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Articles Focused on the New York Mets. Opinions on the players, the rivalries, the standings and anything else that comes to mind.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Am Working on It. The Mets Will Find A Way.

The Backstop Back At Ya:  As many of you have heard me say, The day of the Scot Kazmir trade seems like Christmas in comparison to what today feels like.  All is not lost.  I apologize for not having any solution ideas to discuss at the moment.  I am looking at all angles.  There is a way.  All I can say for now is:
A) Yes Roy Halliday is a Phillie -I will no longer refer to him as "The Doc" because that is a sacred Met title that can only be passed to another Met. So now, to me, he is just plain old Roy.
B) Yes, John Lackey is a member of the Red Sox. 
C) Yes this is just about the worst case scenerio for the Mets' pitching staff.

D) When I started this page I said I was going to do my best to always remain optomistic and loyal to my team.  This has not changed.  I will find an area to discuss and predict that will somehow make the glass half full.  I just need a few days.  In the meantime, Read A&B above a few times.  Let it set in.  Let it sting.  Then lets get moving to the next way to fix it.  Love does not always feel good.  Sometimes it hurts more than anything else in the world.  A hurt heart is a heart prepared for more joyfull things to come.  I will get back to you by the end of the weekend...  I have to get back to the drawing board.

P.S.  The offseason is only played on paper.  We won the offseason for the past 4 years.  The Phillies signed Raul Ibanez last year who went on to have a season of a monster.  Did anybody predict that?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Winter Meetings Over. Path Seems Clear to Me.

The Backstop Back At Ya: Offers Made to Jason Bay and Bengie Molina.  We can thank the Brewers  for overpaying Randy Wolfe.  That may have put us in the market for John Lackey.  We are emerging as the front runners (with the Nationals) for the services of Jason Marquis.   None of these players seem to be bargain basement players to me.

We need to be a little patient.  As Omar Minaya said yesterday, he has never gone into an off-season with needs that have gone ignored.
I will make my first predictions soon.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

How Lowe?

The Backstop Back At Ya:  Good thing the Mets are not famous for admitting they were wrong.  I heard that there was talk about Derek Lowe.  Which I would be all for if it was in the trade I proposed.  That one got us Javier Vasquez and Lowe for the ability to pay them both and Mike Pelfrey.  Otherwise why sign the same guy you passed on a year later when the money on his contract weighs as heavy as the years on his arm by the end of it.

If you Lack Starting Pitching You Need Lackey

The Backstop Back At Ya:  Thats right.  Omar Minaya has had preliminary discussions with John Lackey's agent.   Depending on which NY paper you want to believe, it seems that they have made him a priority.  My opinion on Lackey is clear.  He is a #1 or 2 starter on any team.  He is said to be looking to get something between the contract the Yankees gave A.J. Burnett (high end) and what Randy Wolf just got from the Brewers.  Make it happen if those are the parameters.  He is better than Burnett, & even if he wasn't, he is more durable.  Plus with Lackey being a free agent and the Doc Halliday market about to dry up (With Pettite signing with the Yanks and the Red Sox focusing more on offense, where is the team that would be able to trade for him and sign him long term?)  Remember yesterday's "pipe dreams". Well if the Halliday market dries up, We sign John Lackey (& hopefully a Jason Marquis and or Ben Sheets) We have guys named Maine & Pelfrey to go with a few on the verge youngsters  as bait.  Think about it.  Why would Omar even acknowledge the pipe dream if he did not have a little surprise hidden up his sleeve?  Sounds ridiculous I know.  Just remember who said it first.
Now for some not so good news.  It seems that the only way to part ways Louis Castillo is by linking him to Bernie Maddoff somehow.  This (for now) means that Orlando Hudson is not an option.  Unless they want to try him in left field. (NO... Everybody we send to left field gets his career  tarnished.  Its like the Bermuda triangle out there)
Good News:  Jose Reyes is ahead of schedule with his rehab.  More to come.
P.S. Does anybody else still have the sense that Roy Oswalt is destined to be a Met?

Happenings Behind The Plate

The Backstop Back At Ya:  One day (soon I hope) I will have a suitable smartphone that will enable me to make my updates on the go.  As a Verizon Wireless loyalist, I love the new line of droid phones that is coming out.  Problem is that every time I zero in on the phone I want, I hear rumors about a newer cooler sexier one coming out within the next few weeks.  I have been patient, but days like today make me wist I already had made that decision.
For Now:  I am about 80-85% sure that the Mets catcher next year will be Bengie Molina.  The oldest of the Molina brothers, defensively, he is not his younger brother Yadier.  But he is still very good.  Think of the cast of characters he had to deal with in San Francisco last year.  The Elder Randy Johnson, who I am told is a bit difficult to deal with when he is on the mound.  2 time Cy-Young winner T-Lincy.  Barry "Slow Curve Slower Fastball" Zito. The other 2 youngsters Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez who both throw very hard, and both throw 2 different kinds of erratic. So he can handle a pitching staff.  He is also among the better hitting catchers in the bigs.  But who will be the staff he is working with?
Heard some good news.  Will report in next post.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Early Day 2 Winter Wonder What Do We Do.

The Backstop Back At Ya: I know that I said many times that this team needed a player with some serious heart.  I also know that I am nobody to complain about some one else's spelling problems.  But this is a little hard to miss.
Okay, I admit that was a silly pun, but I had to try it.  The Mets are apparently discussing a deal with the Brewers that would send them John Maine and bring back Cory Hart. H-A-R-T.  The (maine) thing holding the deal up is that Omar Minaya would like to aquire more sure handed starting pitching for the rotation before letting Maine go.
I have been a big supporter of John Maine ever since we got him as a "throw in" from Baltimore when we took back Armando Benitez part II (Big Julio) and got rid of Mrs. Benson by trading her husband.  (When my favorite team traded one of my least favorite pitchers and I miss his wife.  Especially with the holiday season upon us.)
I was somewhat pleased however, to learn of the pitchers Omar is looking into.  The 2 names that seem to come up the most often this morning are Kevin Milwood and (a solid #1 or 2 in any league during any offseason) John Lackey.  Milwood would likely be a one year $12m salary dump for the Rangers so if there are no other serious bidders for his servics, we may be able to get him for a mid level AA prospect and a AAA reliever.  His numbers were not bad last year considering that he pitches in Texas.  He is that guy that should give you innings.  Citi Field would be his friend.
As for the free agent prize.  John Lackey is everything Ollie Perez isin't.  He is a work horse. He has fire in his gut as well as his arm.   Most importantly he would take the pressure off of the #3 4 & 5 strarters who ever they turn out to be.  I like the idea of Johan & Lackey as our 1 & 2.  I also think that the opposition would dislike this tandem.  Mets fans who don't know about him because he plays on the other coast should remember that he was the ace of a team that made it to the playoffs more often than we did during his tenure in L.A.
One last little tid-bit.  Omar did acknowledge the teams interest in the Doc.  I don't suppose this comes as much of a surprise to anybody.  He also added that such a deal would be what he called "a pipe dream" at the moment.  This is true.  But so was Johan.

Reserving how I feel about Corey Hart for the moment.  Still a Maine supporter.
Hopefully will have more to report later on or tomorrow.  Until then.  Lets enjoy all of our pipe dreams.
Who does that hurt?

The Backstop.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Early Word. Omar At Minimum Involved in A lot of Discussions



The Backstop Back At Ya: Well that was quick.  I just have a few early rumors to report.  1) Edwin Jackson, though I do not know what players are not being talked about in return.  (If his first name isn't Carlos, David, Jose, Johan, Francisco or Ike, I say it is a good idea.)
Pat Burrel may already be a Met. though the Mets are denying this via one of the NY papers that is not famous for their honesty.
Josh Willingham is being discussed. (Mixed emotions, cheap enough to be low risk, high reward)
Lets see what else?  The return of the X-man may be a possibility.  Love that idea for several reasons.
I know I reported earlier this week that a trade with the Dodgers that involved Oliver Perez and Juan Pierre.  Well now I am hearing that Castillo for Pierre is being discussed.  Either way, if it yields free agent Orlando Hudson I like it.  He is a special player who wants to be Met.
I have to wonder if much of these discussions are an effort to make the team more attractive to Roy Halliday.  We know that he would waive his no-trade clause to go to the Yankees.  This is primarily because the Yankees give him a chance to win a ring and he is supposedly very friendly with A.J. Burnett. I wonder if Omar Minaya & Co, can decorate the walls enough to convince him that there is another team in NY that is poised to re-claim greatness.  Just a thought.  Being part of a 1-2 punch with Johan Santana would presumably be another motivator.  Plus  The Doc Halliday situation has all the earmarks of Johan Santana part II.  If we can stay in the room long enough to make an offer... who knows.
I still think that we will get involved with John Lackey.  That may just take some time.  Lackey would be wise to see how the Halliday market plays out before he begins his decision making.
More to come.  I love winter baseball.

