Thursday, March 29, 2012

The "Pre-Spring Training" 2012 Mets overview

While I'm not quite as optimistic, I do agree I think the general feeling the Mets are a disaster is totally unfounded. I'm not even convinced they have the worst rotation in the NL East. If Josh Johnson doesn't return to health, and he's been fairly injury prone, their pitching staff is basically Sanchez and Buehrle.

As presently built, I see the Mets as a team that can finish at .500 (this is counting on at least 29/30 starts from Johan Santana). If Mike Pelfrey can pitch like he did in 2008 & 2010 instead of how he pitched in 2009 & 2011... If Jason Bay can return to even about 80% of what he was in 2009... If Niese and Murphy can stay healthy for the whole season... If we get the 2010 Wright instead of the 2011 version... Then I can see the Mets winning upwards of 86 games. In that area, a couple of things go right and suddenly 88/89 wins are not out of the question and maybe that gets you a wild card.

Yeah, that is a lot of "Ifs". I know. But most of those "ifs" aren't exactly extremely difficult to imagine possibilites.

Is it likely? Probabally not. But it's not an insane thought. I wouldn't count on the Mets losing 90 games, much less 100. Of course if they get ravaged by injury again, then all bets are off... but you can basically say that about ANY team in the Majors.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Nestordamus Predictions: Booms and Busts of 2012

Yes, many of you must know the famous French apothecary and reputed seer Nostradamus who made many predictions of the future than may or may not have been true, depending on your interpretation (or misinterpretation) of his writings.

Well, I have taken his place as the prominate seer of futures that can easily be misinterpretated. Yes, I: Nestordamus will amaze you all with my flawless predictions that will all come true... except the ones that don't.*

So let's turn our eye to the 2012 Baseball season and make some Boom or Bust predictions. We'll flip back and forth.

BOOM: Cole Hamels

Yeah, not exactly a stretch. However in his walk year before his first chance at free agency I think we'll see a rise in the game of this young hotshot who will figure to break the bak in 2013. Unlikely to remain with the Phillies due to the incredible salaries already being paid to Halliday, Lee, Utley, Rollins, Papelbon and Howard, Hamels will be looking for a simular contract to C.C. Sabathia or C.J. Wilson, if not more. 2012 will be a season that Hamels looks to show he's not as injury prone as he's been labeled in the past, and he'll look to elevate himself to the level of his two high-profile rotation-mates in Halliday and Lee.

BUST: Hiroki Kuroda

Every Yankee fan I know has pointed to the trade of Jesus Monatro to the Mariners for Michael Pineda and the (same night) signing of the right-handed Kuroda as the proof the Yankees now have the best rotation in the AL. I think this is quite premature to claim this, and in fact think the signing of Kuroda wasn't the windfall they seem to think it is. His 3.07 ERA was excellent last year and throughout his four year MLB career his ERA has been pretty good. However remember he did lose 16 games last year, has only has one season in his career with a winning record (8-7 in 2009), has never pitched in the American League and he'll be 37 years old. Add in that short porch in right field and I have a bad feeling about him. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying he'll be Kevin Brown bad... but I'm not expecting more than say a 13-9 4.30 ERA type season. Not too bad, but not the 17-6 3.65 ERA type season I'm hearing thrown about.

BOOM: Brandon Belt

The Giants don't have a lot of offense to go along with that wonderful pitching, but the youngster is someone who will add a hell of a bat to the lineup in support of the power arms that highlight the Giants chances of the playoffs. Belt's 2001 season was supposed to be his coming out party but he stumbled batting .225 in 63 games while shuffeling back and forth between the Giants and AAA. I think Belt learned a lot from last year though and the experiance will help make him mentally tougher and overall a stronger player. In support of my way of thinking, his spring was fantastic. He hit for both power and average and drew a decent amount of walks as well.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Saying Goodbye to The Kid

It's been almost 24 hours since I found out Gary Carter passed away from complications from Brain Cancer. I found out while driving home from work at about 6 PM. I was shocked... not so much because I didn't know he was sick (I had been half expecting it since it was revealed he had brain cancer last year)... but more so because it hit home in a way that very few celeberties deaths have ever hit me.

Gary wasn't my favorite baseball player... hell he wasn't even my favorite Mets' catcher (Hi Mike Piazza) ... but Gary held a special place in my heart due to the fact he was the first real SUPERSTAR to go to the Mets in their rise from basement dwellers of the late 70s and early 80s. I know that is strange to hear from me, since my favorite baseball player of all time is Keith Hernandez who was traded from the Cardinals to the Mets in 1983, but Keith's star was a little dimmed at the time and he didn't have the "SUPERSTAR!!!!" tag on him like Gary did in 1984.

