment to the minors. If a player is added to the 40-man roster during the off-season, the team has until the first game of the upcoming season to decide whether the player will be optioned.
• Once the player has spent twenty consecutive days on optional assignment, that player’s “option year” burns. However, it is important to note that during an option year, the player is free to move up and down between the major leagues and the minor leagues, while only burning one “option” for that season, regardless of the number of times that the player moves up and down from the minors to the majors.

This is a good rule for players, as it helps them from being stuck with a club that will not give them a shot at a major league job. The tricky thing is to determine when a player was added to the club’s 40-man roster. Clubs can put players on the 40-man roster whenever they want. However, all players in the majors must be on the 40-man and those in the minors have to be on the 40-man once they reach a certain level of service time.

Players who were 18 or younger on the June 5th preceding the signing of their first pro contract must be added after five minor league seasons. Players who were 19 or older must be added after four minor league seasons.

So, Nick Evans was 18 when he was drafted and signed in 2004. By rule, he had to be added to the 40-man roster following the 2008 season. But the Mets called him up to the majors in May of 2008, so he was added to the 40-man roster during the 2008 season. Evans played with the Mets through June 3rd and then was sent back to the minors. He spent more than 20 days in the minors, thus using one of his option years.

He was optioned again in 2009 and 2010. So there were his three options used. Now, Evans has to be on the major league roster or pass through waivers before he can be sent to the minors. In the past, Evans has perhaps gotten a raw deal from the Mets and now the option rules prevent them from doing this to him any longer.

The fact that Evans is out of options, combined with the fact that he can play first base and both outfield corners (and could at least stand at third base in the event of a crisis) gives him an advantage in making the Mets’ Opening Day roster.

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6’10 Chris Young looks for higher ceiling

“Right now, the life on the ball feels better than it did at the same point last year and maybe the year before, and I’m excited about that,” said the 31-year-old Chris Young, who made just 18 starts (including four last season) for the Padres over the previous two years due to shoulder injuries. “Mechanically, I’m farther ahead right now than I’ve been the last couple of years. I know that. I can see the differences, and part of that is the life on the fastball.

“But I’m not satisfied with it. I still think there’s a lot of room for improvement and the ceiling’s still a lot higher than even where I am right now.”

Source: New York Daily News

*****

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*****

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Mets need a big year from Jon Niese

For the Mets to have a successful 2011 season, it once again has to get the most it can from the starting rotation. After all, the Mets quietly did have a solid rotation in 2010 and placed 7th in the league in ERA (3.70).

We have all heard the need for Mike Pelfrey to establish himself as the staff’s ace after a respectable 2010 campaign.

Another refrain we keep hearing is that in order for the Mets to be successful, R. A. Dickey has got to be more than a one-year wonder

Fans will also point to the return of ace Johan Santana as the key to the season. Factor in the signings of reclamation projects Chris Young and Chris Capuano, and pundits will say the Mets success hinges on the rebound seasons they put forth.

Almost always lost in the shuffle is Jon Niese. So this begs the question, just how important is Niese to the 2011 Mets?

It all depends on which Niese shows up. Will it be the pitcher who was showing lots of promise in July and August, or the one that struggled in September?

For the season, Niese finished with nine wins to go with a 4.20 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. Not too shabby for a rookie. However, what is alarming is the 173.2 innings Niese pitched

That’s a lot of innings for the 23-year-old lefty. Usually when a pitcher approaches the 200 inning mark in a season for the first time, he could be in for a struggle the next year. Niese has never thrown more than 178 in one season, and that was in 2008 when he spent time with two minor league squads (Binghamton and New Orleans) as well as a brief stint with the Mets.

After a couple of injuries, most notably his torn hamstring in 2009, the Mets have been cautious with Niese, as he is their most valuable young pitching prospect. The Mets rebuffed trade offers last spring when his name came up in conversations.

There is a lot to like about Niese.

He is developing quite a splitter, and has an above average curve ball to go with a fastball he locates very well. The one thing in the Mets’ favor, in regards to Niese pitching a career high in innings, is the fact that he is more of a finesse pitcher and not an overpowering pitcher.

Usually it is the flamethrowers who can’t handle the innings increase workload. See the burnout Kerry Wood and Francisco Liriano experienced early in their careers.

While not crucial with a pitcher of Niese’s pedigree, the 2011 season should still be monitored wisely. The Mets should not increase Niese’s innings pitched this year by more than 20-30 percent.

That is the model most clubs follow today.

While, the thought of counting pitches and innings is something the old guard scoff at (think Nolan Ryan), it is commonplace for all organizations to take this “with kid gloves” approach.