Let the Meetings Begin.

The Backstop Back At Ya: And it sure is good to be back.  The Meetings start today.
I would like to start things off with Crazy Uncle Rich's quote of the offseason.
"They are not going to do anything.  Just like always.  Omar and Jerry are not going to last until June."
Not much of a quote I grant; But I have heard the exact same quote every day since last June.
To which my response is always the same.  In the Post Phillips/Duquette era, when have they ever not gone out and gotten the best (on paper at least) available?
When I proceed to bring up Beltran, Pedro, Santana, K-Rod, Delgado,  and the rest of the list of players that seemed to make sense at the time, his response is always the same.  "I am talking about NOW."
Ladies & gentleman, I give you the Met Fan.  Its not even "What have you done for me lately?" its what have you done for me this morning?
Nothing to report from Indiana just yet.  But lets see what happens after breakfast.
I think I would like to see what the John Lackey market looks like.  If the Red Sox and Yankees are not players, and I believe they are not, at least for the moment.  With the first round pick protected, I think he makes the most sense right now.  Plus with the Dodgers neglecting to give arbitration to Orlando  Hudson, he would also not hurt the 2010 player draft.  The obvious problem there is our present second baseman.  I really do believe that Omar has an "if all other paths dry up" deal already in place. (Bradley, Burrell, etc)  We will see.  I will try to report back as soon as I hear anything.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Glad That Didn't happen

The Backstop Back At Ya: Overheard a rumor that got stepped out before it reached the presses.
It was supposed to be a 3-way deal between the Mets, The Blue Jays and the Cubs. It sent out Castillo. (That did not bother me) sent Bradley somewhere else (still with you) Sent Dan Murphy somewhere else (I would learn to live with it) and imported Lyle Overbay (and there is where they lost me) Overbay would be an overpaid, older version of Dan Murphy. Maybe a little better with the glove but age and pay make this deal a deal for deal's sake. So I am glad that they did not pull the trigger on this one. *Unless there would have been another deal in place that would have been made possible by this one. Highly unlikely. Glad we are in discussions with somebody though. More specifically, I am glad we have a dialogue with the Blue Jays. (I think you know where I am going with this one) With the understanding that this winter the Jays may have to move their ace lest they risk him going to free agency nest year, I am sure as salt goes with pepper, that we could sure use Doc. Would even enter the new year with a better outlook if we landed a Halliday before the holidays. Optimistic? Yes Out of the question? Five Words: Johan Santana is a Met.

Friday, November 6, 2009

At Least That Is Over. May the End Start The Beginning

The Backstop Back At Ya: First things first: The Backstop humbly would like to congratulate the New York Yankees and their REAL fans for winning their 27th World Series... But don't push it. I have tremendous respect for any baseball fan that is passionate about their team. Personal experience has shown me that in the case of the Yankee Fans -v- Fans of the other teams records indicate that it is only the real fans who can answer questions like: Who is the back-up catcher? or Who did they trade to get Player X? I find way too often that questions that Derek Jeter or A-Rod are not the answer to find them with little to say but "We Won... Mets Suck Yippie..." That is not who I am referring to when I say "Real Baseball Fans."
It hurt enough having to route for the Phillies anyway. I could not help but notice that Young King Cole proved to be quite the choke artist last Saturday. Hm..
Okay enough of that. Lets get started on fixing this mess. We need:
A) A starting pitcher above all else. I would prefer this to come via the trade as John Lackey would cost us the #7 overall pick in next years player draft. Unfortunately we have to look at next year while being mindful of future years. If I may overstate the obvious Doc Halliday would be the most desirable candidate. I am not sure we have enough of what the Blue Jays would need to get in return to make that happen. Other alternatives must be explored. I have heard a few rumblings that suggest King Felix Hernandez of the Mariners may be made available should the right deal present itself. Ike Davis aside, (Who the Mariners would not have a position for anyway) is one of my few "Untouchables" as far as prospects are concerned. A short list that would get even shorter if certain names such as the above 2 pitchers were made available.
B) Left Field/Catcher/First Base or Second Base. The organization seems content even committed to Murphy at 1b next season. Which is fine provided they make significant upgrades at 2 of the other 3 spots. I do not want to spoil the surprise, but I think the Mets starting Left Fielder next year will be Carlos Lee. More to come.
Lets get this mess fixed. I will be posting polls in the next few days. As well as trade possibilities worth looking into. For now I have to go to work (And not the damn parade. I would sooner remove my own fingers)
Be Well

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Almost Time To Start (Over)

The Backstop Back At Ya: Well, now that I have been reminded what it feels like to have my team's season over while they still have 2-3 months to play, (depending on when you gave up) I have to be honest. I even miss having my heart broken on the final Sunday of the regular season.
How sad is that?
Well its over. Yeah I know their is still a world series about to happen. Which, unless the Angels pull off a miracle, will feature the Yankees and the Phillies. Add snakes and you have my worst nightmare.
I would be forced to pull for the Phillies. If for no other reason, the Phillies successfully defending their title, I at least would not have to live in the city where the celebration happens. Call me a fan of the geography. Either way I am choosing which Lord of the Sith to cheer for.
It is getting cold outside however. You know what that means.
It is almost time to fire up the old Mets Hot Stove season.
Ah yes, the Met fan's time of refuge where victory does not have to happen on the baseball field. What will they do to right the wrong that was the 2009 season? The most backwards season since 2001.
I have not decided what I think their best course of action is yet. I am reluctant to want them to sign any "Type A" free agents this year because we do not have any of the same who's contracts are expiring. We have the #7 over all pick in the 2010 player draft. Signing John Lackey would cost us that pick. Right now, the bottom line says that I like the prospects that should be available in the player draft more than I like the type A free agents this year. All due respect to the likes of Mr. Lackey, Matt Holiday, and a very few other people that fall into that category. This is just one of those free agent seasons where availability will supercede value when it come to free agent talent this year. They are the "cream of the crap" if you will. I think Lackey and Big Matt would be huge pieces to this messed up puzzle. I also may change my mind about this. But for now I want to stock up on talent just in case the rumors of King Albert being unhappy in St. Louis are true, I want us to have 2 of whatever they want for a hitter like that.
So lets talk turkey. And by turkey I mean trades. I wonder if Castillo played well enough to get himself traded? That is why I have to think about this for a while. If I had written in January that Lucky Louie would be the ONLY regular to stay in the line-up, healthy, and produce, they would have come and taken me away.
The Backstop says Fire up the stove.