I still remember getting the paper the day after the trade. I was fourteen years old and was a rabid Mets fan. Back in '84 there was no 24 HR sports radio or internet and I was not the type to watch the news at night, so I didn't even know about the trade until Newsday came the next day. I was totally taken aback. I had watched Carter win the 1984 All-Star Game MVP award with his home run and it never occured to me he could be a Met. I liked Hubie Brooks (who went to the Expos along with Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winning ham and Floyd Youmans) a lot and thought he was going to be a great player, but to get Carter... wow.

I remember certain moments from Carter's career like they were yesterday. Of course two of the largest were his first game as a Met (the 19th inning homerun off of Cardinals closer Neil Allen) and his rally-starting at-bat with two outs in the 10th inning of Game Six of the '86 World Series (which overshadowed the almost equally as important Game Four Carter performace when he hit 2 home runs over the Green Monster).

There isn't much more I can say about Gary Carter than what has been said in the last 24 hours. He was a great baseball player, as well as a great role model. He was a great big boyscout on a team that partied hard in the '86 Mets. He was a family man who played the game right and led life right. I remember hearing how Carter was a guy the other teams hated, but once he was on YOUR team, everyone though he was great.

As a Mets fan, I obviously don't have a lot of great winning memories to pull out of the hat... so of course 1986 is highest on the charts. Carter was a huge... HUGE part of that. I remember sitting on the edge of my couch, watching the 10th inning of Game Six an dafter Hernandez made out, I was totally deflated. I kicked the tv off and stormed out of the room. But only seconds later I stormed back in and turned the TV back on. I didn't want to see them lose, but I couldn't stay away. I paced back and forth, in an aggressive stride as Carter battled and get on base with a solid hit. I paced back and forth for the rest of the inning and when it was over I exploded in a way I have rarely been able to explode. The joy I felt was incredible... and it wouldn't have been there is not for Gary's great at-bat and hit to start it all.

Gary's passing is something else to me. It's the death of a small part of my childhood. That sounds dramatic... maybe in an Emo way... but Gary, along with Mex, Doc, Straw, Nails, Mookie, El Sid, Darling and the rest was a huge part of my childhood. Especially in 1985 and 1986. I averaged watching about 145 games a year. Missed very few. Went to a few games a year but mostly watched on Sportschannel (HBO) and on Channel Nine. It was a great part of it... watching those games and learning so much about baseball... about life. The ups and downs of the game are like the ups and downs of real life... in were you have to learn to handle them both correctly and get balance between the two. Never be too up... never get too down.

Gary was a huge part of that. I'm miss him for a lot of reasons.

Rest in Peace Kid.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mets vs. Marlins - Team Comparisons: THE HITTERS

As I stated in an earlier post... I'm hearing a lot on how the Marlins are a team that are expected to contend in 2012, yet the Mets are a team that would be considered luck to win 75 games.

I may be alone in this... but not only do I think the Marlins will likely NOT contend... I don't think they are a better team than the Mets are.

This isn't to say the Mets are better than the Marlins. This is to say that they are fairly even teams with some things that could push either team above the other. And to count ONE as a playoff contender and not the other is pretty unfair.

So I'll be breaking down the two teams and looking at some of what we could expect. Let's take a little look at some of the comparisons.

NY METS: Ike Davis
MIAMI MARLINS: Gabby Sanchez

So we have two young players who have both shown some promise here. Davis has a VERY solid rookie season and if he can hit like he did in the 36 games he played last year (.302/.383/.543) then he's an All-Star candidate. He's also an excellent glove at first. Sanchez is a decent


NY METS: Daniel Murphy

Murphy won't hit for much power and he does need to up his walk total,but as he's shown over the last three seasons, when he's healthy... he hits. He's more than capable of batting .325 rather easily. His defense isn't too good... he fields fine but turning double plays and making the pivit is an adventure every time. It couyld be worse. He could field like Dan Uggla. He needs to improve on this. Infante


NY METS: Ruben Tejada

Wow it was weird typing that. Yeah, I'm not going to do anything stupid like comparing these two. Reyes is one of the best shortstops in baseball and when he's fully healthy is one of the most dynamic players period. If he's healthy this season (and you do have to say "if". Let's face it, there HAS to be some concern considering his history the last few years) then he should put up solid numbers and create his usual havoc on the basepaths. Tejada posted a .360 OBP in 2011 and isn't likely to hit much, but should be capable of getting on base at a fairly decent clip. Remember, he's only 21 years old. He doesn't have any power, but his glove is fantastic and he could very well turn out to be one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball. Reyes is no slouch with the glove himself and is better than average as a defender. I think the Mets could do worse at shortstop and should be in fairly decent hands... but he's not even half of what Reyes is.


