Thursday, March 31, 2011

Warning... Food Porn

One thing no fan of baseball will deny about the Met's stadium is the great variety and taste of food choices available. Now... we won't get into a competition between Citi Field and say... Camden Yards but... we will get into an internal competition between the contenders AT Citi Field.

Fifth Place: Tacos

Now... call me biased because I'm not a fan of tacos in general, but I want something slightly easier to eat when in the confines of a stadium. Plus, when you factor in: Sour Cream, Guacamole, Salsa and other sauces you are eating a soupy mess and ruining your favorite jersey.

Fourth Place: Knishes

If the Wilpons really wanted to appeal to the Jewish community they'd offer Kosher Chinese food. Wait... maybe that's already in the works. Anywho... I have a friend who is a big fan of this starchy snack so I'll talk about it. It beats the taco in terms of stadium fare as it's got great portability. It loses handily in taste as... well... it hasn't got any. Sure you can dip it in mustard or ketchup but for my money give me fries. When is Citi Field gonna open a place that serves chopped liver and gefilte fish?

Third Place: Pulled Pork

Finally... something I actually like eating. My issue with the version at Citi Field is not the mess factor but the taste. I like my pulled pork saucy and there's... not so much. It is good, but hardly worthy of a second glance. If you want good pulled pork, go to Virgil's in time square.

Second Place: Italian Heroes

Not subs, not grinders and certainly never hoagies. This is as American as... well... half the stuff we claim to be American. Riddle me this though, if you were to be watching the game at home... what would you like to be eating. My guess is that more than one person will raise their hand for an Italian Hero.

First Place: Shack Attack

When cows are chopped up to bits and turned into ground chuck. They dream of being turned into a shack burger. You say, "So what? My stadium serves burgers." No, my friend, your stadium serves meat sandwiches that look like burgers. A shack burger IS what your BASIC burger is meant to be. Sure... we all have our tastes. Bleu Cheese, Barbecue with Fried Onions or my favorite Peking Duck Burger, (Burger Deluxe on Rte 23 North) but if we are being purists... we all know that a burger is meat + cheese + bun + lettuce and tomato and the pure carnal joy of chewing.

If you get the chance, check out the not stadium locations of Shake Shack. YES... you will need to wait in line. YES... the line does wrap half way around Madison Square Park. Just do it. Okay? Pick me up a "Great White Way" while your at it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Anatomy of a Knuckler

Now... I'm not a pro baseball player, or a pro athlete of any sort but I am still qualified to explain the intricacies of a knuckling baseball. For the layman, a knuckleball is a pitch that flutters around and breaks somewhat randomly. They are usually not thrown hard and are not common as they are very difficult to throw for strikes. The idea is to throw the baseball and put NO spin on the ball. Try it, it isn't easy to do.

In baseball, the usual method to achieve a good knuckle is to dig your nails into the ball, leave a gap between the ball and your palm and PUSH the ball towards home. I can barely throw a ball from a pro mound to the catcher with my noodle of an arm, so just imagine trying to do that without snapping your wrist.

I may not be able to throw a baseball and make it knuckle, but... I don't play baseball particularly well. I AM a pretty decent volleyball player. I can serve with top spin, side spin, deaden the ball or make it heavy. I can also serve a volleyball with NO SPIN and make it knuckle. The how of this serve is less important than the why. What purpose does it serve?

For that, you have to have had a knuckleball thrown at you. In volleyball, where the ball is larger and more forgiving, a knuckling serve will likely force the passer to hit the ball in such a way as to make the setter scramble. If that happens, his team will likely not get a clean spike off the serve. In baseball you need to time and aim your swing on a much smaller, harder and faster ball. In that last second, if the ball dips, you could ground out to the Short Stop, if it stays up, you could pop out to the catcher or if it does something REALLY odd, you could swing and miss all together.

Why doesn't EVERYONE throw them then? Well... here's the thing. First, they're wicked hard to throw. Second, they're mighty hard to disguise, so batters can see them coming. Third, mistakes are pretty dreadful. Ever seen a hanging knuckler? Ever gone to a batting cage and set it to the lowest setting? It's sorta the same thing. Do something wrong and the chance that someone is going to get a pretty good rip... is pretty good.

What makes R.A. Dickey and Tim Wakfield special? Is it the facial hair? Is it the everyman mentality? Is it simply that they can get a knuckling baseball to travel from their hand to a catchers mitt 60 feet away? Yeah... it's probably that one.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Brad Needs To Grow Eyes In Back Of Head

Brad Emaus is OFFICIALLY the starting second baseman for the Mets. It wasn't my ideal candidate... he's not capable of turning double plays so good... but it was probably the second most desirable option I had going into the season. However... Brad may have won the job, but the Mets aren't exactly going to give him a lot of rope to hang himself with.