Monday, September 7, 2009

It was a bad year for the Backstop too; Oh The Irony of it All

The Backstop Back At Ya: I have not made an entry in a few months. Life went and happened on me. Other projects had temporarily made this page secondary. Then I looked up and saw the M.A.S.H. unit both literally and figuratively, that the season had become and... Well let me put it this way. I said from the beginning that I was a "Glass Mostly Full" type of Mets fan. More over, I have not given up on this season. You read correctly. We are not mathematically eliminated, so I still believe. You don't get the title of "The Miracle Mets" and the "Amazin' Mets" without a few amazing and/or miracle moments and seasons on your resume. I am well aware that this post may open a series of events that finds me strapped to a table for brain experiments. So let me make it clear. I am a fan of my team in good times and bad. More importantly, I am willing to go down with the ship as it sinks into the stinky drink. I do not advise this practice as it may lead to a positive outlook on life, and who really needs that?
For the Sake of Argument, Let's Assume The Season Is Over:
I would like to note a few things about the 2009 season that may give promise to future years.
-Dan Murphy; Keep a few things in mind before you consider him a disappointment.
For all intensive purposes this was his first year in the bigs. With very few exceptions, most of baseball's very good first basemen were Daniel Murphy before they went on to become MarK Texiera, Nick Johnson, Derek Lee, Joey Votto, and Paul Konerko just to name a few. *Disclaimer: Many people will read this statement and think I am prospecting Mr. Murphy to be comparable to the above mentioned players. I am not. All I am saying is that he has put a full year of playing time under his belt. With that comes seasoning. He is a year better. He has showed signs of remarkable plate discipline. He has come through big several times. Three days ago, in a Mets victory, he had all of the Rbi's. All those RBi's came in clutch situations. Ultimately, next season he will be a year better, and assuming they make upgrades in Left Field, Catcher, and the Rotation I would learn to live with him at first base next year. We might even be mild to moderately surprised by what he is capable of. Yes, Yes I know people are saying that I am entirely overlooking his defense. All I can say to that is that errors are much easier to remember than good plays. I remember both. Lets not forget that we all had ourselves convinced through an entire off season plus one day against the Cubs, that since Roger Cedeno was so bad in the corner outfield positions, that it would be a good idea to let him play Center where he can get "A Better Read On The Ball Off The Bat." And we all bought it. So lets just see what happens.
-There are few people in the baseball business who's opinion I respect more than ESPN's Peter Gammons. I heard him on the radio earlier in the season saying that he can not think of a team that has ever had to undertake the injuries that the Mets have and still been able to win. As much as we would like to blame Jerry and Omar and Jeff and Fred and Elvis, there is not a team in the game with the back-ups sufficient to overcome the injuries that we have suffered this season. Don't make me write the list. It is too painful. I do think that a Bizarro World point to ponder is the fact that in 2009 a)The Mets bullpen has been successful. (Especially compared to recent years) And the one guy that has been consistently healthy and productive this whole season is Luis Castillo. If I had predicted that in the spring I would have been banned from the Internet. It does sort of give me an idea how backwards this season has been. Just a thought. All due respect to Mr. Castillo, but maybe he played well enough to get traded. Then we could consider pursuing, who I said in an earlier blog, Orlando Hunson who is both a free agent and has always wanted to play for the Mets. I know. The Money. Well we can only hope that whatever the exact dollar amount that Bernie Maddoff made off with, Uncle Fred and cousin Jeff understand that they own a controlling share in a big market team. If they want to draw more than flies and ire next year, they will realize that a league minimum savior is not going to fall from the sky.
-My Catcher, I am so proud of this even though he has only played one game. More than 2 years ago on Kyle D's Site I predicted that Josh Thole was going to be the Mets catcher of the future. I said he would likely debut in September of 2009. Well I was right about those two things. I also said that he has a chance to be the Mets version of Joe Mauer. Well that obviously has not happened yet but just in case I am right about that too I wanted to document it again. The kid looks very special to me. I love his knowledge of the strike zone. I was impressed with what I saw with him behind the plate. Note that my knee-caps and ankles have earned me the title of Backstop. I have a fondness for those who play my position. Wishful Thinking? After one 2-4 game. Absolutely, but the Mets catcher position is the most coveted position that we have. Let me dream.
-Anybody that suggests that they should trade Jose Reyes is mentally ill and should not waste their time on baseball. They would be better suited giving last rights to healthy people. I have maintained all along that the Mets offense goes directly through Reyes. He is the most exciting player I have ever seen. I hope he comes back healthy, and as himself. I do not align myself with those who consider him a "Show-Boat." All I see is a young man who loves to play baseball. I will be damned if I am going to allow the Florida Marlins or World champion Phillies (yes it hurt to write that) dictate my player's behavior. Jose, Come back healthy and enjoy the game. There is not a person reading this that would not trade a body part to be in your positon.
-Beltran/Santana/A 2 Legged Oliver Perez/A full season of Jeff Francoeur/Putz (Pronunciation Pending) and many others are on the menu for 2010. For now I am just going to enjoy every game for what it is worth. Because I will miss it in the Winter.
-When the time becomes appropriate, we will start to theorize on how to build this team for next year... But not yet.
Get Back to You At the Next Stop.
The Backstop

P.S. Those who say that the Mets Minor League system is barren of talent should look at some of the numbers themselves and not take the word of pampas afternoon radio talk show hosts who route for the Yankees and do not even know where the Double A team plays. Start with Ike Davis. He is a favorite.

Friday, July 17, 2009

False Start - It is Turner Field After all.

The Backstop Back At Ya: Okay maybe the expectation to win the first game out of the gat was a bit, shall we say, ambitious. I sense (Or I want to sense) that there is a big streak coming. But I have made it clear that I am going down with the ship.
Trade Proposal:
Mets get: Chone Figgins & Reggie Willets.
Angels Get: Bobby Parnell and Bradley Holt.
Mets need bats/Angels need Bullpen help. They get Parnell, a hard throwing reliever and Holt, a top AA pitching prospect.
Figgins is a) perfect for Citi Field and b) Is just what we need. He plays several positions well so when/if anybody comes back from DL we are able to move him to another position.
I am guessing that we would have to sweeten the pot a little... But it is a thought.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Miracle On Roosevelt Avenue Begins... NOW

The Backstop Back At Ya: And its been too long. Second half of the season just began at Turner. (i.e. the Archetype of where the hero must go to begin his journey back to redemption) The hardest place for the Mets to win over the past 15 years.
The Backstop Believes: That before we can take our place in this year's history we have to get ALL fair-weather fans off board now. Mets just went down 1,2, 3 with a strike out and 2 very good defensive plays on the Braves side.
-Uncle Fred Please Note: I cant boo Pedro. He falls into a category of 3 (the other 2 being Piaza and Hernandez) that fall into that category. "The Guys that Came to YOUR Team when Nobody Else Wanted To." The brought a degree of legitimacy with them. To let Pedro go to the Braves for $1 million is for shame. I will not cheer the Phillies... But I can NEVER Boo Pedro.
Ollie just cleared the first inning throwing 5 pitches.
The Backstop Is Back. Braves, Phillies, Marlins & anybody else that steps up... Just Bring It
PS, The Calvary Is On The Way.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tread Water Until The Second Half. The Calvary is Coming


The Backstop Back At Ya: Thursday afternoon's game. Carpenter -v- Santana. I am waiting to catch the recap. I missed it because I was at work. I was walking through the lobby when one of my co-workers told me that the Mets had the bases loaded in the bottom of the 8th and failed to convert a single run. They still were winning but it did lead to an obvious follow up question. Does Albert Pujolz bat in the 9th? When I learned that he was due up I experienced a strange feeling. I was not worried. I immediately replied "This is a game that they would find a way to loose last year, the year before that, and yes, the year before that. I bet that they pull this one out... K-Rod baby." Sure enough I looked at the final score about an hour later. They did in fact pull it off.
I am told that the 9th was not without its drama. A win is a win is a win is a win. Last year I would be racking my brain trying to find a positive spin to put on a late inning loss. This is also not to say that they will always pull it out. No my friends, we have not been let down for the last time. I am merely expressing that buried under all the nostalgia of the new park, the Phillies being the reining world champions, (deal with it, it hurts more to type than it does to read) all the injuries and a hundred other things they like to put in the papers is something special.
This team has character. They do not play like they did in 2006 & 2007 like they just had an automatic pass into the playoffs. I know as a player it is much more difficult to deal with a game that was all but in the bag only to have the wheels come off in the opposition's last at bat. I can't imagine what that must be like when the wheels fall off a season in the last day. So I can't begin to imagine what that must be like after 3 seasons missed by mere inches.
I believe a team is only as good as its role players. The Yankees and Rangers are proof positive that you do not have the best team just by having all the best players. Now is the time for role players to shine. Alex Cora, Daniel Murphy who I refuse to give up on, Ryan Church, Omir Santos and so on. This is their time to hold the fort down until the big guys come back. That will build their character and only prove more useful down the stretch. On paper, we should be fighting with the Nationals for last place. If they can keep up until the big fish come back to the pond, we may be on the verge of the second half we have been waiting for since... Draw your own meter. And most of all remember; The Backstop told you first.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thank Heavens for small Phavors

