Monday, December 20, 2010

Phricking Phillies

Ok, so I've pretty much kept away from the whole Cliff Lee stuff, since there is nothing I'm going to say that wasn;t said in the first hour or so after the announcement.

It certainly was the worst place he could have gone. If he had gone to the Braves it would have been just about as bad I suppose, but basically anywhere else would have been preferred.

Ok, lets get this out of the way... I cannot IMAGINE the Philies (barring major injury to one or more of their now seemingly insurmountable starting rotation) do not win the NL East. They are basically as assured of a playoff spot as one can be assured of one.

Does it mean they will win the whole shebang? I would say the odds favor them but nothing is a sure thing.

As a Mets fan, it does suck. It's just another thing the inane Philadelphia fans get to crow about... and oh GOD do they crow.

I REALLY have to say that the majority of Philadelphia fans (baseball, football and hockey at least) come across as very crass and arrogant and plain... well... mean spirited. It makes this sort of thing even harder to take.

The Phillies ARE an older team though, and I have the feeling that the "win now" mentality will hurt them in the long run. However, that long run will not be 2011 or 2012.

So for the next two years (at least) we have the spectre over our heads. I will say though, 2014 and beyond may be quite rough on that team, but for now... they shouldn't care. They have (once again) made a move that made their team better and if nothing else you have to respect that.

Just remember, this doesn't keep the Mets from being able to compete though. I expect this organization to rise from the ashes here. I expect them to be competitive in 2011 (I see no reason this team cannot win 85 games and at least be in it in September even if I don't expect a playoff spot) and I expect them to make some serious moves and make the team better for 2012 and be ready to go into battle with the playoffs a possibility.

Having said that though?


Say what you want about how good they are (or expect to be) but this team is full of arrogant jerks. If nothing else the Mets had better be ready to stand up to these idiots and give as good as they get.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Enough Already

Just what the heck is wrong with New York baseball fans?

I'm sitting here listening about how terrible the 2011 season is going to be for the Yankees if they don't get Cliff Lee because of how improved the Red Sox are and I have to wonder... with the possible exception of Andy Pettite, isn't this the same team that the Yankee fans expected to storm through the AL into the World Series before a hot Texas team cooled those plans?

I mean, let's see... They have a $25 Million dollar 1st baseman who is pretty much considered a top 5 first baseman (both in hitting and fielding). You have an MVP candidate at 2nd base who took a fairly strong career and made it even beter with a monster season. You have a guy playing shortstop that, despite his age, is still one of the smartest guys on the field and is more likely to raise his game back up then allow it to stay to the depths it was stuck in during the 2010 season. You have a $30 million 3rd baseman who really is likely to give you a 30 homerun, 110 RBI season and that's considered a DROP in production. You have an ace starting pitcher who has been a mixture of solid and dominating in the two years he's been here. You have a young, talented and soild #2 pitcher who will likely improve upon his impressive 2010. You have an, admittedly old, closer who defies all logic and shuts down other team's bats 99.9% of the time. I haven't even started on your very talented, if slightly uneven, outfield who's regular season stats have been pretty damn good.

In other words, why do the Yankees have to worry so much for? I'm not saying they are a lock to make the playoffs in 2011, but the team, just as presently constituted is as strong as most of the league and you know... you just KNOW they will find a way to add a pitcher. I think Pettite will be back and I could see the Yanks winding up with someone like Matt Garza, James Shields or a Wandy Rodriguez.

My gut is that Lee will remain in Texas. I think he's just trying to use the Yankees to get as much as he can there. In fact, I'll go as far as to say I don't think he ever wanted to go to New York. That doesn't matter though. The Yankees are a solid team who, frankly, still have a leg up on most of the AL. A.J. Burnett is not as bad as Yankee fans seem to think he is, and can easily be a #4 guy and contibutor. The offense is more than fine as long as Swisher continues to perform as he has (and there is no reason to think he won't) and A-Rod, Cano and Teixeria do what is expected of them (and there is not reason to think they won't).

As for the Mets... I'm SO SICK of the whining going on here. Everyone... and I mean EVERYONE wanted Omar and Jerry gone. Well they ARE gone and so is the way they did things. The new mangement group is looking to steamline the entire organization and with the lack of real talent on the free agent market this year, I'm GLAD to see them playing it smart and not grabbing someone for the sake of making a splash.

This organization needed a change and we're getting it. As fans, we have to be patient and let this season play out to get some money off the books and be able to make some moves to contruct this team with some real solid pitching and a view for longer term success as well as short term.

Listen. I know I'm in the minority, but I expect the Mets to be competitive next season. Yes, the loss of Johan Santana until June will hurt, but I have faith in the tandum of Pelfrey, Dickey and Neise to be decent. I'm also looking at an offesne that will have a full season of Carlos Beltran in a contract year, a bounce back season from Jason Bay (who I expect to come back to his normal numbers in a big way) and the solid performances of David Wright, Jose Reyes (also in a contract year), Ike Davis and Angel Pagan. If they can keep themselves at .500 until Santana comes back I can see this team being in the wild card mix. Do I thnk they could win the division? No, not at all unless one of the Roys misses a chunk of the season for the Phillies, but to automatically think the Mets are a 4th or 5th place team is ridiculous.

I expect the Mets to sign someone like Brandon Webb or Chris Young to an incentive laden contract and who knows... maybe they'll catch lightning in a bottle. The thing is, look at the big picture here folks. The Mets STILL will be in the top 5 or 6 in payroll in 2011 and odds are will spend a little more for the 2012 season. This is NOT going to be the Oakland A's East. The Mets aren't going to be a Moneyball team. Just shut up and let the new front office crew have some time to reshape this franchise like we've all been begging for the last three years.

Please. Enough.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hey Kids! It's Baseball Bloggers Alliance Day!

As you might be able to tell, baseball means a lot to me. In my household, baseball is almost a religion. I have three children (Pat, Tyler and Alex) who all have played.

Tyler used to be the most feverish about it... he played 2nd Base and Shortstop from age five until he was eight... that was when I was forced into making him a pitcher when I coached a team that didn't have any kid who could actually make the throw from the mound to home plate. Since Ty was able to make the throw consistantly from short to 1st, I figured he'd at least be able to get the ball over the plate and stuck him in there in a desperate situation. He did more than that. For three years Ty was my most consistant pitcher. He didn't have much of a fastball, but his motion brought with it a natural flutter. Add in the fact he was usually right in the area of the strike zone, Ty got a lot of swings and misses. Other coaches started caling him "The Junkballer". The kids were stimied. If they swung, they often missed it or slammed it into the ground for a weak liner back to the box... if they didn't swing he was so close to the strike zone the umpires called it a strike moire often than not. More than once I brought him into a game with the bases loaded and no one out and he'd get out of it only giving up a single run or not any at all. He once pitched a game (a rare night game played under the lights) in his first season in pitching when he threw three and two third shutout innings of 2-hit ball with seven strikeouts and three groundouts back to the box. Becuase of a pitch count I had to take him out and the next two picthers let a mess of runs in, but I never forgot the way the crowd reacted to him coming off the mound after such a dominating performance. For a kid his age, that was remarkable, especially when you add in the fact that Tyler is autistic and was playing baseball in a regular little league with regular kids... not in a challenger league or special league.

Tyler (and I as his coach) won the AAA World Series in 2009 and at age 12 he decided that he needed a break from baseball. The other kids started to catch up to his pitching and his outings weren't always as solid as he was used to and his bat also suffered from the older kids abilities. Even in winning our first championship, his expectations for himself were so big he couldn't handle him coming back to the pack as well and he should. He took last year off but is still a fountian of knowledge of stats about the Mets.

My oldest, Pat, still plays at age 16 and is an excellent fielder both at 2nd and in the outfield. He's got a good bat and if he'd get over his adversion to sliding he'd be even a better player. He's got a great attitude though and coaching him is more than a pleasure... he knows how to make it fun and his mood towards it is always refreshing.

My youngest, Alex, has been playing for four years. He BEGGED to play T-Ball at age four since he would always see his two older brothers playing. At age eight now, Alex is in the zone that he'll either becomes a solid player or lose his taste for it. He often will remark he might not want to play, but once you get him on a field he suddenly finds his desire back to normal.

I coach all three of them (and yeah coaching THREE teams in a season is NOT an easy thing to do) when they play and as much as it's a pain in the rear sometimes, I do love it.

I've also been a Mets fan for a loooooong time. I live and die with the Mets in a way that is almost unhealthy. I actually was once a Yankees fan as a young kid in the 1970's but changed my alligence back in 1982 (for reasons I'll blog about one of these days). It wasn't even a "jumping on the bandwagon thing, since the Mets were TERRIBLE in 1982.

To this day as much as I enjoy football (Giants!) or Hockey (The pitiful Islanders) and played both sports, nothing... NOTHING gets me going like baseball does.

What does this have to do with the BBA? I'm getting to that.

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance is a unit of baseball guys and gals like myself who worship baseball. It means something to all of us and we do more than just talk about it... we support our passion with a string of blogs and radio shows that entertain, inform and project the game we love. The BBA was founded in 2009 by Daniel Shoptaw, a St. Louis Cardinals blogger. I was brought into the fold on suggestion by Frank Maniscalco when I was writing for his NYB Blogs site. When I broke out on my own and launched "It's Outta Here" I was graciously welcomed into the ranks by Steve Keane (the NY NL Chapter President and founder of the amazing Mets Blogsite The Ed Kranepool Society and host of "This Call to the Bullpen" radio show.