Brad Emaus - Known for his good eye and larger than average frame (for a 2B) Emaus projects to be a fine hitter. Considering options... having Emaus and Thole at the back of your lineup is pretty good. Both players hit for contact and will force pitchers to work. Emaus and Thole HAVE to be better at driving in runners than say... Luis Castillo, who in the best of situations was not the guy you wanted with runners in scoring position.

Daniel Murphy - Sitting on the bench with a glove made of stone, Daniel Murphy represents a left handed hitting option. He is a better overall hitter than Emaus (more prone to K and less to BB) but he can't TRULY field the position. What happens if Emaus doesn't hit for a month and Murphy looks like a beast off the bench? Can Terry Collins resist throwing Murphy out there to start? Can he handle the position well enough for Met fans to forgive the inevitable extra outs he'd be giving teams?

Justin Turner - Turner is the most likely person to be promoted, if Emaus failed. He can play the position pretty well and isn't a useless hitter. He will not be the PHENOMENAL hitter we saw in AAA last year, but he could probably hold his own in the bottom third of an NL lineup. While Turner is the most likely name you'll hear bandied about... he's the least exciting. There is a low ceiling on Turner and that isn't the end of the world but it also isn't something to write home about.

Ruben Tejada - Tejada is going to be playing SS in AAA preparing to compete to play SS in 2012. But... let us say that Reyes is not going to leave town. Then we no longer need Tejada at short. If he isn't needed there, then the Mets know his defense is up to snuff. His hitting... well... I'm less pessimistic than I was pre-spring. He hits well... situation-ally, meaning he can advance the runner and drive in runners in scoring position. He also can slap a single. What I NEED to see Ruben do, is swipe a bag. When he can do that, he's a major league starter and I put him pretty high in the mix.

Jordany Valdespin - For those of you who refuse to learn this name... be ready for next spring when he's the lead candidate to replace Reyes. Faster and more powerful than Tejada with a solid glove, he seems like he'd be ready RIGHT NOW to compete for that job that Emaus just won. There is a problem though... Valdespin can't take walks. Emaus is the OBP guy and that is what Alderson and his cronies are looking for. Jordany is probably going to be bumped down to AA by the sheer number of middle infielders the Mets have but he could easily make that jump to the majors if he gets hot.

Reese Havens - Wait a second, Reese Havens is supposed to be the Met's top 2B prospect... why is he down here? Well... while Havens spent last season mainly in recovery... Others stepped up their games. Reese is still a hitting machine who might be an ALL-STAR 2B in time, but the Mets want to wait and see. He is going to need to crush AA/AAA pitching for over a month to force this new regime to bring him up as early as May or June. I would imagine that Reese will get a chance to cut his teeth in 2011 but won't get a true shot at the lineup until 2012.

Joshua Satin - The man with the glorious eyebrows that you see to the left is Joshua Satin. A man without a position, who spends a lot of time DH-ing. He has played 2B, 1B and OF in recent years. He's also steadily risen through the ranks and displayed a good ability to hit. HOWEVER... I think I'm not alone in seeing Mr. Satin as another Daniel Murphy. A man who can be on the bench and play multiple roles but not someone who is going to be a major league starter anywhere.

Wally Backman/Tim Teufel - If all else fails... The Mets have a few second basemen in the minors that I haven't yet mentioned. These are veterans with proven success in Met uniform. They might be a little old, slow and surly, but I think that it's good to put them on the radar too... just in case.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Phantasy Baseball

As you might know from being a friend or reading the blog, I play in a few fantasy sports leagues a year. I've run a fantasy baseball keeper league for the past three seasons and have played in various others. I'm not a Fantasy expert or anything but I have been pretty good about drafting players and making shrewd trades. Here are some fantasy notes:

Rotisserie vs. Head-To-Head: Neither is better but I definitely prefer one to the other. Rotisserie leagues tabulate your players on an on-going basis and it's always seemed too much like a Statistics class for me to enjoy it. Head-To-Head leagues give you weekly matches vs. other teams so... you can pretend your fantasy team is a real team with a real record.

To Keep or Not To Keep: I'm a big fan of keeper leagues. My own league is extreme, with 20 teams and 12 keepers, it's a bit TOO extreme, but I love it. If you are going to play with the same group of people year after year, give keepers a shot. It lets the fantasy element run through the off-season and that is half the fun.