The Backstop Back At Ya: Question: What if the Red Sox lost Ellsbury, Youkilis, and Bay leaving Pedroia to be their main offensive producer? Would they still be in first place by four games?
Do you think they would be 2 & 1/2 games out?
Well multiply that and you get the situation the Mets are in.
As we all know the Flushing 4077th suffered another loss to the Cardinals last night. And my pick for N.L. M.V.P Super Carlos Beltran is the latest edition to a D.L. that is starting to look more and more like the 25 man roster looked on May 1. At least they dealt with C-Bell's injury better than they have with other players in the past. They did not fund it necessary to fly him around the country 3 times, make him read a book about fishing for salmon, dance a bit, pinch hit him once on one leg and then wait and see how he feels. Somewhat of an exception to a bad habit that the Mets have to address with their medical staff.
The Good News: (and we all know by now that the Backstop is alwats going to try and find the silver orange and blue lining) Down 95 a bit the Phriggin Phillies have been stinking the place up even worse.
Unfortunately we can not expect this to keep up. Sooner or later, and preferably not on the very last game of the season, somebody is going to decide that they want to win the East.
Of the trade rumors I have hears, I must be honest, I am not in a hurry to make any of them. I like DeRosa from the Tribe because he plays a variety of positions. If any of the position players decided they wanted to get healthy, DeRosa can play others. Actually he can play almost all of them.
I would like to see them inquire about a few players on teams that are presently holding contention. We will have to see how that shakes out.
It should be noted that former Met bust, and present Oakland A's G.M. is a little handcuffed
this year. He has never made it a secret that he is willing, even happy to let free agents walk away at the end of the season in exchange for compensatory draft picks. i.e. Matt Holliday. The problem Old Billy No Deal has is that for his team to get those draft picks he would have to offer Holliday arbitration. With no magic 8-ball to tell him when the state of the economy will improve, it is likely that Holliday would accept arbitration for one year in hopes of landing a multi-year contract before the 2011 season. He is already making $13,5m for this year. Arbitration would likely promise at least $17.5. That would be more than 25% of the team's salary. Mr. Beane is a smart guy and I am always amazed at his ability to do a lot with a little. But I do not see him risking that kind of money when there is a good chance Holliday will take arbitration, play for his contract next year, and the A's get 0 (Zero) player draft choices for their trouble. We should start to monitor this situation closely in the next few weeks.
Just a little more than a month to the trade deadline. The contenders and pretenders are going to have to decide which one they are soon.
One thing is certain. We are not going to stay 2 & 1/2 games out for long with Wright/Castillo/Church and Murphy as the new core.
Stay Believing, You Gotta.
The Backstop

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Glass Half Full. The DL Far from Empty

The Backstop Back At Ya: An optimist to a fault. I admit it. Can we look at some facts for a moment though?
A) With all the games we have given away, Friday night against the Yankees most recent and perhaps most painful,we are still only 3 games out of first place.
B) Second place with Beltran, Wright, A Bullpen, 2 legitimate starters and a bunch of perennial players to be named later.
C) I have said for a long time that the Mets go the way Reyes goes. All due respect to Mr.Beltran (Still my prediction for N.L. Most Valuable Player) David Wright, and the rest of the offense, I have never seen an offensive player that can impact a game the way Jose Jose Jose Jose does.
He has a way. He does not only produce runs for himself, he carries in his pocket an intangible gift. Reyes can get inside the other team's head. He can drive a pitcher so crazy when he is on base. He leaves such a mental scar that the pitcher does not seem to get over it for 2-3 innings. By then Reyes is usually due up again and they do it all over. Give a shot of truth serum to whom ever has batted second third or spongetech, and I think you would get an open admission that they have been thrown more than a few hanging curve-balls, poorly spotted fastballs or just plain meat ball pitches because the opposition is forced to pay way too much attention to Reyes.
Psychology is the most relevant weapon in baseball. Those of us who knew why Roger Cedeno could not track down a fly ball to save his family know what I mean. Or dare I bring up the great Mackey Sasser and his famous triple pump throws back to the pitcher like he was trying to draw a foul. (wrong sport Mackey) Or more recently with players who just had to leave this city.
We all knew that Kaz Matzui was likely to be a productive player one day. We knew equally that it was not going to happen here. The billing that preceded him was too high, and wen he did not produce time after time after time, he had passed the point of redemption. He would have had to bat 1.000 to avoid scrutiny. It was in his head and his career's only hope was a fresh start. I notice that when Kaz plays against the Mets as a visiting player these days he does not get ridiculed the way he did when he played here. No hard feelings. There was just too much water under the bridge to drive over it anymore. His bridge was both under water and burned beyond repair.
The psychology that Reyes' brings to the table is missing. I sure hope that he can return in the second half and re-establish the nickname I gave him in 2004. "Jose the X-Factor." As it stands today, we are without our X-Factor, and I repeat we are only 3 games out of first.
D) Reyes is not alone on the back of the Mets' milk carton. Also M.I.A. with no search party yet formed: Delgado (The #4, or as I like to call it now our "Spongetech" hitter) Oliver Perez; It never occurred to me when he was walking guys that were not even on the roster yet that he may have been hurt. I have recently seen some video footage from one of last season's games where he pitched lights out against the Phillies. I compared it to one of his combustions earlier this season. I apologize for not picking up on this earlier. In the first few weeks of the 2009 season he is clearly favoring his left knee on his delivery. This affected his follow through causing him to miss on his sliders and make the radar gun look broken. In the quest for the ring I am hereby casting him as Gollum. He may yet serve a purpose. It is worth noting with regards to Mr. Perez, that he may have hidden his physical problems to protect the World Baseball Classic from responsibility for his injury.
F) Anybody remember Billy Wagner? Yeah I know this is a pipe dream and perhaps a little bit too much on the optimistic side even for me but the last I heard, he was on a throwing program. He is still under contract. With J.J. Putz being prepped for surgery as we speak, I am amused by the slim possibility that Wagner may return for the final 1/3 of the season.
G) K-Rod has lived up to his billing. A 3 year $37 million bill to be precise, he has been a Sasquatch of sorts for Mets fans. We have heard they exist but we have never seen one. Until now. Imagine: a closer who, but for a pop up gone horribly wrong, has been straight up Lock Down. Even better, every ninth inning does not have to require keeping a nitro glycerin pill in our breast pockets. Lets take that in. We have waited a long time for K-Rod.
H) There are several other players that are on the DL. Many of them are our starters. At least 4 of the regular players you see out there now are bench players. The up-side to that is that the bench is getting their at-bats and producing. This should make us that much stronger when the regulars return.
I) I am waiting just a little bit longer to discuss trade possibilities. I need to know a little bit more about when Reyes, Delgado etc are coming back (if at all). But I do not agree with EVERYBODY in sports media's claim that the Mets farm system is baron. Kyle's page "MetsProspects.com" another page I write for has several articles about players on there way up. I will just say that just because you don't have a very good triple A team does not mean that you have a bad farm system. I don't know that Daniel Murphy has ever even been to Buffalo.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Crazy Uncle Richie's Quote of the Week.

The Backstop Back At Ya: It is probably the best time to incorporate something to the blog that I have been meaning to include for some time.
God Bless My Uncle Richard. He is the person I thank for making me a Met fan in April and the person I blame for making me a Met fan in September. He is one of more interesting and colorful people one could know... But he is absolutely crazy when it comes to the Mets.
They never win they "Almost Lose." Or "They squandered too many runs in this game, watch they won't be able to score a single run tomorrow." and so on.
I was just on the verge of convincing him that Luis Castillo was not a complete bust. He had gotten some big hits. Been well enough in the field. For some reason, uncle Rich never been able to commit to memory any of the times that our second baseman, for better or worse, has come through.
Before yesterday's game I finally got him to admit that there is just something about the guy that he will never like and he does not know what it is. (My guess is the fact that he is not Orlando Hudson) I heard him say the words "Maybe I am wrong about the guy." I said this was before yesterday's game right?
Well last night at Yankee Stadium ended the way it ended. A-Rod with a clutch pop up behind second base. Don't make me write what happened. I beg you.
This takes us to the phone call I got today (I was not in a rush to answer it). I give you the first installment of Crazy Uncle Richie's Quote of the Week:
"I do not care if that guy cures something that I have. He is no damn good." click.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Vlad?