The Mets have been diligent in their approach to limiting Niese’s innings and have done it gradually, and at age 23, Niese should shoulder the slight increase in innings this year.

Niese may never be an ace for the Mets, but he will make for an outstanding number two or three-type pitcher someday. What kind of step Niese makes this year could very well be the most important storyline in the Mets’ season.

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Boof Bonser: Forgotten man with unforgettable name

In all of the discussions about the makeup of the Mets’ bullpen, one name keeps getting left out. You would think his first name alone would keep him in the discussion, but Boof Bonser is the forgotten man in this equation. The Mets picked up Bonser on a minor league deal and he’s one of many who are vying to make the team as a reliever.

Bonser was a first-round pick of the Giants in 2000, the 21st player taken in that year’s draft. He was shipped to the Twins along with Nathan and Liriano for Pierzkynski. He’s pitched parts of four seasons in the majors but has never lived up to the expectations of being a top draft pick.

On the surface, his numbers look borderline bad, but Bonser has peripherals which suggest he is a better pitcher than his results show. Lifetime, he has a 5.18 ERA in 416.2 IP, but he has a 4.55 FIP and a 4.31 xFIP, with most of his innings coming as a starter.

Like a lot of pitchers in Mets camp, Bonser is coming off surgery. He went under the knife for labrum and rotator cuff issues in 2009. And if that wasn’t enough, he also had an injured groin which slowed him in 2010. Bonser split time between the Red Sox and A’s last year and did not impress. He lasted just two outings in Boston, where he allowed 4 R in 2 IP. In Oakland he gave up runs in five of his first nine appearances (and four of those were multi-run outings) en route to a 5.09 ERA.

On the plus side, his velocity was just as good as it ever was, as he averaged 91.6 with his fastball, just 0.2 off his career average. And his 9.4 SwStrk% was a career-high. Where Bonser got into trouble last year was with his curve ball, which had a Pitch Type Value of -4, the first time in the majors that his curve was not an above-average pitch.

Bonser pitched two scoreless innings in his first Spring Training outing with the Mets but he still faces an uphill battle to make the Opening Day roster. But Bonser will be a good arm to have in the minors and is someone who will likely appear in New York at some point during the season. Last year eight pitchers who began the year in Buffalo ended up pitching for the Mets.

Finally, Boof is his real name, not a nickname. Well that’s not exactly true. He was born John Paul Bonser (it’s unclear if that’s a reference to the pontiff or the Beatles) and his childhood nickname was Boof. He grew so attached to the name that he had it legally changed to Boof in 2001.

Doug Parker may soon have to update his favorite names of Mets players list.

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Is Bobby Parnell’s roster spot in jeopardy?

This time last year, few expected Bobby Parnell to open the year with Triple-A, figuring he had a bullpen spot locked up. But a poor Spring led to an assignment to Buffalo, where he spent the first two-and-a-half months of the year. Could it be déjà vu all over again for Parnell here in 2011?

Once again, most people have written Parnell’s name onto the major league roster. He figures to be the team’s eighth inning man and primary setup man to Francisco Rodriguez. Plus, with the Mets likely to be careful about the usage of Rodriguez this year, Parnell figured to be the most likely pitcher to benefit, picking up some saves and games finished in lieu of Rodriguez.

Basically, Parnell was in this position almost by default. Yes, he could reach 100 mph on the radar gun but that was seemingly his main claim to the job. Well, that and the fact that there was no one else with closing experience. But now there is.

Jason Isringhausen has come out of nowhere and now has to be viewed as a legitimate threat to not only Parnell and his eighth-inning role, but also his spot on the roster. We know Rodriguez will be on the team. We figure that D.J. Carrasco also has a spot locked up, by virtue of the two-year contract he signed this offseason. It’s a reasonable guess that the Mets will employ both a LOOGY and a long man, meaning that four bullpen spots are locked up.

Taylor Buchholz also signed as a free agent this year with a major league contract. Manny Acosta had a similar ERA and better WHIP last year than Parnell and is out of options. Pedro Beato is a Rule 5 guy and would have to be offered back to Baltimore if he does not make the roster. Throw in Isringhausen and Parnell and it’s now a very crowded bullpen situation.

If Isringhausen is all the way back in his comeback from elbow surgery, he could fill the role of eighth inning man and be the backup closer for Rodriguez. While no one else had closer dust sprinkled on their resume, Isringhausen has 293 lifetime Saves. That could add up to big trouble for Parnell.