Auction Leagues: I sorta love the idea of an auction league. It makes drafts so much more fun and it adds another element, should you be running a keeper league. I was in a draft last night and spent $4 on Adam Wainwright. I did this because it IS a keeper league and Wainwright's value is sure to sky-rocket above $4 in 2012. I also spent $9 on Logan Morrison... nobody's perfect.

No matter what type of league you try, be sure not to get too wrapped up in things and too upset when things go wrong. I know I've done that and it's just not worth it.

Up This Week:

Emaus Needs To Watch Himself - Brad Emaus is not safe in his role as starting second baseman. Which Mets wait in the wings to stab him in the back?

Hitting the Knuckler - What it's like to hit a knuckle ball.

I'm Hungry - Best food at Citi-Field.

Season Preview - Are you ready for some baseball?

I'll be on vacation next week so get it while it's hot.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Port St. Lucie 500

We've hit the home stretch, with the season opener only 6 games away. The races are all drawing to a close and some are already done and over with. All that we're left with is the things we know and the things we don't.

The Bench:

What We Know:

Ronny Paulino - Ronny Paulino will be up as the Mets secondary catcher as soon as the league will let him. HOWEVER... after Thole's super impressive spring... he might see a VERY small share of the platoon.

Scott Hairston - Scott Hairston locked up his spot on the bench the minute he signed his deal. He's also had a good spring, but he might NOT be on the bench. If Beltran is out, he might be the starting RF.

Willie Harris - Harris might be platooning with Hairston in RF while Beltran is sidelined. Met fans will scream and rave for Duda though.

Daniel Murphy - Murphy's glove was not up to 2B full time, but he will see ABs with regularity and see time backing up Wright, Davis and the Second Baseman.

Chin-Lung Hu - Hu was another lock from the moment that he landed on the Mets. He's not a long-term solution but if he plays well he could sign a low multi-year deal to be a bench player.

What We Don't Know:

Lucas Duda - Lucas Duda is the fan favorite to step in for an injured Beltran. The issue is that Duda has options and Evans does not.

Nick Evans - Let us say that Beltran does start the year on the DL. Alderson might opt to have Harris platoon to protect Evans from the waiver wire. It doesn't make GREAT sense but it does make SOME sense.

The Rotation:

Mike Pelfrey - Mr. Psycho, he's not going to blow you away. Mike Pelfrey is going to be the Met's #1 starter and that is based mostly on last season's success. Many people worry if his spring training woes will be reflected in the regular season.

Jonathan Niese - The Nose, knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men... he can smell it. Niese looks like he could be a break-out candidate in 2011. That could be my rose tinted Lennon specs though.

R.A. Dickey - Everyman, you can't help but like him because somewhere in Dickey... you see a little of yourself... or who you wish you could be. Capuano said, this morning, that he doesn't know how anyone can hit Dickey's pitching. He hasn't been as great as he was last year but... he wasn't that great last SPRING either.

Chris Young - Green Giant, Ho ho ho... Young looks about as solid and steady as almost any starter I've watched this spring. I think that a healthy season could see him return to 10+ wins easily.

Chris Capuano - Mets lower rotation... It's Chris-mas! Of the Chris', Capuano is the lefty. You might be confused because both are fairly intelligent, both are Caucasian and both could have great careers outside baseball.

The Bullpen:
What We Know:

Francisco Rodriguez - Frankie looks REALLY good. So good... that I think the Mets will be forced into his option.

Bobby Parnell - Parnell has been mixed in his outings but his job is safe.

Tim Byrdak - With O'Connor and Perez gone, nothing stands between Byrdak and global domina- I mean... being the lefty specialist.

Taylor Buchholz - Buchholz looks like he might end up being the 8th inning guy.

D.J. Carrasco - Carrasco has been good enough to get a job by anyone's standards... PLUS he's got a two year deal.

What We Don't Know:

Jason Isringhausen - Is he healthy NOW? Will he be healthy TOMORROW? What about a week from Thursday? If the Mets think Izzy can stay healthy, he's going to get a job.

Pedro Beato - Beato is near a lock too. He's got a great arm and he's a rule 5 pick. I can't see a scenario where the Mets don't keep him.

Manny Accosta - Accosta has done everything right... but is looking in from the outside. Don't feel too bad as he's sure to get a job somewhere if the Mets need to put him on waivers.