The Backstop Back At Ya:  I read on ESPN.com today that The Angels need Middle relief help.  Anybody want to tell me what Putz, Church & a spare part does not bring Vlad to the Mets?  And redemption for 2003 for that matter.  Before you shrug, keep in mind that Vlad has been hurt and is in a contract year.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Trade Winds in The Air Early

The Backstop Back At Ya:
I am told that the Phillies are in hot pursuit of Roy Oswalt. 
I have a few proposals that I need to review before I put them out for discussion.

They Lost 2 Games to the Pirates

The Backstop Back At Ya:  I must admit that after watching them find ways to win all the games between Redding starts I was a bit shocked to see them lose 2 in a row to the Pirates.  The team I like to call "25 guys just auditioning to be Yankees."  I guess what is more important is the fact that they are starting to look like the M.A.S.H. 4077th and they found ways to win quite a few more games than I thought they would starting with the series in Boston.  We are still waiting to see what the latest is on Reyes' return.  Beltran is out due to what I am told is a very violent flu.  We do not know when or if we will see the other Carlos again.  Church is on the mend etc.
I am up to 6 games this season that I can say with a 99% degree of certainty that they would have lost every year since the Omar Office took its place.
Hate it every time they waste a Johan start.  Hate it even more when they waste it against a guy like Duke.
It happens I suppose.  All I know is that I am rapidly running out of time to say it is still early.
That is BS from the BS... For now.  

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sorry I been Gone

The Backstop Back At Ya: My apologies for not putting up a post for 2 weeks.  Backstop's been busy and unfortunately I do not do this for a living yet.
For now I am just checking in.  Much to discuss.
-I went to Boston for the Sunday game against the Bo-Sox. (11:40 Saturday morning May 30 that is the last gam the Mets lost)  Beautiful park.  Cant say enough nice things about the Sox fans.  The absolute opposite of what I expected.
-I wore a Mets hat and went to face the bleacher bums at the new Yankee Stadium.  After a few exchanges that found me asking them the question.:  "Would you guys come to Citi Field and wear a Mets Hat?"  What followed was a quote that I will remember for the rest of my life.   "I have to respect that... You are crazy but I have to respect you."  High fives and man hugs followed.  For the rest of that game (against the Orioles) they embraced me as one of their own.  For that...  The Backstop reluctantly tips his helmet to the very last folks he ever expected to.  For no more than one day; Hats off to the bleacher bums.  That day is over.  Respect.
Now the Backstop wants to talk about baseball.   More soon. 

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Less than 40 Games. I See Bo Light, But I Do See a Tunnel.

The Backstop Back At Ya:
The team is starting to click.  This was so obviously missing through games 1-10.  I am watching them in their second game against the Giants out in the land of fruits and nuts. (I kid.  Got so much Cali love.  In fact I am going back)  They are winning 7-6.  The 2009 NL MVP Carlos Beltran just hit an infield single in the top of the 9th.  
Here are 2 reasons that I think they are becoming a team instead of 25 individuals.
1) I have counted 4 games that they won so far that they without a doubt, 100% certain,no margin for error, lose last year.   Actually they lose them last year, 2007, and I will even go on a limb and say 2006. Same odds.  They do not overcome 5 first inning runs against the reining NL Cy Young award winner, and fight back to win.  They do not give up a tying run in the top of the 9th and take back the lead in the 9th.  They don't score a) In late innings with a lead.  b)With two outs & b) With runners in scoring position very often...  That is until now. Bases loaded top of the ninth, 0 outs insurance run 90 feet up the lime line.  Tatis up. Stand By.  Sac Fly.  Beltran scores. Shefield tags and moves to 3rd. 
2) Overcoming injuries & errors.  I do not think I am alone when I say that every time the ball is hit to 3b these days, I hold my breath, and hope Davy Do-Wright does not do wrong.   I mean no disrespect to Uncle Fred's Golden Cash Goose.  He is just making those throws to first a bit of an adventure than I would like them to be.  *I must concede to anybody that says "Lets see you try it."  I cant.  I have played 8 positions over the course of my life with some success.  For some reason I could never handle the throws from 3b.  But I see them making errors (mental or physical)  and picking each other up.  One guy makes a mistake, another does twice as what is expected. Give me a T-E-A-M.
I have always said that this team goes the way Reyes goes.  Well Reyes is hurt.  Delgado is headed to the DL.  Alex Cora, Jeremy Reed, Fernando Tatis, the Sheff and others have them on the verge of a 3rd win in a row with a pinch hit pop up from Reyes and no Delgado at all.
It lend itself  to a lesson that the other NY team simply refuses to learn.  You do not have the best team by having all of the best players.  We need the Mazilli/Endy/Tatis factor to be a factor.  Role players are as important as who ever is batting fourth.
Giant went in order to J.J. Putz in the bottom ninth.  Ball Game.
The Backstop always believes.  Long way to go until the light at the end of the tunnel.  2 Games in first...  They are in the tunnel.  
Best..
The Backstop

Saturday, May 9, 2009

7 of the backstops million observations this week.

The Backstop Back At Ya:
A four game sweep of the Braves & Phillies.  A opening series win against the Pirates to boot.
1) The Backstop has several witnesses that heard him say last June that Carlos Beltran would be the 2009 NL MVP.  With the likes of King Albert and Votto in the way,  I stand by this prediction.  He would be the first NY Met to take this honor.  I must note that C-Bel is generally never this good in April & May.  He usually catches his stride in mid-June.  Watching him play, as good as he has been, he still does not look like he has caught his stride.  
2) More than a year after the great trade with the Twins I still find myself pausing during the course of my day and saying the beloved words "Johan Santana is a Met."  The art of pitching in its most refined form is on display in the blue & orange every fifth day.  I advise all fans to take it in as much as they can.  All hail a 1-0 lead is actually safe.
3) K-Rod & the cast in the cage.  I am up to 4 games in this early season that I can say, without a doubt, that we would have lost last season.  That is with or without Wagner.  
4)Being half a game out of first has no meaning to me at this part of the season.  Being 5 games out in this stage would yield no more concern.  We are in the unfortunate position where the regular season has been going on since the called 3rd strike to end game 6 back in 2006.  The reality is that this is the 2009 season.  We are barely at the 30 game mark.  There is too much baseball to play yet.  In all 6 divisions, the true stand out teams have yet to reveal themselves.
5) Oliver's Travels. - I think it was wise of him to accept assignment to the minors.  Especially with what I am hearing about his wounded knee. (accidental pun)  I did not notice until that mess down I-95 about an hour and 45 minutes that his velocity was down.  Way down.  He was topping out at 88 mph.  He is generally (even in his harder to watch ADHD starts) hitting the radar at 91-3.  It seemed his inability to finish off his delivery, especially the slider, would lend legitimacy to him pitching hurt.  So he goes to Buffalo.  He can rehab his knee. Fine tune his delivery.  Most importantly, he can do these things without having to answer to the fans or have the games count.  The latter being more of a concern to me.  We used to be dealing with a super talented pitcher with a fragile ego.  Now we are dealing with a super talented pitcher with the same fragile ego plus 37 million dollars.  The very last thing  I want to see is him dog it until we trade him and pay most of his salary just in time for him to get right and pitch for another contract.   We all love how much New Yorkers love to grant redemption to those that earn it.
6)  Speaking of redemption.  Was that Castillo I saw stealing a base last night? And the night before?  Was that the same guy I have been seeing ranging from behind second base to shallow right field with his glove?  Same guy I see getting on base almost 40% of the time?  I know the jury will have to deliberate on him for at least a half a season.  So far he looks like 75% of the guy I remember in Florida when he was part of one of the best 1-2 tandem I have ever seen. (Juan Pierre being his partner then) Won't you help me sing.  These songs of what could be.  Wait until the second half.  Redemption... Possible. 
7) Nice to see a young starting pitcher get called up for his first start.  Have who are usually 2 very reliable outfielders force him to pitch a 4 out inning and still gut his way to what was a very quality start.  Love the 2 different curve-balls.  Neise looked pretty nice.    
More to come. 
For now the Backstop's got your back. So keep looking forward.
The Backstop    

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I said it was too early when we were loosing...