Not only is the BBA a group of bloggers who post about our various teams (and you'll find someone from each MLB team out there in the 230 members of the alliance) ranging from blogging about the rich history of baseball, from the analytical part of the game to general baseball news and views coverage all the way to fantasy baseball... but we also vote on season ending awards in a similar fashion of the Baseball Writers of America (who from what I understand aren't too happy about that) like the Connie Mack Award (NL Manager of the Year), the Willie Mays Award (NL ROY), the Goose Gossage Award (NL Reliever of the Year), the Walter Johnson Award (NL Cy Young Award)and the Stan Musial Award (NL MVP)... as well as others depending on the chapter of the BBA doing the voting.

Please take the time to check out the BBA Website ( and the Radio Channel ( and make it a place you visit often. Turst me, if you love baseball half as much as the BBA it'll be time well spent.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Enough Already About Jeter

Ok, I get it. Derek Jeter is 36 years old and is coming off the worst statisic year of his career. We know. God, we know.

But do we REALLY have to be reminded of it ever damn time his name is mentioned?

Listen, the Yankees made a VERY fair offer to Jeter. We know that. Everyone knows that. However the Yankees, who pretty much tried their best to make Jeter the bad guy in the negotiations the past few weeks, really are a bunch of hypocrites.

They don't blink when it comes to throwing gobs of money at anyone and everyone... the A-Rod contract is looking worse and worse every year... but they suddenly have a budget when it comes to the biggest name in pinstrips over the last thirty years?

I think a three year, $41 million contract would have been more than fair. Jeter's made so much money the last ten years he doesn't know what to do with it all. The Yankees have been as good to Jeter as he's been to them... of that ther is no doubt.

However, you have to grin at the fact that they seem to pay players so much more above market value every year that them suddenly becoming cost conscious is beyond laughable.

Also, it seems like the media is going out of their way to label Jeter a total albatross. Every day I see another story about how only one team in history has gone to the world series with a shortstop over 36 years old (that would be the Dodgers and Pee Wee Reese in 1955) and how Jeter is slower and has less power and could hit .259 and be a total weight on the offense and have to be dropped down and I start to wonder... at what point do we give the guy the benefit of the doubt? Has Jeter ever really given the Yankees or their fans a reason to doubt him? I think it's been a little ridculous how for years he never seemed to be able to do any wrong... but one thing you have to give the guy... his head and body give 110% in every play of every inning of every game.

I think the Yankees are idiots. They throw money at players like it's confetti but they treat their most recognized player (hell, just about the most recognized player in Major League Baseball) like he's Rey Ordenez. It's a little sickening.

I don't feel bad for Derek Jeter. He's rich and famous and will be fine without my sympathy. What REALLy gets me is the pointless nature of the team he plays for.

It was pretty much the same for another Yankee great when Bernie Williams was suddenly a man without a country at the end of his career. I can bet you that if Jorge Posoda was a free agent this year he might have gotten the same treatment. I can understand when it's time to part ways with a player... but the Yankees wanted... no the Yankees NEEDED Jeter back... if only because the fans would have revolted has they let him walk... but they needed him because it's plain to see the guy is a winner and other guys in the clubhouse have to be able to look his way and say "that's how I should be..."

So, enough with the stories about his age and his lost step and his slower body. Enough about the fact he wanted to be paid like A-Rod and C.C. and (likely) Lee.

I think the guy has earned it... and dammit... if they're going to throw that money at everyone... why not a guy who is everything you claim you want your players to be?

Be consistant. That's what Jeter has been.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Non-Tender List: Players I would be interested in

We saw a bunch of players non-tendered by their clubs back on Friday, and there are a number of them I would be interested in for the Mets. The following is the list of players I'd look at (in no particular order):

BOBBY JENKS (RHRP): This is a doubtful one, but Jenks would solve a LOT of problems for the Mets. He'd take Pedro Feliciano's place as the reliable set-up man and be able to close when K-Rod wasn't available or better yet, close in place of K-Rod enough to keep his 4th year $17.5 million option from vesting. Jenks will likely get a 2-yr $10 million offer from somebody, which is above what the Mets will spend this year.

RUSSEL MARTIN (C): He's recovering from a hip fracture and his performance hasn't been anything to write home about the last few years, but making him the backup to Jose Thole would be a good move if he would take a $1.4 million offer or so. He's another guy who will likely get a good offer from someone (think 2-yrs $5.5 million) so this is also a doubtful player for the Mets.

CHIEN-MING WANG (RHSP): Hasn't thrown a pitch in the majors since mid-season 2008. He's been pretty much injurged more often that not since 2007. He mad $2 Million last year and never pitched. This is a player who has shown he can pitch in New York and will likely be able to be had for a VERY cheap price. An Inceptive laden contract that starts about $900,000 could get this done. Is supposedly throwing pretty well in instructional league action. This is more than possible.

CHRIS CARTER (OF/1B): I understand that the mets HAD to non-tender Carter becuase of a clause in his contract that he would had to have earned $200,000 or more in Triple-A next season, plus his minor league salary. Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reported: “The Mets are now allowed to re-sign him if both sides choose, with a new split contract that calls for a far lower salary,” Well, I hope they do, because I loved Carter's bat and his attitude. He's an excellent guy off the bench as a PH or a 4th outfielder, despite his barely average defense.

I'm Back

Sorry for the unexpected break, but there was a little too many things to take care of in real life. I did miss commenting on the Mets hiring of Terry Collins as their Manager, and I will get to that at one point. However, there are other things to discuss and I'll be looking to get the ball rolling ASAP. Hopefully I didn't lose a bunch of you during my three week hiatus. Anyway, let's get to it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Mets' Manager Hunt Goes On... and on.... and on...

You know, I am fairly excited about the Mets' new braintrust. They actually have four guys who are well respected and knowledgable in Sandy Alderson, J.P. Ricciardi, Paul DePodesta and John Ricco. I think just by the first three of that group being hired the Mets are immediately no longer considered a front office full of clown shoes.

Having said that, just what in God's name is taking so long to choose a manager?

One of the better candidates has already been hired by the Pirates (Clint Hurdle) and the fanbase is getting a little antsy. I'm all for taking the time to make the right choice, but this does seem to be getting a little out of hand.

So rumor has it that the finalists are: Wally Backman, Chip Hale, Terry Collins and Bob Melvin. According to some sources, it's mostly a two horse race between Collins and Melvin.

Me? I'd rather see one of the two upstarts get the chance.

I'm wildly in favor of Wally Backman mainly because I like his fire and his attention to basics, which is something I think the Mets could use. His style of play is gritty: full of speed and defense, with smart and aggresive baserunning. I like that sort of play. I also think Backman is the LEAST likey of the four to get the job.

I'm a fan of Hale also. He has a lot of respect from the players and a fresh set of eyes. Everything I have heard about him is excellent.

I'm NOT a fan of Collins (who would be a disaster with the media I think as well as a guy who has a rep of pissing off his veteran players easily) and not too big a fan of Melvin.

So my hope? Is that we see a combo of Hale and Backman. Maybe one as manager and the other the third base coach. Toss Melvin the bench coach job.

I have heard that Alderson feels the team manager job is less important that most teams might think. I'm sure he wants someone who will mostly go along with the team strategy that he will detail. However, he needs someone who will be a bit of a presence, carry excellent communication skills and will handle the media well. I also think he needs someone who will let the team see that there is no longer going to be an crap in the clubhouse and on the field. That the management is on top of things and the players need to worry about playing and nothing else.

I think that describes Backman and Hale more than it does Collins and Melvin.

I have my fingers crossed.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sparky Anderson Dies at Age 76

Sparky Anderson, a Hall of Fame manager for the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers, passed away today at the age of 76.

I'm surprised to hear he was only 76. I remember him from the 1980s and he looked like an older man then. Must have been his white hair and the fact that in 1985 I was fifteen and EVERYONE looked old to me.

Anderson won 2,194 games as a manager, which was the third-highest total in major league history when he retired, trailing Connie Mack and John McGraw. He now stands sixth, also trailing Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre.

Anderson was the first manager to win World Series titles in both leagues and the only manager to lead two franchises in career wins.

He led Cincinnati's Big Red Machine to World Series wins in both 1975 and 1976. He won the National League pennant four times in Cincinnati from 1970-78. He was was fired after consecutive second-place finishes in 1980.

Anderson went to the American League and won there, too, directing the Tigers to a World Series title in 1984 and a division title in 1987. He retired after the 1995 season and was added to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Giant Surprise

If nothing else can be said about the 2010 MLB Playoffs, I think the word "unpredictable" is the best description.

After the way the Texas Rangers cut through the New York Yankees in the ALDS, I honestly thought there was little chance the San Francisco Giants had in the World Series. Even with a fairly solid dismatling of the reigning NL Champion Phillies, I just didn't see the Giants doing much. I picked the Rangers in five games and kin of thought I was being generous to SF.

Boy was I wrong.