Blaine Boyer - Boyer has pitched REALLY well. Who has noticed... well... quite a few people. I think he's a long-shot to make the bullpen though.

Second Base:

Brad Emaus - Brad Emaus only faked his death as he carefully manipulated things from the shadows. Proving Murphy couldn't handle the position was rough and it was harder to get the bear to fall and crush Castillo all the way onto the Phillies... but he did it. Now... well... Emaus has proven he's alive. He went 4 for 4 yesterday with multiple hits against Jaime Garcia... PLUS a HR. He's drawn the walks he was touted for and finally looks to be pulling away with the position... as he was expected to.

Luis Hernandez - Henandez is still technically in the race but it's once again a long shot and I, for one, am happy about that.

Phlavio's 25:

Lineup: 8
1. Jose Reyes, SS (S)
2. Angel Pagan, CF (S)
3. David Wright, 3B (R)
4. Ike Davis, 1B (L)
5. Jason Bay, LF (R)
6. Scott Hairston, RF (R)
7. Josh Thole, C (L)
8. Brad Emaus, 2B (R)

Bench: 5
1. Ronny Paulino, C (R)
2. Willie Harris, OF (L)
3. Nick Evans, 1B/OF (R)
4. Daniel Murphy, IF (L)
5. Chin-Lung Hu, IF (R)

Rotation: 5
1. Mike Pelfrey, SP (R)
2. Jonathan Niese, SP (L)
3. R.A. Dickey, SP (R)
4. Chris Young, SP (R)
5. Chris Capuano, SP (L)

Bullpen: 7
CL. Francisco Rodriguez, RP (R)
SU. Taylor Buchholz, RP (R)
SU. Bobby Parnell, RP (R)
MR. Jason Isringhausen, RP (R)
MR. Pedro Beato, RP (R)
LHSP. Tim Byrdak, RP (L)
LR. D.J. Carrasco, RP (R)

Thoughts: The lineup looks a lot better with Beltran in it, but even without his presence, it's pretty solid. The bench, in my opinion, is great. You have hitting and defense and presence from both sides of the plate. (Duda would improve that.) The rotation is fine... a little vanilla maybe, but in Citi-Field they should keep the Mets in the game. The bullpen looks like a REAL strength. NOTE: if the Mets are sellers, only Beato and Parnell are guys the Mets would need to hold on to.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Who Ya Gonna Call?

There is something weird in the neighborhood, but I'm not sure Bill Murray can help the Mets this season. Perhaps it's enough that the Mets have contained some of their ghosts using proton packs and traps and some financial freedom from the Wilpons. Hopefully Alderson, DePodesta and Collins won't cross the streams. Why? Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light. That's why.

The Gatekeeper: Zuul

Who holds the Mets 2011 in check? Is it Carlos Beltran and his whacky knee? Johan Santana and his rehab program? Jose Reyes and his walk year? No silly... it's Mike Pelfrey and his shaky confidence.

Mike Pelfrey is being called upon to Ace the Met rotation in the absence of Johan Sanatana. Th problem seems to be that he has forgotten he's a capable pitcher. Survey says yes but I'm gaining doubts every time I see Mike pitch. He's getting hit and getting hit hard. It's only spring but I'm a worrier.

The Key Master: Vinz Cortho

Who holds the key to Pelfrey and the Met's 2011 success? Is it David Wright's bat? Jason Bay's brain? Ike Davis' rugged good looks? Jonathan Niese enormous nose? R.A. Dickey majestic beard? Wrong again, it's Josh Thole.

Josh Thole is not only the most improved offensive player from 2010 but he's also going to be the secret to our success or failure as a team. I'm not talking about his improved power (might hit 8 HRs) or his improved defense. It's how he's going to handle the Met pitchers. I'm hoping he enrolled in some psychology courses because when Pelfrey's Super Ego and Id go at it... it's ugly.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Below Knee!

I'm sitting here in Port St. Lucie with the lower 3/4's of Carlos Beltran's right leg. The upper 50% of which has been the cause for much consternation amongst Met fans. Carlos was not available for comment, but while I have his knee's attention, I thought I'd ask it some questions. The following, is an interview (through an interpreter) between me and the Mets right fielders knee joint.

Phlavio: Thank you for taking some time out from your busy schedule of teasing and taunting Met fans to meet with me.

Knee: No problem, I just had a cortisone shot, so forgive me if I seem a bit groggy.

Phlavio: How long have you and Carlos been working together?

Knee: Three months short of 34 years. For May and June of 1977 I was fairly confident I could make it as a solo career.