The Backstop Back At Ya:  And I am in a jam.  When we last spoke I said that I wanted to wait for the Phillies series to be over before I said anything.  Well the next game got rained out.  Then they went into the cursed Turner Field where they never win... And won.  2 games big deal.  But they never win there.  Again, they have not even played 30 games, so it is hard to see one way or the other.  
I must say this: To loose a game the way they did on Saturday.  Have 2 days to sit around and think about it and come back and win 2 from the Braves speaks scores about the teams character.  This seems to be when the Mets (historically speaking) have played their best. As the guys that are not supposed to win.  Unfortunately/fortunately that seems to come with the uniform.  Remember in 2006 when the playoffs began.  The pitching staff needed more medical care than practice balls.  Pedro was out.  El-Duque, storied for his playoff prowess, and slated to start game one against the Dodgers got a sore calf and could not pitch at the last minute.(literally)  All we had going for us was home field advantage.  And really... In baseball?  Well I was there.  I saw a then little known John Maine out duel Derek Lowe and Brad Penny to win game one.  The very same John Maine that has Orioles management still mad at us because we were given a choice of 5 pitchers to be the "throw in" in the deal that imported Jorge Julio (Useless) and exported Mr. Anna Benson.  
*Foot note, the Orioles are the same team that traded us Mike Bordick in 2000 when Rey Ordinez went down to injury.  We sent them Melvin Mora.  Proud father of 5 and the last I checked still a productive fixture in the Orioles everyday lineup.   Bordick subsequently showed up for one at bat.  Looked inconvenienced by playing in a world series.  He then proceeded to re-sign with the Orioles to play shortstop with Mora.
I know how 2006 ended.  But we can't forget how far we went with a roster full of guys who had body parts sewn on.  I do not want to discuss 2006 any further.
The point is that the word "Amazin" does not associate itself with a team where you can expect to see the expected.  Anazin means your fingernails are gnawed down to the nub.  It means that even when they win games they are supposed to win, it will always be interesting.  Lets remember that the East is still anybodies to win or loose.  Lets enjoy the games.  And lets postpone long term evaluations for another week or 2.  You will hear what the backstop thinks of the Phillies series sooner than that.
Untill then... 1 hour & 11 minutes to gametime.
Yours,
The Backstop

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Reserving Judgement

The Backstop Back At Ya:
I just got done watching the Mets lose to the Phillies in extra innings.  I was thinking that either way this was a good game.  During the regular season the Phillies often seem to bring the best out of the Mets and vice versa.  I said that until the last pitch.  Seeing Sean Green walk home the winning run to end the game brings up one of our most painful memories.  I am not going to write it.  anybody who was a fan in 1999 knows what I am talking about.
I need to see how they respond tomorrow in the rubber game.  
As bad as today was you can learn a lot about a team in how they bounce back from a game like that.  For now, we are still waiting for something to click.  I wish I could tell you that the person or people who will make that happen are on the team presently or not.
One thing that we have to look at is the reality that 2006 was it.  There I said it.
They can no longer play like they will just get a free pass into the playoffs based on talent.  They need to start from the ground up rather than the sky down.
Frustrated right there with you,
The Backstop

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bring Back Pedro

The Backstop Back At Ya: A quick point: Pedro Martinez is unemployed and the Mets have an uncertain starting staff.  I heard that he is looking for 5 million dollars.  I think he would be worth that  to be in the clubhouse.  I am good for $30.  Anybody care to pass the hat around an show Uncle Fred that we may care about the team winning more than they do?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Boo Boo... Boom

The Backstop Back At Ya:  I have been of the opinion that there are very few reasons to be a fan of a team and then 'boo' them when they underperform.  Well, in last night's game I saw an exception.  When David Wright struck out in a key spot, the fans, for the first time in my memory, let him hear it.  I remember thinking, "why do people do that?" then, "why do people pay money to do that?"  I have always thought playing in New York alone is more pressure than any athlete should have to absorb.  Playing for fans that have had their hearts ripped out and thrown over the plate for a called strike three for three years running...well lets just say that has to be hard.  Playing for a team that, to the rest of the world, is the illegitimate step-brother of team 26 across town does not make it any easier.  I also think of the players that we had escorted out of town and I just don't think it is right. *Say what you will about Aaron Heilman, he always took the ball...hurt, healthy, strong, weak, moody, happy, sad, or universally indifferent...he always took the ball. And if he failed, he was the first person to meet the reporters after the game.  He made no excuses and from what I have heard, he had a few at his disposal.  He would simply say that he let the team down.  I have heard from multiple sources that he was hurt all season last year.  And no, none of those sources were any of the New York "Make it up as you go" tabloids.  I have not seen the latest updates, but the last I heard, Heilman was pitching well in Chicago.  I don't think he has given up an unearned run yet.

Okay now that I got that speech out of the way, I saw something last night that fascinated me.  In the inning that followed Wright's strikeout, he made a play in the field that would have made Brooks Robinson nod his head two, even three times.  In his next at bat, he parked the ball to right field, that from most of the broadcasters I have heard, would have been over the fence at Shea.  As it were, he was robbed of an extra base hit by a spectacular play by Austin Kearns.  Tip your cap.

He hit the ball hard three times since then.  It was after the Saturday game that it occurred to me...they might have kissed him off just enough to wake him from the baseball daydream he seems to have been in since the season began.  I condone the 'boos' just this one time.  He has not turned it around yet.  His numbers say nothing of his meaningful production thus far.  Lets check back in a week or so and see if that was not where he turned the corner.  The team is still double bogie when it comes to timely hitting.   Two wins in a row.  Lets get back to this one.

Yours Behind the Plate and Dirty,
The Backstop


No Sinker No Worry Cause Guts Leads To Glory

The Backstop Back At Ya: The Backstop Back At Ya:

I needed to see Pelfrey pitch again to compare his delivery to his last start.  Besides less of a soft step on his follow through, I did not see any difference.  Perhaps the team he was pitching against was the difference.  The Nats are not the best team in the game, I grant.  Fact is, they seem like they could put up a fight for the worst team at this point.  That said, I must mention that they are not baron of talent.  Zimmerman and Johnson at the corners makes for a B+/A- factoring in offense and defense.  *You heard it here, John Lannan is going to be a very effective #1 or #2 starter for years to come.  Jordan, or the pitcher - Zimmerman, though not battle tested, has the physical, and likely mental make up to be a top-of-the-line starter as well.  Come June when the player draft happens, they will likely pay for and get the best pitching prospect since...maybe ever.  They are a major league team nevertheless.

Mike obviously did not have his best stuff for today's game, but he was able to put a notch in his belt that is perhaps more important than the win.  Having caught a small unit of talented pitchers myself, it is my opinion that the difference between the good and the great, is that great pitchers can get through a game purely on guts.  My dad called that heart.  Others call it...manhood.

Pelfrey's sinker was not doing it's job early in the game.  Did not seem like much at any point in the game to be honest.   But he grew a, shall we say, plan B's.   For this, I give him all the credit in the world.  He was not afraid to face and go after guys.  He never let the batters dictate his game.  He identified and used the strike zone.  Most of all, he had faith in the seven guys behind him and one guy in front of him and they did not let him down.

The amazing play that Murphy made was a good example.  But perhaps a better example is the play he did not make in the 6th.  There was a ball hit to left center that Beltran clearly had a play on.  Problem was that Murphy was raging towards it like a hungry bulldog, so much that Beltran, who would have had an easy play, had to pull up and let it fall.  I suspect memories of getting his head stuck in Mike Cameron's face back in SanDiego may have been a lingering thought in Carlos' mind.  And who could blame him.  The fact remains that when you got guys like that behind you, willing to attack every ball hit to their area, you learn to trust them and they you.  Nice Work Mike.