NY METS: David Wright
MIAMI MARLINS: Hanley Ramirez

David Wright had a lousy 2011. Amazingly, Hanley Ramirez might have had a worse one. The major difference? Ramirez is playing a position he doesn't want to play and is also a fairly large malcontent on his team. His attitude stinks. He's a whiner and a dogger. He's going to be over shadowed bt Jose Reyes and he knows it and it bothers him. He's also a defensive liability. Wright, is a stand up guy and a hard worker. His attitude is tremendous. He's pretty much the unquestioned leader of his team. He's got a good glove, but a lousy arm. I expect both to have seasons much closer to what we'd expect. There's also a chance both could find themselves on other teams before the season is out. I give Wright the edge here for two reasons... he won't be a blight on his own team and he won't be a guy who slips into dog-it mode when he's not interested.


NY METS: Josh Thole

Neither catcher is anything special. Both has shown small samples of some power, but not consistantly. Both have decent gloves and call decent games. The only reason I give Thole the nod here is because his


NY METS: Andres Torres
MIAMI MARLINS: Emilio Bonifacio


NY METS: Lucas Duda

I think Duda is going to be a soild bat for the Mets in 2012. He has power enough to project for 28/30 home ruins over the course of an entire season. His defense isn't great though. He's not a disaster, but he's not going to impress much with his glove either. Mike Stanton is... well... he's likely to be a legit MVP candidate. If he can continue on the trend he's been on he last two years, then he's going to be a feared bat. His batting average is going to be a little low (think .262 or so) and his strike outs are a bit of a concern. With 166 of them last year and 123 in only 396 at-bats the year before, you'd like to see him try and lower that total. Overall though, he's liely the new Adam Dunn. I can see him hitting 40 home runs. Duda is going to be good. Stanton already is and might be great.


NY METS: Jason Bay
MIAMI MARLINS: Logan Morrison
Not that Morrison is anything major to write home about, but Bay needs to show he remembers how to play baseball before we can trust him at all. No real way to defend him right now.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why are the Marlins better?

You know what I get a kick out of? I get a kick out of the notion that every time I hear about how terrible the Mets are, they point to the last two seasons performance and say how the team isn't any better, so it cannot perform better. Then I hear about how other teams who had problems they year before or so will be able to rise above those issues.

I'll be more specific for one in particular. Mainly... why are the Marlins considered a team that can contend in 2012?

I mean, I know why people will say. But I don't understand WHY.

Last year the Marlins finished behind the Mets. The last two years the Mets were not able to contend in the second half of the season. The last two years the Mets HAD Jose Reyes.

So, why are the Marlins suddenly a possible powerhouse because they added Jose Reyes?

Yeah, I know they added Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle... But while those are good players, how much better do they really make the Marlins?

2011 Closer Leo Nunez had 33 saves this past season (and 89 total since 2009). He wasn't flashy and he wasn't great, but he wasn't bad either. There has been rumblings about Bell not fairing as well pitching outside of San Diego. Bell experienced a drop in performance in 2011, and that drop, while certainly not encouraging, may not be a real cause for concern going forward for the Marlins... but even if he takes only a slight step downwards, he's still not a ton better. He's likely more consistant and dependable, but it's not like they had garbage there before. The upswing isn't dramatic.

Buehrle is basically going to replace Javy Vazquez, who may have been terrible in his first seven to eight starts of the season, but was fairly lights out the rest of the way with a 2.70 ERA in 153.1 innings. Is Buehrle really going to be much better than that? As with Bell, he's a very good player but he's not a big improvement over what they had before. He's averaged about 13 wins and an ERA about 4.05 the last few years. Yes, he should fare better in the NL than he did in the AL... but again... by much much better is he going to be than what they had in Vazquez for most of 2011?

The big thing with The Marlins is going to be the return of Josh Johnson, and the expectation (which is a fair expectation to have) that Hanley Rameriez will return to his normal self after a disasterous 2011 Season.

To me, the Marlins 2012 success relies heavily upon Johnson. If he comes back and is the same, the Marlins have an arm that can match up with the best in the MLB. Johnson is lights out and is on par with names like Halliday, Lee, Lincecum, Sabathia and Lester. If he's not the samee... say he's at like 75% of what he was, he'll still likely be better than a large chunk of other pitchers, which would still improve the Marlins from 2011. If he cannot pitch to anything close to his regular form or if he's unable to return at all or only makes like 10-12 starts for the season, it's going to hurt them. A lot.