Phlavio: When did you and Carlos start having problems?

Knee: We'd argue on and off from time to time, but I decided to put my cap down in 2009.

Phlavio: What was the issue?

Knee: You know, I'm young for a knee, but I've taken so much abuse. I just wanted a chance to live the high-life. Not play second fiddle to Carlos' hitting and fielding.

Phlavio: So you sabotaged his baseball career for a turn in the spot-light?

Knee: I wouldn't use those words.

Phlavio: How would you phrase it?

Knee: I decided to become more outspoken about my needs.

Phlavio: How has that worked out?

Knee: Honestly the attention was great at first, but now I feel like I've become a bit of a scape goat. Everyone pointing fingers at me, Castillo and Perez for the decline of the Mets. Is it wrong for collection of tendons, bones and muscles to speak their mind at the expense of a baseball player and his team?

Phlavio: In my opinion... Yes.

Knee: Well, sorry.

Phlavio: Have you and Beltran come to an agreement?

Knee: We're in negotiations but I think that I still deserve at least 50% of the focus through the 2011 season.

Phlavio: What about after baseball?

Knee: We're thinking of auditioning to play Spider Man on Broadway.

Phlavio: Break a leg! Sorry, poor choice of words.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Perfect Owner

With Jeff and Fred being forced to pay for their friendship with a crook, the Mets are facing a change in ownership. I decided to nominate some of my own candidates for the position.

The Monopoly Guy:

Experience: Real Estate Tycoon

Finances: Collects $200 Just For Passing Go

Pitfalls: Winds Up In Jail

Random Fact: Won $10 In A Beauty Pageant AND Landed On Free Parking On Same Turn (Rolled Doubles).

The Monopoly Guy, with his top hat and suit would clearly bring some class to the Mets. He'd also bring Chance and Community Chest... so... pretty spiffy. If he were to buy the Mets:
  • We'd first see changes as small green homes would crop up at Citi Field
  • These would eventually be replaced by large red hotels
  • Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez would be replaced by a thimble and a shoe and a shoe
  • Team moved to Atlantic City

Lady Ga Ga:

Experience: Wore Meat To Award Show

Finances: Music Millions

Pitfalls: Trapped Inside An Egg

Secret Plans: Re-Design the Mets uniforms to include prosthetic horns and scales.

Ms. Ga Ga is not what everyone would like an owner to be. However, she might bring a youthful female element to games and boost attendance. If she were to take over the team:
  • Agents would have difficulty with her poker face
  • Players would get bonuses for exposing themselves publicly
  • Elton John hired as manager

Mr. Magoo:

Experience: Survivor Of Countless Blind Gage

Finances: Millions Of Cartoon Dollars

Pitfalls: Would Have No Clue What Was Going On

Random Fact: Without glasses looks quite a bit like my grandfather.

Mr. Magoo was just a bumbling old man who refused to admit he couldn't see anything. He happily walked through life, narrowly escaping death. If he were to buy the Mets:
  • He'd probably end up walking onto the field during a game
  • He'd probably end up playing in said game
  • He'd probably win the Mets the World Series
  • All while thinking he was online for Shake Shack

The Millionaire:

Experience: Managed To Create A Class System On Remote Island

Finances: Wealthy Enough Not To Have Skills

Pitfalls: Trapped On Island With Gilligan

Random Fact: Is played by the same actor as Mr. Magoo.

Mr. Howell would be an excellent owner. He's loaded... and he's somewhat trapped on an island... so he can't interfere with baseball operations. If the Millionaire owned the team:
  • Smoking jackets become mandatory
  • All concession drinks include little pink umbrellas

Darth Vader:

Experience: Dark Lord Of The Sith

Finances: Limitless Coffers Of Galactic Empire

Pitfalls: Hand Frequently Cut Off

Secret Plans: Stolen by rebels and currently stored on droids lost on Tatooine.

Darth... how I miss when you were not played by Hayden Christensen... ANYWAY! Darth Vader is the muscle and force behind Emperor Palpatine. He's also a hideously disfigured man with a breathing apparatus... like a portable iron lung. If Darth bought the club:
  • David Wrights specially designed helmet will look small in comparison
  • Agents mysteriously strangled during negotiations
  • Jawas massacred
  • Jose Reyes convinced that together they can rule the galaxy as father and son

Zombie George:

Experience: Ran The Yankees

Finances: He's Loaded

Pitfalls: Decomposition

Secret Plans: Other than, Brains... he doesn't say much, but my bet is that George Costanza's part of the picture.