The Backstop appreciates your efforts, and here is a "W" for your trouble. 


Monday, April 20, 2009

A Link To The Farm

The Backstop Back At Ya:

By the way, now that minor league assignments have been distributed and games in the farm system are going you might be interested in reading Kyle's "Mets Prospect" page. I started saying last year that the Mets have a much better farm system than people are giving proper notice to. Peter Gammons verified this for me over the spring in a radio interview with ESPN.
I believe that this year is the year that what I affectionately call the "Omar Discoveries" will make their way through the system. We don't have the Dodgers' or Rays' farm...yet.

Check it out:
If you have trouble getting to the link, just Google Mets Prospects. It will be the first page that comes up.

To be the man, you must first be a man.

Best,
The Backstop


Sunday, April 19, 2009

I Saw The New Home.

The Backstop had another 2 cents that hejust had to spend on the Mets.
I will always be able to say that I was at the first ever New York Mets victory at Citi Field.  And it was a special night indeed.  I said last week that I would love to eat my words concerning a previous post about Oliver Perez.  Well, after one very good follow up start: Mr. Perez, these words taste almost as good as the slow cooked pork tacos I had at the new super concessions court.  (For those curious about price, I had the 2 soft tacos, a large soda, and a vanilla waffle cone for a little less than $20)
I love the field.  I do not side with "obstructed view" complaint fest that everybody is ranting about.  We are talking about 2 to 3 % of the field that you may not be able to see depending on where your seats are.  And if that is a real bother simply look up for one of the billion televisions.  The T.V. 's are wisely timed to a 3 second delay so on the outside chance you are sitting in an area that misses a big play, do what I do, just look up.
The 2 biggest baseball highlights of the week were the 2 starts by the 2 southpaws.  Obviously Johan winning a game 1-0 that the bullpen managed to hold and save for him was huge.  Last year we loose that game 10 times out of 10. This comforts me a little.
Otherwise, thus far, I see what the record states.  They look like a .500 team with way above .500 talent.  The biggest issue that see right now is a lack of timely hitting.   I hate to keep saying this, but it is still way too early to base the few units of measure I have to work with, to make a fair evaluation.  I find it funny that the last person I want to see batting with 2 outs and a tie or go ahead run on base is no other than the face of the franchise.  David Wright thus far is striking out at an alarming rate.  He has also been far from what we would call "clutch". (Tick tick tick) I am putting a hopeful helping of mustard on those words before I type them. 
 Castillo, a pleasant surprise thus far. (Tock tock tock)  I truly hope that he can last the season out the way he is going.  If for no other reason; To piss my uncle Rich off.
Which takes us to a new weekly tradition here on the backstop.
My Crazy Uncle Rich's quote for the week.
"I am not getting myself worked up over them this year if they win, they win.  If they loose, they loose...  You mean to tell me that they could not get another 2 lousy runs off that bum Jeff Suppan? (Remember him)  They make him look like an all star."  
This is the same Jeff Suppan that shut us down completely in the 2006 NLCS.   Who pitched out of trouble with the bases loaded and 0 outs in the 6th inning.  The same guy who after "the catch" was able to step out any rally possibilities with a 1 - 2- 3 bottom 8 throwing less than 15 pitches.  Yeah he is a real nobody.
Final thoughts and I will get back to you during the week.
What do you think the Mets need to do.  Go get a player? Leave it alone? Get into a fist fight?
I would love to hear from you if you are out there.  Until then don't crowd the plate and be well.
Best,
The Backstop 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Too Early To Tell If We Are Watching Players or Saying Prayers.

The Backstop had another 2 cents that he just had to spend on the Mets.
Well for the first time in 7 years I did not get to attend the home opener.
Yeah, poor me.  I get to go tomorrow night because of a very good friend.  From some of the stories I am hearing about stub hub prices and around the Queens campfire I am fortunate to get to see the place so soon.  Hope everybody who went enjoyed the new atmosphere.
Just a few quick things about the ball game that broke out in the mist ofall the ceremonies.
1)I said Mike Pelfrey was a gamer and I still believe he is.  Last night he just did not have it.  Guys that build their arsenal around their sinker-ball always run the risk (especially early in the season) of having too much of a push, and not enough of a whip to their 2 seamer.  The result: A very flat very straight fastball that is very hitable.  I might also have objected to the way he and Schneider where going after Kevin Kouzmanoff.  He is a guy that would rather take a subway in Moscow at 2 o'clock in the morning than a walk.  They could have expanded the strike zone a litte bit in an effort to get him to swing at a few bad pitches.  Besides that I think that Pelf's better games this season are going to come when his arm tires just a little.  That is what helps the sinkers sink and not float.  All the same he is still a work in progress.  I still hope(see title) that he can bring big things.
*Note;  This would be as good a time as any to put in my pitch to bringback the still unemployed Pedro Martinez.  Pelfrey needs to learn a little more about how to guess and evaluate a batter's approach.  I have never seen a better pitcher than the great Pedro at the guessing game.  Pedro is an outright mindreader who Pelfrey and many other young pitchers could learn a lot from.  I beg you (Omar, Fred, Jeff, Bernizard in sheeps clothing) Do not let another team be taught these tricks.  If he can start 15 games and sit on the bench the rest of the time, he will be talking and other players benefit from that.  Ask around.
2) I will always give credit where it is due.  So I must put in a word of praise for our second baseman.  They practically modified the introductions last night to minimize Castillo from being booed.  The credit first goes to the New York fans who prove time and again and above that they will issue a clean (short leashed) slate to a player that shows effort.  Kudos Mets fans.  I must also comend Mr. Castillo for coming through in the early innings when he knew if he did not the water would start to boil.  He wants to prove himself to us. (His Words)  I for one am happy to let him try.
3) I have been vocal of late about why Mr. Wright has gotten a pass for not coming up in the clutch whileMr. Reyes is subject to league wide and media wide ridicule for his choreographed antics.  Despite anything that Jimmy Rollins or anybody else has to say, Jose Reyes puts his money where his dancing hand-shakes are year in and year out.  I had just got done saying this when David Wright hit a Clutch with a capital D (for Ding Dong That ball Is So Gone) home run to tie the game up last night.  That was huge.  My hope is that our 3rd baseman who has the ceiling limit that is nothing shy of the Cardinals firstbaseman, (You heard me), a) returns to basics b)hit the ball where it is pitched c) forget about your poster image & d) Throw the ball at Delgado's Jersey logo,not his feet.
4) When it is all said and done we lost.  I would love to make predictions or see if I can discuss what I think we need.  It is just too early.  The last 2 games were lost by an outfield error and a balk collectively.  Way too much ball to play.  So if you are already starting to pray, stop.  Its baseball not real life.   I am as passionate about baseball as anybody you will ever know. But pray for something important.   Baseball is a wonderful microcosm of life, it is not real life.
Thanking you for joining me this season with all the humility at my disposal,
The Backstop

Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Timely Hitting Running Late, But it is Still Early"

New year...fresh start...hope springs eternal.   It could not possibly happen a third time!  All things I find myself saying when I notice a few blotches in the Mets offense.  But it is still way too early to evaluate that.  The team has yet to play a home game.  That said, they have left way to many runners on base.  Here's to hoping it does not become a habit. Ultimately it is timely hitting that wins games.