The Rangers just never seemed to get itself going. The Giants pitching was beyond incredible and shut the Rangers down like they were a minor league team facing a big league club. On the other side, the Giants bats hit way beyond anything you could have expected. Even Cliff Lee looked human facing them. They took advantage of every oppertunity and just flat out outplayed the Rangers.

Just goes to show you that it's impossible to predict these things. Congrats to the 2010 World Champion SF Giants.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Sand Man

So Sandy Alderson is the New Mets GM, and I think it's a pretty good choice.

It really wasn't any sort of a surprise. Even with the number of good people that were interviewed, this was a move the Mets needed to make. Alderson will not be viewed as a puppet. He's a very respected baseball man with a strong voice. In no way can I imagine that the Wilpons will be pulling his strings. Like ANY GM, I'm sure there will be things he'll have to bring back to ownership for approval, but overall I see him having the ability to do whatever it takes to turn the Mets franchise around. I expect some serious changes throughout the ogranization, from front office to ocaches to medical staff and even (hopefully) Public Relations. I think it's high time that Jay Horowitz retired.

While I still would like to see Wally Backman as the next Mets manager, I don't see Alderson going in that direction. I think a guy like Bob Melvin or Clint Hurdle is more likely.

This was a big step for the Mets and overall I like it. The only thing I think I would have preffered more would have been to see Alderson brought in as the Team President and Jon Daniels hired as the GM. Otherwise, I'm pretty happy.

This does not mean that the Mets are suddenly fixed. There's a lot of work to be done and next year is likely to be a transition year with low expectations... however I think we'll see the team start to take some shape with a eye for the long term success for the franchise as a whole. And suddenly, the Mets have a little less of s chaotic feel to them.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Next Mets GM? Howard Megdal throws his hat into the ring

There is a lot of talk about the changes happening to the Mets organization. The fans are almost rabid for a different regime, with names like Sandy Alderson and Josh Byrnes coming back this week for second interviews and there is even a group of holdouts hoping that Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels might consider leaving the AL to come and fix the Mets.

But there is another candidate... one that knows the Mets inside out and feels he could return the franchise to the heady days of 1986 and 2000. A candidate that is less known, but perhaps just as qualified as the larger names mentioned in the same breath as the ones above. A candidate that has suffered with the rest of us Mets fans over the years, and one who decided to do something about it.

Howard Megdal is someone Met fans should reconize. He writes for, and and provides keen insight with his analysis. He has covered the team for the New York Observer and is the Editor in Chief of The Perpetual Post, an online "newspaper" that covering everything from Politics, Sports, Humor and News. He's also the man behind a website dedicated to getting Howard noticed in his quest to be the next GM for the New York Mets.

Two particular items on his website sum Howard's passion for the Mets up nicely. I quote:
"He has lived and loved the Mets since he was six years old. When he was 13 years old, his school Principal forced Megdal to spend the day in his office, since the school had declared Phillies Hat Day, and he refused to remove his Starter pinstriped Mets cap. Had he agreed to remove the Mets hat, he would have been set free. But that was too high a price to pay.

Since 2005, Megdal and his wife have created an increasingly intricate chart of the organization’s major and minor league players. They currently use a 24X36 mockup of Citi Field mounted on their kitchen wall, with tabs containing each player’s name, position, and a headshot for easy identification."

With this in mind, I just had to talk to Howard and pick his brain about his quest. Many fans have dreamed about being a GM for their favorite team, and as much of a longshot as I might be, Howard is taking his shot. He and I talked a little about what he would do if the job became his.

IT'S OUTTA HERE: Ok, to start, a number of people (and fans) usually feel they know what it takes to run a sports team, but most would likely crumble under the real pressure of the job. You aren't just a fan off the street making this claim, but what makes you think you are the man for the job?

HOWARD: Well, I've covered the Mets, and MLB, for most of my adult life. I have a knowledge of both the Mets and the league to rival those in charge, and I've seen, again and again, players I've judged to be on the rise or on the wane to follow that path. No one is perfect, of course, but those decisions compare favorably to the people in charge.

IT'S OUTTA HERE: Ok, let's say you have the job. What is the FIRST move you make?

HOWARD: A tough question to answer, as I'd need to know what my budget is, what other teams are willing to do, etc. Clearly, second base needs to be addressed, along with the back of the rotation, right field, and the bullpen.

IT'S OUTTA HERE: Who is on your potental manager list? Give me three names and a quick reason why for each.

HOWARD: Again, I might well go with an unknown here. I don't think a name manager is particularly important, and rather it is a waste of resources. A manager capable of reasoned in-game strategy, who won't alienate his players, is all I'd want.

IT'S OUTTA HERE: The impression the average person seems to have of the Mets organization is that the franchise as a whole (front office, ownership, medical staff, PR department, the team) is a punch line. What needs to happen for this to change?

HOWARD: Simple: winning, and doing so transparently. If the team has a single story for every event, and success is frequent, the Mets won't be a punch line anymore. Remember when the Red Sox were a punch line? Not that long ago.

IT'S OUTTA HERE: Give me your player wish list from the 2011 free agents.

HOWARD: I strongly prefer Carl Crawford to Jayson Werth. I also think Cliff Lee will get way too many years at way too much money.

IT'S OUTTA HERE: Are there ANY "untouchables" on the team? How about in the minor league system?

HOWARD: It is hard to imagine a trade that makes it worth trading David Wright or Jose Reyes. Generally, there aren't many Mets around who would be at artificially high value, which is what makes a trade candidate for me, rather than some standard of excellence. If Washington offers Ryan Zimmerman and their top six prospects for David Wright, he's no longer untouchable. Naturally, they won't do that, but less-extreme versions of trades like that exist for all players.

IT'S OUTTA HERE: It's often been said the Mets need to establish a "Mets' Way" of playing. What sort of style should this team have? What would you stress as the type of play (and players) you want that will help the club succeed on the field?

HOWARD: I personally think this is ridiculous. You can have a masher at first base, a speedster at second, etc., and provided that player is boosting overall team value, there doesn't need to be a team theme.

IT'S OUTTA HERE: The attendance has been dropping the last few years, even with the new ballpark. Obviously winning will draw fans, but what else do you feel is needed to increase ticket sales?

HOWARD: A sense from the team that they care about the fans in a fundamental way. Things like elimination of Banner Day and Old Timers' Day are a great example of doing things the wrong way. I've proposed student rush tickets, for instance, but there are many ways to make fans more valued. For instance, at Stubhub, you can actually choose your seats. At, you can pick a price level. Guess why fans kept going to Stubhub?

IT'S OUTTA HERE: Do you allow the manager to pick his own staff fully or are there some coaches you want and will assign them yourself?

HOWARD: I want to choose the pitching coach. That seems vital. I'd also let the manager know I expect a certain level of competence from the third base coach. Teams lose runs every year when that job goes to the wrong person- and I don't just mean what we see (runners thrown out), but also what we don't see (runners unnecessarily held).

IT'S OUTTA HERE: You know this team. You've seen the strange and bizarre things that have surrounded them the last few years. What would you do to avoid simular incidents and public embrassments?

HOWARD: Like I said: a single voice, a single story. Things will happen, they happen to all teams- the Mets seem to exacerbate every one of them with multiple leaks and unnecessary extension of stories. That needs to end.

IT'S OUTTA HERE: Is the integrity and reputation of the franchise at an all-time low? Will free agents WANT to come here?

HOWARD: Absolutely. It's about the money, and winning. The Mets should have both with even basic competence in management.


Those are the three words Howard has on the banner for his "Megdal for GM" webite. Just from his answers it seems he takes those three words seriously. I don't know who will be the next Mets GM (I strongly think it's going to be Alderson though) but the Mets could do WAY worse than consider a man who seems to know what the Mets could use in righting the ship.

Check out Howard's work at:
and of course,

Howard can be reached at

Saturday, October 23, 2010

All My Ex's Celebrate in Texas...

Well that didn't exactly go as planned.

Like I said in my prediction of the ALDS between The Tampa Bay Ray and The Texas Rangers that both teams were VERY strong and it would not be a surprise if either team wound up in the World Series. Well, I gave the Rays a slight edge in that series and gave the Yankees the benefit of the doubt in their ALCS with Texas, sayingh they needed to finish them off in Six or less, because the Rangers would win a Seven game series. Seems they didn't even need the full seven. I won't make that mistake again.

Overall, this was a very one sided series. The Yankees were out hit, out pitched, out hustled and out thought. That is not to say the Yankees season was not a moderate success. I know many Yankee fans feel that without a Championship the season is a failure. I cannot subscribe to that way of thinking. Yes there are things to look back at to lament... the fact the team really didn't seem to REALLY push to win the division in the last weeks of the season... but overall the Yanks played well and looked good (barring those last few weeks in Sept). They handled a strong Twins team with relative ease in the ALDS but ran into a juggernaut in the Rangers.

Josh Hamilton won the ADCS MVP award... and his 4 home runs and 7 RBIs (and seemingly endless intential walks) clearly showed he deserved it, but do not discount the incredible pitching performance of Colby Lewis in games 2 and 6. He handcuffed a powerful Yankee lineup that really never seemed to really swing the bats well except in game 5. Even the fantastic comeback in game 1 seemed almost a product of a little luck and some Ranger bullpen mistakes then it seemed like the Yankee bats coming alive.