Because let’s face it, Parnell is a glorified ROOGY at this point in his career. Last year LHB had a .327/.364/.442 mark against him. It’s great that he can throw so hard and get lots of strikeouts. Those are extremely important for a short reliever. But it’s also important to be able to get out anyone who steps to the plate. Do you really want Parnell facing Ibanez, much less Howard or Utley if the game is on the line in the eighth inning?

If Isringhausen is productive, it seems likely that he will make the team. That makes five bullpen spots locked up for Opening Day. That would leave Parnell in with Acosta, Beato and Buchholz fighting for the last two spots.

So, Parnell cannot repeat his mistake from last year, thinking he has the team made in Spring Training. He has to go out and get results. He gave up four hits and a run in his first outing, which covered two innings. That outing is not horrible, but Parnell needs to improve if he wants to be with the major league club in Florida for Opening Day, rather than waiting a week to open against the Syracuse Chiefs with the Bisons again.

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Buy the Mets for $999

New York Mets fans are a passionate bunch. We have no problem griping about how Jerry Manuel couldn’t manage a bullpen, Carlos Beltran struck out to end the 2006 playoff run or sending in Oliver Perez is the equivalent of raising the white flag.

But one fan is leading a charge that just might give others some control over the team.

Long Islander Jim Preissler wants to borrow a play from the Green Bay Packers playbook and sell public ownership rights for $999 apiece.

“The other goal for all of this is to provide transparency of the ownership back to the fans. The fans would have a voice on how the team progresses going forward. That would allow a lot of these outside interests to be minimized and focus on creating the best team,” he said.

Preissler, 39, grew up watching the Mets with his grandfather. Now an investment banker specializing in helping companies go public on stock exchanges like NASDAQ, he roots for New York teams, although he tends to favor the Mets.

He and two friends, including a non-Mets fan living in Dallas, were handling some transactions earlier this year when they learned about Mets owner Fred Wilpon’s financial ties to scam artist Bernie Madoff. Madoff Trustee Irving Picard sued Wilpon over $1 billion in damages, while the team owner said he owes much less or nothing.

“We’ve done some particular transactions, structures that would be applicable here to potentially solving a lot of the Mets problems,” Preissler said.

They believed fans could own at least part of the team. That would provide extra money should the Madoff debacle sap the Wilpon’s accounts, while adding more transparency in ownership and an opportunity for fans to make money.

Their next step was to test the market. BUYTHEMETS.com went live in the middle of February for fans to sign up, but the demand was so high it actually knocked the website offline for a while.

“I guess it wasn’t made to handle so many concurrent registrations at the same time,” he said.

Preissler said the numbers proved the demand existed, although he refused to disclose specific figures. More could have registered, he added, had the site stayed online.

The website remains active, but the trio has since contacted investment bankers with Wilpon’s Sterling Equities with the idea. They had not responded as of Thursday, although Preissler expected to hear back before long.

“I already have top lawyers and auditors in place. The real key here is getting the Wilpons and their bankers to understand the benefit of going down this path,” he said.

No details of their proposal have been released, as the Northport resident said they have several options. Fans could repurchase debt and receive interest, they could buy a stake in the team itself or they could mix and match.

What Preissler did confirm was that he wants to use publicly-traded stock to accomplish whatever their plan ends up being.

“There are some other quicker options, but I think that is the cleanest, most effective path. I have a potential plan B and C but I’d rather use traditional buttoned-up approach,” he said.

Sterling Equities and MLB Commissioner Allan Selig did not return requests for comment.

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Mets Card of the Week: 2011 Topps Diamond Dillon Gee

2011 TOPPS DIAMOND DILLON GEE

After my previous Mets misadventures with the new Topps set, I resolved to give it another go.

And my luck improved– I pulled this sparkly, shiny, spangly card of Dillon Gee.

It was so shiny, sparkly, and spangly that I could only say one thing upon pulling it: “Gee.”

You know, there’s a good chance that Dillon Gee might one day end up on my top 20 list of all-time favorite Mets’ player names.

Dude’s an interjection, after all. A mild one sure, but an interjection nonetheless.

Here’s my list as it stands now:

20. Harry Parker
19. Pumpsie Green
18. Royce Ring
17. Esix Snead
16. Jerry Cram
15. Skip Lockwood
14. Benny Ayala
13. Tobi Stoner
12. Brent Strom
11. Don Hahn
10. Mookie Wilson
9. Duffy Dyer
8. Choo Choo Coleman
7. Brent Gaff
6. Nino Espinosa
5. Mackey Sasser
4. Amos Otis
3. Marv Throneberry
2. Buzz Capra
1. Cleon Jones

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