George may have passed away, but he might still have more baseball sense than the Wilpons. So... we'll dig him up, dust him off and cast some voodoo magic on him. What's the worst that could happen?
  • Mass death
  • Zombie-Pocalypse
  • Mets Win World Series

Monday, March 21, 2011

8 Nights of Presents

This off season has not been Christmas for Mets fans. We didn't get one GREAT-BIG present, like the Phillies, who got Lee. The Mets got lots of smaller gifts this off-season.

Night 1 - Omar Minaya Demoted:
October 4th 2010

The Mets started their off-season with the ability to make a number of additions via subtraction. The first I credit to the Wilpons. On October 4th Minaya was demoted from his role as GM and the Mets fans knew from that moment that things would change.

Night 2 - Mets Hire Alderson:
October 27th 2010

The Mets then went out and got a GM who was skilled at working on a budget. Somebody who would not extend bloated (long-term) contracts to aging players to find a quick fix. From here on out... it was Sandy's show and I think it's been a good one to watch.

Night 3 - Mets Hire Terry Collins:
November 21st 2010

The Mets opted to not back the fan favorite Wally Backman and instead go with the more moderate Terry Collins. What do I mean by moderate? The Mets wanted someone who would inspire the Mets and get them motivated, but Backman is a little TOO fiery and lacks experience.

Night 4 - Mets Sign Ronny Paulino:
December 7th 2010

Two reasons this makes my list. 1) Paulino is a good catcher and a strong hitter. 2) This said to me that the Mets were going to let Thole become the starting catcher. I really believe that Thole will be a PLUS player and that Paulino is the right type of COMPLIMENT player the Mets needed. Had we gone with Buck or Martin then Thole is back to being a backup.

Night 5 - Mets Sign Chris Young:
January 19th 2011

I harassed Matt Cerrone for weeks begging him for word on Young. I knew that he was the best of the realistic options for the Mets this off season. He had the best floor to ceiling ratio in terms of safety and potential for large reward. Thus far he looks like he could be the #2 pitcher behind Niese.

Night 6 - Mets Release Luis Castillo:
March 18th 2011

The Mets made a tougher call then you might think releasing Castillo. They didn't have a lock on who would replace him, he had had a good spring, and they will end up paying him millions no matter what. Yet the thing Alderson needed to do was to distance himself from Minaya's mistakes and move on to new blood.

Night 7 - Phillies SIGN Luis Castillo:
March 21st 2011

Now... Castillo is probably not going to drop a pop-up vs. the Mets and turn the tide of the Phillies season into the gutter. Though... he might. What this means to me in a metaphoric way, is that the Phillies have attached themselves to a player who has a lot of negativity attached to him and limited things he can bring to the table.

Night 8 - Mets Cut Oliver Perez:
March 21st 2011

I said the day that Alderson was hired, "He has to do two things to earn respect from Met Fans. Release Ollie and Castillo." Now... where Castillo was simply no longer helping... Perez actually HURT the team with his continued presence. I'll also admit that I was one of the people who didn't think the Mets over-payed for him when they signed him. HOWEVER, I've apologized for that already and have been calling for his release since last off-season.

Up This Week:

Dream Ownership: I fantasize about some fantasitcal Mets ownership options.

Shake Your High Knee: I'll interview Carlos Beltran's bum knee and get his take on Carlos' 2011.

The Key-Master: Who is the Vinz Clortho to the Met's Zuul?

And They're Off: Maybe by Friday I'll be able to call the rest of the races?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Amazing Race

It's time for yet another edition of my weekly update on the Races in Met's camp. Some of the races are still wide open and some of them are getting ever closer to to being squared away. This morning Dillon Gee, Boof Bonser, Ryota Iggarashi, Taylor Tankersley, Dusty Ryan, Raul Chavez, Russ Adams and Jason Pridie were assigned to minor-league camp. This doesn't really close the book on most of the races but it does on one.

The Rotation:
Locked and Loaded:

Mike Pelfrey - Mike Pelfrey is the opening day starter regardless of how bad he's looked this spring. Thus far he seems far too hittable and some fans are pointing to the death of his therapist as the root of the issue. Whether it is or not is open for debate but his spot in the rotation is not even open to discussion.

Jonathan Niese - If you read the blog, you know that I love Jonathan Niese above all other healthy Met pitchers... currently on the major-league roster. He looks like he's a front-end starter who is going to go places and that has me excited. I think 2011 could be a break-out year for Niese and his enormous nose.