So, congratulations to the Rangers. If my team annot win, I ALWAYS love to see teams advance that have never been there before or haven't been there in a long time. Texas won it's first ever playoff series in franchise history just a week and a half ago... and then exorcised a long standing ghost in beating the Yankees (who had been 9-1 against the Rangers in the Playoffs before this year) on the way to their first ever World Series apperance. It was nice to see... just like to was quite endearing to see the Rangers spray Ginger Ale all over the place instead of Champane in respect to teammate Hamilton's issues with alcohol. It seems like the Rangers are a tight group who make a solid team of guys who genuinely like and pull for each other and I won;t be betting against them again this year. No matter which NL team wins the pennant.... I think the Rangers are going to make mince meat out of them.

Deep in the heart of Texas.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Playoff Predictions: ALCS

Well, I was close.

So I got three out of four right with my first round predictions, and the one that I got wrong was the series I said would go five games and either team really could come out and find itself in the World Series (the Rangers/Rays series) so I feel pretty good about my selections.

It doesn’t get any easier in the American League though, because the two teams left standing (New York Yankees and Texas Rangers) both make a compelling arguement for why they should be considered the favorite.

So let’s take a look at some interesting bits that could be considered a reason to give either team an edge.

1. C. C. Sabathia: He looked shakey in Game 1 of the ALDS, but you know he’s more than trustworthy on the big stage. Able to go on short rest and pitch well. A true Ace.

2. Mariano Rivera: No matter what his age of his recent struggles at the end of the year, he is shutdown city in the playoffs as usual. Can get you a four or five out save in a close game and be trusted to still dominate. Unflappable. Turns games shorter… if you’re going to get to the Yanks bullpen do it before he comes in.

3. Experiance: Most of the roster has playoff and World Series experiance. They’ve done it before and know what to expect.

4. The Offense: If Derek Jeter really ready to be able to pull the ball with power (something he hasn’t done pretty much all year) then the lineup is hard to beat. Robinson Cano continues to hit like he has for most of the season and Jorge Posada usually finds a way to hit in the postseason. With Mark Teixeria more recovered from his ailments and Curtis Granderson suddenly swinging a hot bat the potential to score a ton of runs is there.

5. The Rangers Rotation matchups to start the series: Since Cliff Lee had to pitch last night’s Game 5, he won’t be available until Game 3. With C.J. Wilson starting Game 1 of the ALCS against Sabathia, if the Yanks can jump to a quick 2-0 series lead, Lee’s presence can be neutralized. That is not to say the Ranger starters aren’t good (they are), but having Sabathia, a true ace, against anyone but Cliff Lee give the Yanks a nice advantage.

1. Cliff Lee: Seemingly unbeatable. Lee was lights out against the Yanks this year (and in last year’s World Series) and he’s been amazing in the playoffs. If the Yanks split in Texas, they are looking at Lee in Game 3. Lose that and suddenly you are looking at a 2-1 Series Yankee deficit against Lee in Game 3 and an unreliable A.J. Burnett as your Game 4 starter. Not something most Yankee fans want to see.

2. The Offense: Talk about being dialed in. The Rangers have two players with 3 Home Runs in the post season already (Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz) and the whole lineup just flat out hit in the first round (except, surprisingly, expected AL MVP Josh Hamilton) . There is a lot of power and some speed in this lineup and they hit big time in Arlington, where the Rangers have the home field advantage. They are aggressive at the plate and on the basepaths and are a lot like the upstart Angels of 2002, but actually have more superstar power.

3. The Starting Pitching: The Rangers’ pitching is not just Cliff Lee. C. J. Wilson is a solid #2 and is actually quite under-rated. The Rangers went 24-9 games he started, which is the second-best winning percentage by any team for any pitcher in baseball this year. Colby Lewis is a serviceable starter who has an average fastball but pounds the strike zone with it. Hitters do not pick up his slider well at all. The Yankees know how good Wilson is and even Tommy Hunter will likely more than hold his own against Burnett in Game 4.

4. The September 10-12 Series Sweep: Don’t discount the importance of that three game series in which the Rangers found every way to beat the Yanks. The Twins haven’t been able to beat the Yankees in the regular season or the postseason, and that had to have played its part in their minds. The Rangers, on the other hand, walked away from this season with the sense they can beat the Bombers. Two come from behind wins (beating Mariano Rivera in one of them) and a convincing gem of a game from Lee gives the Rangers faith they CAN win, and faith is important to a franchise who finally won their first ever playoff series just this week.

Overall this should be a heck of a series in the way that the Rangers/Rays series turned out to be. Both teams have a number of reasons why they could win and neither team should be considered a clear favorite. What it comes down to is this: much like the 1986 Mets, who desperately wanted to avoid facing off against Mike Scott in a Game Seven of the NLCS, the Yankees want to avoid facing Lee in the same scenario. Most teams who start out a series without home field advantage look to split the first two games to get themselves the homefield advantage. The Yankees are hoping to actually win BOTH of the first two games in Texas. Why? Because you have the spectre of Cliff Lee looming in Game 3. While it’s no lock that the Rangers would win that game just because Lee is starting, the odds favor it. If the Yankees split the first two games and face Lee in Game 3, they could find themselves in a 2-1 hole with A.J. Burnett as their Game 4 starter which could be a disaster. Yes, they could send C.C. Sabathia (and what the heck is it with all the intitials in this series? C.C., A.J., C.J. … jeez!) on three days rest into Game 4, but then you would have to pitch Burnett in Game 5 or you’d be sending Phil Hughes into it with only three days rest. You do not want that. Any way you look at it, odds are Burnett is starting a game in this series. That doesn’t make anyone feel good, although there is no lock that Burnett would pitch badly. You just don’t know what you will get. The Yankees have Phil Hughes going in Game 2 and Andy Pettitte going in Game 3 and a potential Game 7 against Lee. That is smart. Pettitte will not be daunted by that pressure.

To me, the Yankees need to win this in six or less games, because if it goes to a Game 7 with Lee on the mound in Texas… well, let’s just say the Yankees will NOT have the advantage. If they can win the first two games of the Series, I think the Yanks can win fairly handily. If not, this is going to be a hell of a fight for them.


For the Yanks, three really stand out.
Phil Hughes: who struggled in the 2nd half after a fantastic first half, but looked excellent in his Game 3 start in the ALDS. Hughes will be expected to either help even the series if the Rangers find a way to beat or outlast Sabathia in Game 1, or help give the Yanks a 2-0 advantage going into a Game 3 against Lee. His performance could be huge.

Andy Pettitte: The crafty veteran really is the best one you can pick to face off against Lee in Game 3 (and perhaps Game 7) if it can’t be Sabathia. He’s unflappable, cool and calm in the face of pressure. He’s got more postseason wins than anyone. He looked very good in Game 2 of the ALDS, but there are still some questions about his health. It’ll be up to him to shoulder a heavy load if the Yanks are down going into Game 3 or if there is a Game 7. If he’s on, he’s the one *I* would want in that position.

Boone Logan: You know who might have been the REAL 2009 World Series MVP? It could have actually been Damaso Marte. Ok, that’s an exaggeration… but Marte was key in the postseason last year including retiring twelve in a row at one point after a little bit of a shakey start to the postseason. The Phillies two biggest bats are both lefties (Chase Utley and Ryan Howard) and neither one could touch Marte. What does that have to do with Logan? One name: Josh Hamilton. Imagine this: 1 run lead for Yanks. Bottom of the 7th inning. Two on, two out and Josh Hamilton at the plate. Who is pitching there? Joba Chamberlain? Kerry Wood? No. It’s going to be Logan, every single time. Joe Giradi will play the matchups and he should. Logan could wind up being the difference makers when it comes to neutralizing Hamilton’s incredible bat. Hamilton is 0-3 with one strike out lifetime against Logan, who was murder on lefties this year. He’s a specialist and can’t be counted on for a full inning for the most part, but his contribution could be huge.


For the Rangers, it’s quite simple:
C.J. Wilson: Lefties hit only .141 aginst him this year, something that could play a huge part with Cano, Granderson and Brett Gardner. The Yankees overall seem to struggle at times with lefthanded pitching. Wilson cannot be expected to outpitch Sabathia, but he can keep the game close and leave his team within striking distance. The Rangers pitching needs other starters to step it up besides Lee, and Wilson is one that can and should that.

Jorge Cantu: The Rangers, like the Yankees, have a strong offense. What they don’t have though, is a solid 1st baseman. Cantu has power but little else. He’s shown flashes of excellent bat control but often falls back into his normal free-swinging self. You expect big offense out of Hamilton, Kinsler, Cruz and Young (and Molinia to a lesser extent) and excellent table setting from Elvis Andus… but a hot bat in Cantu’s hands would make this team very difficult, if not impossible to shut down.

Neftali Feliz: The hotshot rookie closer had a fantastic season but was a little shakey in the ALDS against the Rays. He’s got the stuff but can he handle the pressure? Could he close out a one run lead in the ninth inning of a game in Yankee Stadium facing A-Rod, Teixeria and Cano? The Yankees know that if they go into the 9th with a lead, there is pretty much a 99.5% chance of a win. The Rangers have to wonder. Feliz needs to be a rock. There aren’t many things more demoralizing then eight great innings from a starting pitcher and then a loss when your closer gives it away in the 9th. Feliz’s performance in close games will go a long way to determining how far the Rangers go.