Which brings us back to Reyes.

In 2010 the Marlins finished 80-82. At the time they had a great season from John Johnson and Hanley Rameriz and still had all-star second baseman Dan Uggla who hit .287 with 33 HRs and 105 RBI.

I know Reyes is a different player than Uggla... but the Marlins couldn't even finish at .500 that year.

In both 2010 AND 2011, the Mets were picked as a team who would not really be in contention. Yet, both years they had Reyes... and David Wright... and Jason Bay... and Johan Santana... and Carlos Beltran... and K-Rod...

See where I'm going here?

So.. I put the question again... why just by adding the three players they did, suddenly make a team that has finished below .500 the last two years suddenly a team that is expected to contend?

Cause I don't see it. In fact, I'll go one further...

The Marlins... with their question marks... and the brittle Reyes as their centerpiece (fair is fair... I had to listen ever year how the Mets couldn't fully expect Reyes to go the whole season without a DL trip or two) are NOT a team you can say is fully better than the Mets.

(And no, I have NOT forgotten about Carlos Zambrano. I don't think that was a good move for them and do not expect a lot from him.)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Relax There Yankee Fans

Last night the Yankees, who have been so quiet this offseason that you had to wonder if they were actually awake, made two moves that seems to be the equivelant of the wild Sabathia/Teixeria signings back in 2008.

Or at least, everything I have heard and read this morning is putting that much weight into these moves.

First, the Yanks moved top catching rookie Jesus Montero to the Mariners for their 22-year old phenom pitcher Michael Pineda. Yeah there were other players involved also but overall that's the main jist of it.

They like, 40 minutes later they signed Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year $10 Million dollar contract.

And suddenly, the Yankees biggest weakness (the starting rotation) is a major strength.

Last night, driving home I heard the 1050 ESPN Radio host (Not sure who it was) say "The Yankees now have the best rotation in baseball."

Jason Stark on the ESPN website touted how great these moves where, calling both pitchers "high end". He considers Pineda the Yanks #2 pitcher.

On the boards of the ESPN and MLB websites, a majority of Yankee fans are cheering and pretty much considering the moves as a meaning the Yankees should be considered World Series favorites.

And all of this could be true.

Or then again, it might not.

These moves could certainly be winning moves, but I do think you have to step back a little.

Pineda does have a high ceiling, but please do not say he's the no-doubt future ace of this team. His second half last year and ERA away from home (Safeco) is something to be worked on. It looks like a good trade for both sides at the moment, but it's going to be a while before you can say for sure. Pindea could go 15-7 witrh a 3.57 ERA this year and Montero could hit .264 with 19 home runs and 67 RBI and it'll be "What a steal for the Yanks!" then over the next five years Montero averages 35 HR/115 RBI and Pindea goes 57-53 with a 4.49 ERA and then you'd have to reconsider that thought.

In the end it'll likely be 2014 before you can really even start to evaluate the trade. Could be a great one, could be a disaster, could just be "Not bad". Just don't pencil Pineda in for greatness yet. Remember how good Fausto Carmona was in his rookie year and how he was the next Cleveland Ace? I'm not saying Pineda will be the same, I'm just saying it's not a lock he's a 16-18 game winner over the next seven seasons.

Montero had no where to play with the Yanks. I happen to think he will be an excellent and feared hitter in his career. A David Ortiz/Edgar Martienez type, but this move made sense for the Yanks who need pitching WAY more than hitting right now. I think there is a risk for NY here with this move, but it's a risk that makes sense when you consider they have another highly touted catchering prospect who will likely be ready in 2013 (2014 the latest).

Also, for all the talk of "There's a reason the Yanks kept dangling Monero in trade talks the last two years" you have to wonder... why would the Mariners be so quick to trade a 22 year old young power pitcher who was making no money what-so-ever?

You know, one thing I am getting a kick out of... for the last TWO YEARS I have had every Yankee fan I know and about 95% of the ones posting in forums on how incredible Montero's bat was and how great of a prostect he was and how he was going to be Miguel Cabrera/David Ortiz/Jason Giambi all over again.

Now he's traded and suddenly so many Yankee fans say he's a guy who can't play a position and you can't compare him to those guys anymore.

So have the last two years of touting been a mirage? Or is it just that once a guy is off your team he's suddenly no longer as attractive?