R.A. Dickey - You can't not like Dickey. TRY. See? He's the man. What with his fast knuckler, slow knuckler and pirate beard. Dickey will be the work-horse of the Mets rotation for the next two years. Knuckle-ballers can through about 9000 pitches before getting tired so I think that's fine.

Chris Young - Chris locked up a rotation spot about a week ago. It was hardly ever in doubt. He's not only looked healthy, but he's looked like he's going to be a PLUS pitcher... not just an inning eater.

Chris Capuano - With Gee gone, Capuano has locked up that 5th starter job. I would prefer the freedom of using Capuano as an LRP/LOOGY but until Santana can join the rotation, the Mets can't afford to do that.

Outside, Looking In:

Dillon Gee - Gee was demoted this morning and I think that it makes sense. Gee will be up this season but given the choice of letting Gee build confidence in AAA and having him flop in the majors... I think the Mets made the right call.

Pat Misch - Poor Misch... I think there is ZERO chance he makes the team. When exposed to waivers he'll likely get snagged by someone who needs a pitcher in AAA in case of emergency. He's done nothing wrong... he's just out of options and the Mets don't need him.

The Bullpen:

Locked and Loaded:

Closer: Francisco Rodriguez - Frankie has looked VERY good this spring. I think he might look good enough that he could be trade-able this season. That's a dream within a dream as the Mets don't want him to have the option lock and could actually get something in return.

Setup: Bobby Parnell - Parnell has made me nervous at times but he's still got a powerful arm and an assured role. He might slide down to Middle Relief if Buchholz or Isringhausen get off to good starts.

LOOGY: Tim Byrdak - Byrdak has won the LOOGY job, despite Perez just entering it. If Ollie gets a role on the team, it won't be at the expense of Byrdak who has looked AWESOME.

In The Mix:

Middle Relief/Long Relief: D.J. Carrasco - I've listed the Mix in order of how likely I think it is they make the team... so this top 4 is a pretty likely bunch. I don't love Carrasco but his two year deal pretty much secure his job.

Middle Relief: Pedro Beato - Mets don't want to lose Beato, who was a rule 5 pick, so expect him to make the team. I think at the same time, he's probably less of lights out reliever than Buchholz or Isringhausen. He's also a very different breed of pitcher.

Middle Relief/Setup: Taylor Buchholz -
Buchholz has been near perfect this spring and could compete to be Frankie's setup guy in April. I still think he gets into trouble with walks.

Middle Relief/Setup: Jason Isringhausen -
Everyone is rooting for Izzy... accept maybe Accosta, Misch and Perez. He's been effective and I thin would be a great asset to the team with his diverse repertoire.

Middle Relief/Long Relief: Manny Accosta -
I only see Manny making the team if Alderson is willing to eat crow on D.J. Carrasco. I like Accosta better. I think he's more talented and has had the better spring but the two year commitment on D.J. looms large.

Long Relief: Pat Misch - Misch is not a lefty specialist. He could be a righty specialist... but that would be a waste. What he is... is an effective innings eater. What he'll be is waived. Yankees might be a team looking to claim.

LOOGY/Long Relief: Oliver Perez - Perez has not yet failed as a lefty specialist but the fact he entered THIS competition late leaves him miles behind Tim Byrdak. His $12 Mil contract and ability to pitch multiple innings puts him a peg over O'Connor.

LOOGY: Mike O'Connor - I'm not a giant fan of Mike but he's had a good spring. Even so... Byrdak has been better and he's easier to part with than Perez.

Outside, Looking In:

Ryota Iggarashi - Iggy has been great at times this spring but I don't think he's destined to make it as a Mets reliever.

Dillon Gee -
Gee is going to go to AAA before he'll go into the pen. The Mets don't want Mejia to be the only reserve starter at AAA.

The Bench:

Locked and Loaded:

Ronny Paulino - My money is on Nickeas to serve as the backup until Ronny is allowed to return to the lineup. However ones elligable... Paulino will be the powerful right-handed side of the catching platoon.

Scott Hairston - Hairston will be on the bench... unless Beltran is on the DL to start the season. If THAT is the case, he'll platoon with Harris or Duda in RF and another bench spot will open up.

Willie Harris - Harris is going to be the defensive replacement for the OF. He'll come in late in games to give Beltran and Bay a break and to make some of those heart-wrenching defensive plays he used to make AGAINST the Mets.

Daniel Murphy - The Mets don't see Murphy starting at 2B. I still say he'll get plenty of starts there given his bat. However Murphy will serve as a super-sub and should get at least 1 AB a game.