PREDICTION: Yankees in six, however… if it goes to a seventh game, all bets are off and I give the Rangers the nod.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Baseball Bloggers Alliance 2010 NL Season Awards

Here at It's Outta Here!!! we are a member of the New York chapter of the NL Baseball Bloggers Alliance. The BBA has a number of Chapter polls (we did one for All-Stars back in July). With the regular season over, we have to put in for our National League Awards. The breakdown is:

The Connie Mack Award (NL Manager of the Year)
The Willie Mays Award (NL Rookie of the Year)
The Goose Gossage Award (NL Reliever of the Year)
The Walter Johnson Award (NL Cy Young Award)
The Stan Musial Award (NL MVP)

Now, the voting procedure is a little different than just picking one player per award. The way we do it is that the Mack, Mays and Gossage awards require 3 players. (The votes go: 5 pts for first place vote, 3 pts for second and 1 point for third). The Johnson Award requires 5 players (votes go as follows: 7 pts for first place, 4 pts for second place, 3 pts for third place, 2 pts for fourth and 1 pt for fifth) while the Musial Award requires 10 players on the ballot (voting goes 13 for first then 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, etc, etc).

We send in the ballots to our Chapter President Steve Keene (who has guest blogged here a number of times. Steve runs the great blog : The Eddie Kranepool Society) but I also wanted to post my full ballot for the BBA Post Season Awards here for you all to see.

Connie Mack Award (NL Manager of the Year):
1. Dusty Baker
2. Bruce Bochy
3. Bobby Cox

Willie Mays Award (NL ROY):
1. Buster Posey
2. Jason Heyward
3. Ike Davis

Goose Gossage Award (NL Reliever of the Year):
1. Brian Wilson
2. Heath Bell
3. Billy Wagner

Walter Johnson Award (NL Cy Young Award):
1. Adam Wainwright
2. Roy Halladay
3. Ubaldo Jiminez
4. Tim Hudson
5. Josh Johnson

Stan Muisial Award (NL MVP):
1. Joey Votto
2. Albert Pujlos
3. Troy Tulowitzki
4. Carlos Gonzalez
5. Aubrey Huff
6. Ryan Zimmerman
7. Matt Holliday
8. David Wright
9. Adrian Gonzalez
10. Jason Heyward

Monday, October 11, 2010

Well, That was Easy

Sometimes things just never change.

So the New York Yankees swept the Minnesota Twins in the first step towards a possible repeat as World Series Champs, and is anyone REALLY that suprised?

The only game the Twins really had a shot in winning was the first game, where C.C. Sabathia was not very effective and the Twins had held a 3-0 lead until the Yankee bats woke up and stormed forward with four runs in the 6th. Games two and three had fairly little drama, and once again the team that could, just didn’t.

Next up is either the Rangers or the Rays. Tampa Bay looked fairly listless and overmatched in the first two games of the series, but has looked like the team everyone expected in games three and four. Now game five will reveal foe the Yanks who they are facing, but whomever team it is, the Yanks will certainly have an advantage since team aces Cliff Lee and David Price will face off in a “win or die” elmination game, thus leaving another pitcher to face off against Sabathia in Game One of the American League Championship Series.

That also means that odds are you’d see Sabathia in games 1, 4 and 7 but the Rangers or Rays would only have a chance to use their best pitchers twice.

Of course, there is always the chance the situation could wind up helping those teams if one of the two aces got to face off with regular rest against a twice short rested and perhaps overused Sabathia in a deciding game seven.

In any case, what seemed to be a bit of a climb for the Bronx Bombers seems a little bit easier this morning. That is not to say the ALCS will be a cake-walk no matter which team they face, but a well rested rotation can do nothing but benefit the Yanks.

As for the Twins, it’s time to go home again and wonder just why in the Baseball God’s Name does every playoff series vs. New York end the same. For a team that looked so strong going into the playoffs, the Twins looked fairly overmatched, being outscored 17-7 in the three games. The offense struggled mightly and the absence of their all-star/MVP first baseman (Justin Morneau) was glaring. In the end, the terrible play of the last three weeks of the season didn;t seem to affect the Yanks at all, and the road to another Championship became a little less cluttered.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Yankees/Twins Game One was Typical for New York

This is looking awfully familiar.

Game One in the Yankee/Twins ALDS went by the typical Yankee script. The Yanks got around on Twins starter Francisco Liriano and scored four times in the sixth; C.C. Sabathia pitched a decent, if unspectacular, six innings; Mark Teixeria broke a 4-4 tie with a booming home run; and Mariano Rivera closed to game down with a 4-out save.

Like I said, familiar.

The Yanks didn’t pitch particually well. C.C. Gave up four runs (3 earned) in 6 innings and Kerry Wood got in some trouble in the 8th and Rivera had to come in for the extended save. However they pitched well enough to win and the offense put up a six spot (amusing enough they averaged roughly six runs a game in Sabathia’s starts this season).

For the Twins, who seem to always be just a little short in the winning department against the Yanks in the playoffs, it’s got to be frustrating. Tonight’s game will go a long way towards seeing if this is going to be a real series or not. The Twins likely cannot go into Yankee Satdium and expect to win two in a row there, so they REALLY need to win this game if they are going to have a chance to win this series.

It’s ironic again that the Yanks will face Carl Pavano here. To say Pavano was a bust in a Yankee uniform is an understatement. Most Yankee fans would likely decribe Pavano as a thief, seeing he made a boatload of cash and gave the team noting but injury after injury with a few poor starts mixed in. However, since leaving the Bronx, Pavano has found the ability to pitch that got him that huge contract in the first place and finished this year with 17 wins. Andy Petitte will look to show that he’s healthy enough to be the rock in the playoffs he’s expected to be.

The Twins need this one or this series will just be a mirror of their last two playoff series against New York. The Yanks have won seven straight against Minnesota in the playoffs. Tonight is as big as it gets for this team right now.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Playoff Predictions: The NLDS

Yesterday I looked at the ALDS and made some obversations and predictions. Today, let’s take a look at the National League Division Series.

For a while there there was some doubt that either of these teams would make the playoffs. The Braves, who once had a pretty decent lead (at one point it was 7 games) over the Phillies in the NL East, gave it all up and finished 6 games in back of them. They also then coughed up the Wild Card lead a few times in late Sept and on the 2nd to last day of the season before winning it on the last day. The Giants also flirted with both 1st place in the NL West and the Wild Card lead a few times in September before manging to take control in the last week and then almost coughing it up and the Padres (needing a sweep in the last series of the regular season against SF) won the first two games and held their destiny in their own hands before the Giants prevailed with a 3-0 win on the last day of the season.
Both teams have very simular characteristics. Both pitch very well. Both have strong bullpens. Both struggle at times to hit and score runs. Both have highly touted rookies (Buster Posey and Jason Heyward) that are big parts to their offenses.
The Braves have had two huge injuries that create some stress on their lineup. First they lost the face of their franchise in 3rd Baseman Chipper Jones to a season ending injury over the summer, then they lost All-Star Martin Prado in September. Without either one of them, the Braves really have some serious offensive holes. Basically they have to mostly rely on Heyward, thrust into his first postseason in his rookie year as basically “the man” and All-Star catcher Brian McCann. The Braves added a few bats at the trade deadline (and after) in outfielder Rick Ankiel and 1st Baseman Derrek Lee but besides a few nice hits here and there, neither has really gotten hot. It’s not hard to pitch around the Braves lineup.
The Giants aren’t too much better off at first glance. 2009 phenom Pablo Sandoval couldn’t seem to hit anything but buffet tables, Aaron Rowand continued his downward spiral since he signed as a free agent, and Freddy Sanchez has no power and seems to be able to only hit fastballs. However, Posey was brought up and hit almost immediately, Aubrey Huff found he liked the NL much better than the AL and refound his power stroke, Pat Burrell suddenly remembered how to hit again and Andres Torres’ bat control and power helped the Giants hit 39 more home runs in 2010 than they did in 2009.
Both teams have solid starting pitching. The Braves won’t be able to pitch team ace Tim Hudson until game three (as they needed him to get them INTO the playoffs) but Derek Lowe has been spectacular in September and Tommy Hanson has improved his control enough this year to be a solid top of the rotation guy, even if baserunners are able to steal at will off of him. The Giants had a scare from ace Tim Lincecum who struggled early in the season and then had a horrific August (0-5 with a 7.82 ERA, with NL hitter getting a .415 batting average off him) but he recovered to have a strong Sept (5-1 with a 1.94 ERA and a .242 average against) . Matt Cain has #1 stuff as well and youngster Jonathan Sanchez is solid. Both closers have put in good years, with Brian Wilson leading the NL in saves and Billy Wagner returning to an overall strong season despite some mid-season struggles.
Like the Rangers and Rays in the ALDS, these two teams are very evenly matched. Unlike those two teams they have the same weaknesses and strengths so it will be interesting to see how they counter each other. The Braves biggest concern is their offense and unless McCann and Heyward are lights out they will seriously striuggle to put runs across the plate. They need Omar Infante, Matt Diaz and/or Lee to step up. The one-two punch from Lincecum and Cain is almost as good as the one-two punch of the two Roys over in Philly. That and a stronger offense in the end will really be the difference here.