It's like the Mets fans who are "glad" Jose Reyes is gone because he was a DL/Injury riddled guy who celebrated too much and cheated to take himself out of the last game of the season last year to win the batting title.and wasn't worth the money.

Pineda looks to be a real good pickup, but c'mon... don't suddenly discount all of the building up on Montero just because he's no longer a Yankee.

You also have to take into consideration that Pineda will be under some pressure and have a spotlight on him this season. He'll be touted as the "Can't Miss" 22-year old Phenom future Ace. Especially in the New York media. Forget it he's already penciled in as the Yanks #2 starter. There will be a lot of spotlight and pressure to not be a bust after the yanks traded away their #1 prospect who they have been saying has the bat of a Miguel Cabrera for the last two years.

But that doesn't mean the kid can't handle it. For all we know he's a perfect fit for New York. We won't know for a while. You would have to say the future looks promising and bright. It's not definite, but there is no reason not to be optimistic.

But he will have a spotlight glare on him though. No way to avoid that.

As for Kiroda, his 3.07 ERA was excellent last year and throughout his four year MLB career his ERA has been pretty good. However remember he did lose 16 games last year, has only has one season in his career with a winning record (8-7 in 2009), has never pitched in the American League and he'll be 37 years old. The one year deal means there is little risk here, it's not like he got a three year $32 million deal, but he's also not exactly a "no-doubt" guy. I would kind of expect simular numbers to what you were getting out of Javier Vasquez in his second go-round with the Yanks.

So, yes, these seem to be good moves and the Yanks rotation looks miles better today than yesterday, but I wouldn't go TOO crazy just yet. I heard the radio host on 1050 ESPN radio last night say "The Yankees now have the best rotation in baseball" which is just a stupid comment. Relax a little

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mets rotation might be a little better than people think

Looking at the (expected) starting rotation for the Mets might bring a wince or sad head-shake. The concensis is that the Mets have the worst rotation in the NL East. I'm not here to try and convince you otherwise. However I do want to try and show how the rotation isn't exactly a disaster, like I'm constantly reading this offseason, either.

At first glance, here is your likely starting five:
1. Johan Santana
2. R. A. Dickey
3. Jon Niese
4. Mike Pelfry
5. Dillon Gee

Considering Santana missed the entire 2011 Season and is not expected to be the pitcher he was before his shoulder surgery then this rotation won't make anyone sweat too much. You have no-one that would be considered a "stopper", but the idea that the Mets rotation is BAD is incorrect.

You don't know what you will get from Santana, but you might be looking at the type of pitcher David Cone became after he was unable to blow fastballs past hitters in the latter part of his career. Many have said that 70% of Johan Santana is still going to be be better than a large chunk of other pitchers.

R. A. Dickey has had two straight solid seasons. His breakout 2010 was followed up with a nice 2011 where he had career bests in starts, ininngs and strike outs. His 3.28 ERA was 12th best in the NL. He keeps the Mets in games he pitches and his ERA over the last two seasons is 3.08.

Jonathan Niese has been solid the last two years when healthy and has a lot of upside that could see him in this rotation for a long time, even when the young promising arms of Harvey and Wheeler get to town. He's a craft lefty who throws in the 90s, strikes out hitters and doesn't walk many, while getting a nice amount of groundballs. With a good defense behind him it's not out of the question for Niese to have a breakout 2012.

Mike Pelfry is an enigma. His last four seasons he has teetered back and forth between strong and infurating. In 2008 he went 13-11 with a 3.72 ERA. He had a great second half that year and 2009 looked promising, however he stumbled with a 10-12 record and a rough 5.03 ERA. Then in 2010 he bounced right back and had a great season in which he went 15-9 with a 3.66 ERA and at one point in June and July was without doubt the Mets best pitcher. Then in 2011 he dropped back again going 7-13 with a 4.74 ERA. At times he's dominating and other times he's maddening. This really is the "now or never" year for him I think. Which Pelfrey will the Mets get? If it's the 2008 or 2010 model He's a potenial #2. If it's the 2009 or 2011 model he's at best a #4 and likely more a #5.

Dillon Gee had a solid start to his rookie season, but faded in the last third of the season. He went 13-6 with a 4.43 ERA but at the end of June was 8-1 with a 3.32 ERA and at the end of July was 10-3 with a 3.69 ERA. He had a rough Sept but showed a lot of promise and poise. He had 114 strike-outs in 160.2 innings but did walk 71. If he can cut those walks down his upside can be high.

The entire NL East has a lot of quality pitching in it. The Mets may not be at the top, but this notion their rotation is terrible makes no sense.