Chin-Lung Hu - Hu has a job as the backup middle infielder. Why the Mets can't have Hu win the second base job is beyond my grasp. Apparently Luis Hernandez is a better hitter... because nobody is a better fielder.

In The Mix:

Lucas Duda - Like I said, Duda's shot at the bench/platoon role is dependent on Beltran's health. Mets will not risk losing Duda to waivers so they will need to plan his landing points carefully.

Nick Evans - Evans is probably going to miss out on winning a job with the Mets and I think they'll end up losing him to waivers. Perhaps if the Mets decide to send Duda down and part ways with Emaus, Evans will find a spot on the bench.

Brad Emaus - The Mets DO want to keep Emaus but he hasn't done much to win that starting 2B job. If he doesn't win the job and Beltran is healthy it's hard for me to see the Mets keeping him. There IS a chance Toronto will sell him back to us.

Luis and Justin will not be on the bench...

Second Base:

In The Mix:

Luis Hernandez - Collins made me very unhappy when someone let leak that Hernandez was winning the race and he didn't deny it. Luis Hernandez is the SECOND best fielder and probably the second worst hitter in the competition. Give me Castillo, Emaus, Murphy, Turner or Chin-Lung Hu over Hernandez.

Brad Emaus - He had a nice double on Wednesday, but he's not exactly blowing anyone away. The Mets would like him on the team but will have trouble doing that if he doesn't win the job out of spring training.

Outside, Looking In:

Justin Turner - Turner is going to wind up in AAA which isn't the end of the world, but the Mets will need to squeeze a lot of second basemen into AAA and AA. Turner, Satin, Valdespin, Havens... Plus Flores and Tovar should be moving up from A+ before long. Justin survived another round of cuts and had a BIG day at the plate yesterday. Think of his chances being similar to the Devil's chances of making the playoffs. He can not afford to lose ground from here on out.

Daniel Murphy - The Mets don't see Murphy as a starting 2B which is a shame because I think he give the Mets the best chance of winning. EVEN WITH THE INEVITABLE ERRORS. He'll be on the team and get ABs but I insist on complaining.

Lurking in the Shadows:

Reese Havens - If Havens is healthy to start the season and hits well in AA or AAA (wherever he lands) the Mets might have another Ike Davis situation. Met fans will be calling for Havens to be promoted a lot. Expect it.

Jordany Valdespin - Jordany needs to learn the HARDEST lesson a minor-leaguer can learn. He needs to learn to take a walk. If he does that quickly... he could come up and play 2B THIS year. If he does that by the end of the year, he'll be in the Reyes replacement running. Or... at least the 2012 2B race.


Luis Castillo - Andy Martino's lovely article today about how Mets fans are racist for wanting to be rid of Castillo aside. The Mets knew that their best chances of winning were not WITH Castillo in the lineup. Sandy Alderson will address the media later today and I'm sure it will sound something like, "The Mets and Luis came to the understanding that the best thing for both sides would be to drop Castillo now. We wish him well blah blah blah..." This means that the heat is on between Emaus, Turner and Hernandez with not much time left. Castillo, I'm sorry that you got demonized by the fans of New York for an error that was entirely Omar Minaya's.

P.S. Sandy... you couldn't make this announcement at the same time as you announced that Gee and others were being sent to the minors?

Phlavio's 25:

Lineup: 8
1. Jose Reyes, SS (S)
2. Angel Pagan, CF (S)
3. David Wright, 3B (R)
4. Ike Davis, 1B (L)
5. Jason Bay, LF (R)
6. Lucas Duda, RF (L)
7. Brad Emaus, 2B (R)
8. Josh Thole, C (L)

Bench: 5
1. Ronny Paulino, C (R) [Mike Nickeas, C (R)]
2. Scott Hairston, OF (R)
3. Willie Harris, OF/2B (L)
4. Daniel Murphy, Util (L)
5. Chin-Lung Hu, MI (R)

Rotation: 5
1. Mike Pelfrey, SP (R)
2. Jonathan Niese, SP (L)
3. R.A. Dickey, SP (R)
4. Chris Young, SP (R)
5. Chris Capuano, SP (L)

Bullpen: 7
CL. Francisco Rodriguez, RP (R)
SU. Bobby Parnell, RP (R)
SU. Taylor Buchholz, RP (R)
MR. Jason Isringhausen, RP (R)
MR. Pedro Beato, RP (R)
LOOGY. Tim Byrdak, RP (L)
LRP. Manny Accosta, RP (R)

Carlos Beltran on 15-Day DL