At first glance this seems to be the most lopsided of the four Division Series. The Phillies recovered from injuries to Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard to have a great second half and finish with the best record in the MLB. They have been to the World Series twice in the last two years (winning it once) and added an ace (Roy Oswalt) when they already had one (Roy Halladay).
However, while the odds are certainly in the Phillies favor, the Reds are no pushovers.
The Reds have a formidable rotation themselves. Edinson Volquez has electric stuff, had a great September (a 1.95 ERA) and is very rough on lefthanded hitters like the Phillies Utley and Howard. Bronson Arroyo and Johnny Cueto both had solid seasons. The Phillies, however, have three guys who are just pitching lights out right now. The two Roys and #3 Cole Hamels were a combined 13-1 in the last month of the season. The Phillies don’t have a #4 they can rely on, but in a short series they don’t need one. Their 1-2-3 punch is the best in all of MLB and should throw a serious scare into any opponent.
Both teams can certainly hit. The Reds are led by likely NL MVP Joey Votto who not only tore up the NL, but also was murder on the Phillies this season going 11-for-28 with three home runs and six RBIs in seven games. Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce round out an offense that lead the NL in runs this season so while the Phils may look to pitch around Votto they don’t exactly have a creampuff lineup behind him. The Phillies had an off season from Utley and Jimmy Rollins’ health is in doubt which is a factor for a team that boasts an almost AL worthy lineup, but they have enough weapons to have a possible different hitting hero each night.
While neither team’s bullpen is lights out, the Reds closer is a major weakness. Philly closer Brad Lidge seems to have found his way again and looked much stronger in the second half than he looked earlier or all of last year. Francisco Cordero blew eight saves and had an ERA bordering 4.00 for a chunk of the season. The Reds’ not-so- secret weapon in Aroldis Chapman, who hit as high as 105 MPH on radar guns might be just what the Reds need if Cordero falters, which I think he will.
The Reds can hold their own, and are a strong team and would likely have been a favorite against the other two NL playoff teams, but the Phillies 1-2-3 rotation punch and their offense and playoff experiance will be too much to overcome.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Playoff Predictions: The ALDS

Well, the 2010 MLB regular season is over. It was a wild year where a number of teams in playoff positions at the halfway point of the season (the Red Sox, Padres, Mets, Tigers) fell out of contention and failed to make the playoffs. Where a team blew a sizeable lead in their division and then in the wild card, only to resecure the wild card on the last day of the season (the Braves). Where two teams regarded as the two best teams in the AL seemed to not want to win their division (The Yankees with an 8-12 record in the last three weeks and Rays with a 10-11 record in those same 3 weeks) and a team that was in third place at the halfway point of the season (The Phillies) and suffered injuries to three of its biggest players at points during the season (Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard) finished with the best record in baseball.

So despite the fact we were VERY close to having a three way tie that would have resulted in a double-playoff elimination set of games (Giants vs. Padres for the NL West crown on Monday, with the loser playing the Braves for the NL Wild Card on tuesday) the team and matchups are set. Let’s take a look at the first round of each playoff series and I’ll give you my thoughts on each. We’ll start with the American League and do the National League tomorrow.

This is most likely going to be the best of the first round matchups. You have two powerful teams here that actually have different strengths to a point. The Rays have excellent pitching and defense, yet struggle to hit the ball. The Rangers have a killer ace in Cliff Lee but the drop off from there is kind of significant but they score runs by the busload. This is going to be a heck of a series. The Rays finished towards the bottom of the AL in batting average, yet finished third overall in runs scored in the Majors. This is basically attributed to their ability to get on base via the walk (1st in the AL) and then steal bases once they are on (again, 1st in the AL). This, plus their strong showing against left handed pitchers (they were 3-0 against Cliff Lee this season) gives them an advantage, if a slight one. Evan Longoria is really the most dangerous bat in the Rays’ lineup but there isn’t a lot of power other than him and 1st baseman Carlos Pena, who is almost as likely to strike out as he is to hit one out. The Rays will need someone else to step up and swing a hot bat. The Rangers have a lot of power, from likely AL MVP Josh Hamilton (recently back from broken ribs which may play a factor here), Nelson Cruz, and Ian Kinsler. While Vald Guerrero’s resurgence has suffered in the last six weeks of the season, he’s still a bat to reckon with.
With David Price and Lee, both teams have a Cy Young caliber starter but the Rays starters are more solid overall. The Rangers will rely on C.J. Wilson to continue a promising year, but overall the Texas starters have some issues.
Both teams have excellent bullpens. The Rays have a near devistating one-two punch in Rafael Soriano and Joaquin Benoit as their closer and set up man. The two have been near unbeatable and have been complimented by solid work from Grant Balfour and Randy Choate, but the Rangers’ bullpen won a whopping 32 games (best in the AL). Neftali Feliz has had an amazing rookie season and could very well be the 2010 Rookie of the Year. Darren O’Day and Darren Oliver have had incredible seasons.
This is likely to be an epic series and it’s doubtful either team will come out and dominate the other. Either one of these teams could find themselves in the World Series. The winner of this one will be the team that keeps its mistakes to a minimum. Out of all the first rounds series, this is the hardest to pick.

Well this looks familar doesn’t it? Another first round matchup and another where the Twins will not have their slugging firstbaseman in Justin Morneau. They don’t have a prayer, do they?
Well, let’s not be that fast. The Twins are a stronger team this year than last year. Francisco Liriano was one of the best pitchers in the AL this year, Jim Thome found the fountian of youth and murdered the ball this season over the second half and Joe Mauer is still one of the best hitters on the planet. Does that mean they have a chance against the mighty Yankees? Well, seeing on how the Yankees have some serious questions themselves, there is a chance here, even if it’s not a huge one.
The Yankees had a rough finish to the year, losing 18 of their last 26 games. Andy Pettite looked very shakey in his last few starts and AJ Burnett pretty much pitched his way out of a start in the first round (and maybe the 2nd round as well). The health of Mark Teixeria is still in doubt and Derek Jeter has certainly taken a decent sized step backwards in production this year. The bullpen is still in unrest, despite Kerry Wood becoming a very viable 8th inning guy.
Despite all of this, it’s pretty hard to pick against the Bombers. They finished first in the AL in runs scored and still have a lineup to be wary of. Despite some struggles in the last month of the season, Mariano Rivera is still near impossible to defeat. C. C. Sabathia has proved he can pitch with the best of them on short rest and the Yanks will go with a three-man rotation for this first round series.
For the Yanks, the starting pitching is likely the biggest thing that could unhinge them, but in the end, missing Morneau and having a closer with no playoff experiance (Matt Capps) will hurt.

It’s Official

In a move that really should surprise no one, the Mets annouced today that Vice President/General manager Omar Minaya and Manager Jerry Manuel have both been dismissed from their posts.

These were moves that, frankly, I felt should have been made last year, but the tremendous amount of injuries the team suffered in 2009 bought both men an extra year, and the very good first half of the 2010 season made things look like they could work out. On July 4th weekend, officially one game past the mid-point of the season, the Mets had a record of 46-36, were 2 games out of first place and held a 1/2 game lead in the wild card. Everything pretty much went wrong after that. They suffered a bad series to the Braves (losing 2 out of 3) just before the All-Star break, then stumbled out of the gate after the break going 5-11 in the remainder of July and going 17-27 through the end of August. Throughout the rest of the season, injuries to Jason Bay, Jose Reyes, Johan Santana, Francisco Rodriguez and Bobby Parnell, as well as in the inability of Carlos Beltran to get himself going all contributed to the rough ending in which the Mets seemed like a totally different ballclub than they were in the first half.

So where do the Mets go from here? Well, like everone is saying, the Mets need a strong presence in the GM chair. They need an experianced guy with thick skin and a deep rooted history. They need someone who can be straightfoward with ownership and in the ned the new GM MUST be someone with extensive baseball knowledge. This sounds almost like a given, but some times it is not.

The team needs someone to take hold of the reigns and steer this ballclub (and the organization as a whole) in a totally different direction. I also feel (very strongly) that the entire Public Relations Department needs to be let go. Those jokers have been part of the problem as well.

In the weeks ahead we’ll expore the moves the Mets need to make to create a winning environment in which the club can contend and wash the stench of “joke” off.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Salvaging Some Pride

Well, it’s about time.

While it really is a matter of too little too late, the Mets made a statement this weekend to the Phillies and that statement was hopefully fairly clear: “We’re not going to stand here and be your whipping posts anymore.”

After Friday night’s game in which Chase Utley slid late and VERY hard into second base and collided with 2nd baseman Rubin Tejada, the Mets were steaming. A lot of comments were made about the rough slide which while no one actually used the words “dirty play”, it was certainly implied. The Mets hinted that a retaliation might be in order, but with many other Phillie-related incidents over the last few years, many figured it would be a matter of talking but no real action.

For once though, the Mets were good to their word. They not only stepped up and beat the defending NL Champs twice in a row (the Phillies hadn’t lost two games in a row in over a month) and denied them the oppertunity to win the NL East and celebrate with the Mets in attendance (something there were rumors that the Phillies were REALLY hoping to be able to do… celebrate at home and in front of the Mets) but Carlos Beltran returned the favor on Saturday night and slid late and hard into second base to break up a potential double play, after which the Mets surged with 3 more runs in the inning to take a 5-2 lead.

Beltran was furious with the Utley play from Friday. “To me, yes, he crossed the line,” Beltran said in a pretty worked up manner. “Not only on that play. He has done things in the past, like blocking bases. It’s O.K. to play hard, it’s O.K. to get outs. But once you try to hurt somebody, that’s no fun. He’s such a good player, too good, to be doing that. But I guess that’s the way he plays. We can play like that, too.”

Beltran backed up his words even more on Sunday, hitting a pair of homeruns, including one of them off losing pitcher Cole Hamels who finished the year 0-4 against the Mets this season, and making a fantastic diving catch.

What I’m hoping for is that the team sat down together after Friday night and said to each other “I’m sick of this $^!#. Enough is enough. I’m not going to be a punch line or a punching bag anymore.” and decided it was time to start playing the sort of baseball (and having the sort of attitude) that demands some respect.

A perfect example is the below video which Frank posted. It’s a video created by a comedy duo from New York and the video itself is very funny, but the idea behind it is that the Mets themselves are a bunch of clown shoes. It’s really about time the team took it upon themselves to shake that label off. While the last two days haven’t done that, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Down to the Wire for Yankees/Rays

So the big four game series between the two AL East powerhouses turned into a wash as the split the series right down the middle and gave everyone absolutely no idea which team really is in the better position.

Unless someone totally collapses, both the Yankees and the Rays are making the playoffs… that much is fairly certain. Of course the question is at this point, which team would you rather face in the first round? The Twins, who have quietly surmassed the best record in the American League from August 1st on (and without their slugging 1st baseman Juston Mourneu) or the slugging Rangers (who will throw the nasty duo of Cliff Lee and CJ Wilson in a short 5 game series)? Of course, the winner of the AL East will have home field advantage for at least the first round, while the wild card winner will not have any and that fact alone maybe play a part in where you might want to see a team finish.

In any case, the Yankees looked really good in the first two games of this series… and then the Rays looked really good in the 2nd two games. Neither got an advantage over the other and neither really looked like they were about to burst ahead.

The Rays have the advantage now for two reasons:
1 – The two teams are tied in the loss column. Having the extra game in hand gives the Rays an advantage because the won the season series.
2 – The Yankees have nine games left. Six games against Boston (3 in NY this week and 3 in Boston to end the season) and three games against Toronto. The Rays have ten games left. Six at home against Seattle and Baltimore and four on the road in Kansas City. You KNOW that Boston will be looking to mess up the Yankees as much as possible and as much improved the Orioles are with Buck Showalter at the helm, the Mariners and Royals aren’t likely to put up much of a fight against Tampa Bay.

That doesn’t the Rays are a shoo-in to win the Division, but it does look good for them.

Likely, the Yankees will start to rest players (Mark Teixeria is hurting big time and needs some down time) and set up the rotation for the first round, so likely, those last four or five games will see a lot of youngsters and bench players getting time.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Should Yanks be Concerned about Late Season Stumbles?

The 2010 season has seen a number of ups and downs (much more ups than downs) for the Yankees, but coming into this four game series with the Tampa Bay Rays (which will likely determine who wins the AL East unless it’s an even 2-2 split) the Yanks have stumbled a bit. Before winning 2 of 3 from Baltimore the Yankees had hit a rough patch going 4-9 in their previous 13 games against teams like the Blue Jays, Orioles, Rangers and Rays. Add to this the obvious struggles of Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeria (due to injury), Nick Swisher, Lance Berkman and Javy Vasquez and the curiously unknown incident that left A.J. Burnett with a black eye and bruised cheek (maybe he ran into K-Rod and was mistaken for his Father-In-Law?) and there should be cause for some concern.

The Yanks righted things to a point with a winning series in Baltimore this past weekend and winning the first game of the 4-game series with the Rays (extending their lead in the AL East to 1.5 games) but overall, between health (Teixeria’s thumb and toe, Posada’s head, Swisher’s knee, Gardner’s wrist, Pettitte’s groin) and some slumps, the Yankees have to be a little worried headed into the last stretch before the playoffs.

To hear them talk, they are not. Brian Cashman is “not concerned at all” and Jeter said “we are right where we want to be, controlling our own destiny”. I wouldn;t expect anything but these sort of comments from this team, but I do think there is something to the fact that this is not a good time to suddenly hit the skids. You want to go into the playoffs on at least a fairly smooth run. Cashman has said that the Yankees focus is much more on winning a World Series than on winning their Division and I have to agree to a point that it would make more sense in the last week of the season if the division is still in doubt it would be better to set up for the playoffs more than worry about finishing in first, but do not discount the Yankees advantage at home, something they would basically not have at all if they won the Wildcard instead of the AL East.

It also seems that A.J. Burnett is going to have a spot in the rotation in the playoffs no matter what, according to Cashman. This makes sense, seeing as the alternate would be rookie Ivan Nova or the banished to the bullpen Vasquez. It seems that manager Joe Girardi is wary of Burnett, but there really isn’t too much of a choice.

The Yankees have had late season slumps before and flipped the switch once the playoffs started (at the horrible finish in 2000 for a perfect example) but this is a weird team. They really should be considered the overall favorites as the team is strong and sound, but there is that nagging little voice that seems to worry just enough about things to keep the expections from being a slam dunk.

It’s hard for me to say the Yanks are in trouble. They still have an excellent record and they still feel like that team that will always find a way to win in the end. However, the Twins have the best record in baseball since the beginning of August (without their MVP 1st baseman), The Rangers have a big time offense and a Cy Young caliber ace and the Rays pitch and catch the ball a little better than the Yanks do (although they do not hit and score as well). The Phillies, with two legit #1 aces in ‘The Roys” (Halladay and Oswalt) and a solid #2 in Cole Hamels are a team to watch out for and are streaking at the right moment and the Braves pitch just about as well as anyone. This isn’t going to be a cake walk by any stretch.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Is the Walter Reed Medical Center Controversy really that big of a deal?

So by now odds are you’ve heard about the Mets trip to Walter Reed Army Medical Center on Tuesday to visit wounded soldiers.

There were four Mets absent from the team’s visit. One was Dillon Gee, the rookie who was starting that evening against the Nationals and had been excused. The other three were Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez.

Since the report was made that these three missed the scheduled trip (of which the Mets have gone each year for the last few years) and the rest of the team was there, a lot has been made about it. A report came out saying the Mets front office was “very unhappy” with the three players and the fans and media coverage have blasted the trio.

Beltran wound up explaining he missed the trip (which was NOT mandatory by the way) because he had a meeting with his foundation (The Carlos Beltran Foundation) to discuss plans to build a high school in his native Puerto Rico. He also explained that he visited the Veteran’s Hospital in the offseason with owner Fred Wilpon. He said he had “liked it. And I wanted to go. But I had my own things to do.”

Castillo and Perez had less “explanation”. Castillo felt he would have been too traumatized by the sight of injured soldiers and would have not been comfortable seeing them. Perez gave no explaination at all saying “I don’t answer (questions about) anything about outside the stadium.”

The reports go on: The Wilpons are mad, their team-mates are mad, the fans are mad, the media is mad.

However, is this really something that is the big deal they are making it out to be?

Beltran’s explaination was a pretty good one. He had been to the hospital before and the meeting he was at was for charitable reasons.

Castillo’s may sound weak, but we don’t know the extend of his ability to filter out the situation. I know of people who lost children to a particular issue, be it accident or cancer or whatnot who are not able to visit other kids in a children’s hospital because of the memories it drudges up. Perhaps Castillo has a simular situation in his past with soldiers/wounded vets.

Perez… his refusal to give an explanation doesn’t mean he doesn’t have one. (However I would actually think it’s more likely Perez is in no rush to do anything for the Mets he doesn’t have to do.)

Listen, was the move a public relations mistake? Of course it was, especially with the seasons each is having. Right now, it seems the fans and media is looking for any excuse to pile on these players. I’m actually surprised that Perez is able to walk around in New York right now listening to how much he seems to be disliked by the team and fans.

Supporting our Military Veterans is something I very strong about. I don’t take anything like this lightly, however the players not only had the right to not go, it seems that people haven’t even considered that there was legit reasons they didn’t.

With all of the problems the Mets have right now, making this an issue is just stupid. Celebrate the players who went and how the visit made them feel, but enough is enough with killing the few that didn’t go.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Where Does It Start?

The other night, when Jeff Francour was traded to the Texas Rangers, it was reported that a number of players made the loud comment “Can I go with him?”

This would be the second time this occured, as we heard the same thing happened when Rod Barajas was traded to the LA Dodgers. Jerry Manuel said on WFAN that he would address the whole team about the comments and sounded annoyed at the remarks.

I know this team has been in a bad place the last six weeks, but it’s still strange to hear this from a team that seemed to so together and upbeat in the first half of the season.

What I’m wondering is, that changed that? A lot was made of the loose and smiling clubhouse, how the players were picking each other up, how everone seemed to get along and there was a lot of positive vibes.

I’ve heard the whispers that Carlos Beltran’s return to the team was the starting point of where it went sour. Could that REALLY be it?

My guy feeling is that perception that is embedded in all media and seemingly all around baseball that the Mets organization is a total mess. A day doesn;t go by without some sort of insulting, smarmy remark being dropped about this team and the franchise as a whole. I’m sure after a while it wears on the players to the point they just don’t want to deal with it.

The way this team has sleptwalked it’s way through it’s second half, it’s obvious to me that Manuel has lost a chunk of the clubhouse. I also get the feeling that the fact that Oliver Perez is anywhere near the major league roster has pissed a lot of players off. Add in the fact that no moves were made to improve the club at the trade deadline after an offseason of little moves and the players may just have the impression the club has no faith in them.

Jeff Francour was a VERY popular guy in the clubhouse. Of that there is no doubt. I’m sure the fact his playing status went back and forth bothered players because they liked and respected him, and I’m sure his departure wasn’t something they wanted. However in the end Francour just wasn;t getting the job done. His excellent numbers from last year after the trade that brought him to the Mets never returned, and despite some timely and clutch hits this season, his overall body of work was erratic and weak enough to not merit the playing time he wanted. I’d actually be surprised if there were harsh feelings from the players that he was sat a number of times or that he was eventually traded away. As great of a guy that he was, I’m sure the players would look at his numbers and see he wasn’t having any real success… wouldn’t they?

The Mets seem to be the main punchline of almost any joke. Every time I see them mentioned on ESPN, in the newspapers or on sports radio it’s always followed by comments that are degrading or put down the team and organization. I’m not saying that backlash and critizism isn’t warranted, but holy cow everyone is relentless with the way they talk about them. I would think this goes a long way towards making players wish they weren’t stuck in the middle of it.

As I discussed way back at the beginning of the season, the Mets need to change the perception they are a organization run by the keystone kops. Changes need to be made. When you have players wishing they were on their way out. it needs to be addressed.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Oliver Perez is Insane

So Oliver Perez, during a conversation with Kevin Burkhardt of SNY, recently remarked that he feels he is being treated unfairly by the Mets, basically being a forgotten man and rarely pitching.

My first reaction to hearing this was “Onion headline”. Then I went on with my day.

Then I heard from other sources that this was a true quote. and Keith Hernandez and Gary Cohen during last night’s game both confirmed it. So my second reaction was “WHAT THE &$@#?”

Perez is out of his mind if he seriously thinks this. The Mets gave Perez oppertunity galore and he failed. Then when they wanted him to go down to the minors and work out his issues, he refused. Now the Mets bascially play every game with a 24 man roster since Perez is pretty much usable except in games like yesterday where it’s a blowout and you want to try and save the bullpen a little.

I’m sick and tired of hearing this joker’s name. No matter what they have to eat, the Mets need to cut Perez loose. If they are so worried that he’ll go out and pitch well somewhere else, they really shouldn’t be. The only way I see him having some success is with a team like the Royals or even back with the Pirates where the team will throw him out there every fifth day no matter what and he’ll have games like he did here where he’ll be masterful but the overall body of work will be uneven and full of walks and nightmare innings.

Listen, back when they resigned Perez I thought it wasn;t a bad move. Perez had shown some serious flashes of brilliance and I honestly thought he was a very capable #3 pitcher. I mean at one point the guy was like 9-2 with an ERA under 3.00 against the Braves, Yanks and Phillies in a Mets uniform. However, those days are long gone. The gutsy pitcher from game seven of the 2006 NLDS and the 15 win promising pitcher from 2007 is likely never going to be heard from again. Looking at how much Derek Lowe signed for with the Braves and what was available back then the Mets actually didn;t have a h lot of choices. I don’t think ANYONE could have predicted on how bad overall this would be.

But now, Perez is not just an albatross on the team and isn;t just a basical Pariah from his teammates, but is now also sounding like a crazy idiot by saying he’s being treated unfairly. The Mets are paying him millions, yet he refuses to accept responsiblity for his terrible performances and at least do something to help the franchise by going to the minors and working it out and letting them have a servicible pitcher in his spot. To me, this must be the last straw. The Mets aren.t getting anything for their money anyway… at least get rid of him to clear the spot for someone useful. I don’t care if the orsters go to 40 men in a few days. Enough is enough. The Mets are the punchline to many jokes as it is, at least take control of this.

Monday, August 30, 2010

How Many Years?

During last night’s blogcast radio show, I asked Phil Speranza (from the great Yankees blogsite what he saw Derek Jeter getting from the Yankees after the season since his $189 million, ten-year contract will be up. I asked if five years seemed out of the question, as I was speculating that he might want as much as that. Phil thought that five years wasn’t out of the question. Frankie The Sports Guy agreed that five yars was a possible number. I thought about it a lot over night though, and I have to wonder.

I cannot imagine the Yankees allowing Jeter to walk or Jeter really willing to walk away from the Bronx. However, I would suspect that Jeter may expect to get at least a four year deal, if not five years. I would also expect him to be looking for anywhere from $19 – $21 million per year. That would mean that the Yankees would be dishing out anywhere from $76 million to $105 milllion for the Captain’s final contract.

Jeter is 36. He had a fantastic 2009 and the Yankees won the World Series. However his 2010 has not been as productive and he’s heading towards one of the worst (if not THE worst) season of his career. 2008 wasn’t the best of years for him either. While you cannot argue his worth to the franchise, the Yankees have to figure out if they are rewarding Jeter for his past successes (in which he’s already been paid in excess of $205 million, a pretty damn good compensation) or his future performances, which will very likely not be worth $76 million, much less a whopping $105 million if he got a five year deal with a $21 million a year average.

So, do the Yankees low ball Jeter? Say they offer a three year, $48 million offfer? If they did, would he get offended and be vindictive enough to walk? Would there be another team willing to pony up serious money to sign him? (Could you imagine a scenario where Joe Torre stays in LA and the Dodgers tempt Jeter with a five year, $90 million offer? What about the Braves looking to make some serious noise?)

Ok, I highly doubt such a bizarre situation could play out, however it’s something to consider. Phil mentioned last night he thought that Jeter has been the best centerfielder on the Yankees the last few years. Would s larger contract come with a decree from the Yankees for Jeter to move? Would his pride get in the way for such as move?

Listen, no one is going to cry for the Yankees if they wind up having to overpay Jeter in the tune of… say… $85 million for four years where the last few years are grossly overspent. The Yankees can afford it, right?

Maybe. Maybe not. The Yankees are in a tight position here. They have the face of the franchise… the figure that everyone thinks of first when you mention pinstripes. To the younger generation, Jeter is bigger than Ruth, Mantle and Jackson. To the older generation, he’s right in line with those names. No one would win from a divorce between Jeter and the Yanks, and like I said above, I cannot really imagine a scenario where it would happen… however that doesn’t mean the negotiations will be smooth or the end result will be one that is mutually benefitical for both parties.

I get the feeling that in the end, the Yankees will not have the stomach to offer Jeter what he’s worth going forward… which I feel is a two year deal at $14/14.5 million a year with a club option for a third year. The Yankees have paid Jeter well for his past services and don’t need to reward him in that way. Jeter will have a lifetime contact with the Yanks after he retires that will be a nice “reward” for all of his past services (as well as the gobs and gobs of dough he’s already made). My predicti0n? A four year deal worth roughly $14.75 a year or about $60 million. Is it the right move? I can’t answer that. Like I said above though… if anyone could absorb that sort of contact, it’s the Yankees.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Should Parnell Be Closing?

With Francisco Rodriguez’s season over due to his scuffle with his common-law Father-In-Law and lousy right hook, the Mets have been using Hisanori Takahashi as their closer and he’s done a pretty good job. The Mets have actually picked up a game and half in the wildcard standings the last two days and are likely to keep things as they are as they try and see if they can somehow worm their way into playoff contention (as slim a chance it is) over the next two weeks.

However if things do not go the Mets way (and likely it will not, even if the Mets are able to lift their play to the level they were at in May and June) I have to wonder if the Mets would be better served by letting Bobby Parnell have a go at closing.

I think that the idea has some serious merit. I thought I was alone in the thought until I read a post saying the same thing from Matt Cerone over at Parnell had a small period where he struggled not too long ago, but has been pretty spectaular since and overall has had a good season. The main thing is though, that the guy can bring some serious heat (he hit 101 in a recent game against the Houston Astros and 99 a number of times against the Pittsburg Pirates) and he’s young (only 25, compared to Takahashi’s 34). Looking at the volatile situations concerning closers these days, it would behoove the Mets to see if they have a very inexpensive alternative to close other than K-Rod or even just going forward for life after him.

At this point, it’s kind of obvious the Mets are looking to push forward with the idea of prospects and home grown players being a huge part of this team going into 2011 and beyond. Ike Davis is the 1st baseman. I think Ruben Tejada has the advantage on the 2nd base job for next year if he can show this season he can hit at least a little bit (with Daniel Murphy being more of a threat to him for next year than Luis Castillo is) . Jenrry Mejia is widely expected to be on the roster next year, either in the bullpen or give a shot to start. Kirk Nieuwenuis, Dillon Gee, Fernando Martinez and Pat Misch will all have a serious shot at making the team in 2011. Isn’t it a good idea to get at least a notion if Parnell has the ability to close and bounce back after a bad outing in a pressure situation?

It’s worth investigating the idea. If the Mets really are going to be a more thrifty team going forward and the young movement seems to be on the forefront of business, then they should see if they have an important cog now, and not wait until later. The Mets have a habit of putting themselves in a position to scramble, and it would be a good idea to avoid that.