A few bright spots that are apparent early:
  1. Ryan Church appears to be picking up where he left off before his second concussion of last year, and the brilliant front office thought it wise to let him fly to Colorado (the highest point with the thinnest air in the continental United States...for future reference Concussion + Long Plane Trip + being in Colorado = a much worse concussion)
  2. Daniel Murphy.  When I first saw him, I thought he would be a flash in the pan.  He came right up from double A, his swing takes about a half an hour, and as a prospect analyst...I never payed close attention to him.  Well let me say that I missed out on something special...his long swing is deceptive because of the way he brings his hands through the hitting zone.  At the moment, he has one of the best eyes among any younger players in the game.  His plate discipline is remarkable and he is mature well beyond his years.  I'm on board with the idea that he is the real thing and will only get better.
  3. November of last year, I began projecting that Carlos Beltran will win NL MVP, becoming the first New York Met in club history to earn this honor...I stand by it. 
  4. I will give Castillo the benefit of the doubt for the time being.  He looks healthier and I just want to believe that.
  5. Wright has a slow bat.  Does anybody think he will stay that way?
  6. Reyes is already being Reyes and I still do not think we have seen the best of him or Davy DoWright.
  7. Delgado is already off to a better start than he was last year.
Four games in and lots of fun to come.  As I write this, the Mets are winning 5 - 0 over the Marlins behind the bats of Reyes, Murphy, Church, & Castillo.  Number 5 starter on the hill... and he shall be Levon and he shall be a good man.

The Backstop Loves Feedback.
Lots of topics to touch on.
Am I the only person that STILL thinks that Pedro deserves to be on this team?

Maine is Money Man

It is pleasant to see John Maine back in the rotation.  Last year, even when he was pitching, I could see something glaringly wrong with him.   He seemed to grimace after every pitch.  He had a dumbfounded "this used to work all the time" look on his face until he was ultimately put on the battered list for the rest of the season.  Even when he was almost able to return, you could just see that something had him pinned and he would need the entire off-season and maybe then some to get back to right.

Two solo home runs was not the fondest welcome back to the bigs he could have received, I grant.  But I did re-learn something I always said about Maine.  He can get the job done under any circumstances.  Another guy who settled down.  Trusted, his offense would make it up and he held the Marlins in check for 5 innings.  He threw a few too many pitches.  For a guy that always seems to get ahead to an 0 & 2  or 1 & 2 count, he still seems to have that tendency to allow batters back into at bats.  We never did get a close look at that curveball he was developing in the spring.  But after one start where he took a no-decision and gave the team a chance to win, I would say that it was a good start to his return.

Backstop Going to Say Something Profound Enough to Sound Silly Alert:  Lets review the past 4 seasons.  We have only had Santana for one.  Pedro (more on him in another post) was more of a team relevance declaration than it was a baseball move.  I would contend, or at least open the discussion, by saying that John Maine has been the Mets best big game pitcher since Al Leiter.  I know I can't just say something like that and not explain myself.
In 2006, after a regular season that was better than expected, Maine was given the ball in the Mets first playoff game since 2000.  Pedro was out, the supposedly unbeatable in the playoffs  - El-Duque was a last minute scratch because of a soar something or other, Perez was unproven and on short rest, etc, etc.

All John Maine did that day was take the ball, face and beat the much more experienced Derek Lowe, and give the team its first playoff win in 6 years.  Until last year's injury, he really has not looked back since then.  O6's Game 7's painful end overshadowed the gem Maine threw in Game 6.  With the rotation, baseball's equivalent of a M.A.S.H. unit, without John Maine I do not think we make the second round.

2007 & 2008 happened...I am sorry to bring that up...we must move on.  I am only bringing it up because another game lost in the archives behind last game collapses is the game he threw on the second to last game of the season.  He took a no-hitter into the 8th and struck out the entire ballpark.  The fact is that we would not have a chance to collapse on the final day if Maine did not put up with all of the money on the table on that Saturday.

Last year he was injured and tried to pitch through it and eventually could not go on.  Well now he's back.  I am brimming with optimism at the possibility that the John Maine we had a few years ago is back.  We shall see.
    
Interesting Point:  Both John Maine and Oliver Perez were traded to the Mets as throw-ins in deals that involved other players that proved to be duds.  Maine was a throw-in in the deal that brought us the long forgotten Jorge Julio for the bullpen (and export Mr. & Mrs. Benson).
Rumor has it that the Orioles gave Omar a choice of five different pitchers as the additions to that deal.  He chose Maine.  Apparently the Orioles still do not want to make any deals with the Mets because we chose the successful John Maine.  This from the same people who took Melvin Mora, who is still one of the biggest parts of their franchise in exchange for Mike Bordick (who showed up for exactly one at bat and was MIA to and through the World Series).  Sorry...we chose John Maine.  The Perez deal was mainly built around Xavier Nady and Roberto Hernandez.  The essential need in that deal was the return of Roberto Hernandez after the now infamous Duaner Sanchez cab ride downin Miami.

Next:  The backstop wants to talk about the offense.

Put it in the books & on the Shelf.

I will not torture my readers with another long evaluation of one player.  At least not right now.  But with the first four games done and a five hundred record to show for it I wanted to put up a few things I noticed about 2 of our number 2 pitchers.  (Love this problem.  Its like we finally have an ace and the rest are defined as competing for the #2 title.  Which is only a good title in baseball)
The Big Pelf gave up 4 well earned runs in the first inning.  I do not think I was alone in saying.  "I knew it.   He threw too many innings last year.  We ruined another one."   Well he settled down.  Pitched out of further trouble (give the assist to the defense.  Pelfrey will usually owe most of his game to his infield.  thats called "team." Google it)  And did not pitch himself back into any damaging trouble.  
My opinion of Pelfrey continues to rise.  The one thing you can't teach is heart.  A biological and grammatical impossibility but the truth nonetheless.  Mike Pelfrey has the heart for and of the Marines.  I can think of pitchers, too many to name, who would give up four runs in the first inning and simply mail the rest in.   Votto had his number on that jack that just landed in downtown Cleveland about 5 minutes ago.   Mike kept his head on focus and eventually his offense caught up with him.  No small task considering that they were facing the Phenom Volquez who could barely be touched the first 2/3 of last season.  Now when I say focus, I am talking about focusing on the game.  Not the mistakes he made earlier, or what the 4 runs would do to his ERA.  Pelfrey hung in there and got the team the win.    Since the term "You Da Man Mike" is , to Mets fans, permanently reserved for a certain future Hall Of Fame Catcher, I would like to say:  "Way to Put em on the Shelf Pelf."  
Next Post- John Maine

Oliver with a Twist and Mr Hide.

Oh Ollie...
I am not mad at you as some people are.  I have to share some insight that I think gets overlooked.  
Oliver Perez's "stuff" has never been questioned beyond the points between nasty and impossible.  We have all seen him when he is on.  I would compare it to a classical violinist.  Every motion, every beat, every deliberate movement and change compile together to make up what is a pure work of art.
But there is a twist.  There always is.  Sometimes when you are hoping to see the classical violinist play, a drunken clown barely capable of a children's party shows up.  An elaborate comparison I grant, but the difference between the two, as obvious.  My sense is that a fragile ego is often what makes the violinist run and hide leaving the mean pseudo tough clown to pitch. (and do something else that rhymes with pitch) 
I would love to catch each of the 2 Oliver Perezes for one inning.  The first: Simply to see how amazing it must look from behind the plate with that water rapid slider.  The fastball that hits both corners, depending on which side I want.  Simply putting the variation of signals that spell the heater holding my catcher's mitt up and know that I can close my eyes and wait for the sound of the pop that will close the glove for me.  
With the other guy I would not close my eyes to blink.  Let alone any assumptions of the ball being anywhere near where I put my hand.   I would do a few things that may teach him that having a 36million dollar for 3 years arm is not enough.  (Brian Schneider, Ramon Castro, if this message somehow gets to you I hope it finds you well.)  First we have to play the game.  I am not nearly arrogant enough to think I can teach Ollie or anybody how to do that.  He is a big league pitcher and I am... Well not.
I would like to tell him a few things about the game within the game.  They apparently do not put a whole lot of prerequisites on this in the Scot Boras camp. 
 I live in New York that means that I have the opportunities to listen to the 2 big (and several not as big) sports radio stations.  I have a choice of 30 newspapers to read about the Mets, and baseball, and on and on.  Yet I hear and read very little about the game within the game.  
Mr. Hyde and Go Perez does several things during the course of one of his A.D.H.D. outings that can be corrected.  I am not in the clubhouse so for the sake of discussion lets assume nobody has told him about these shortcomings.   (Please note that this is a mere constructive criticism.  I have no quarrels with Oliver Perez the person.  That is in fact what makes Major League  baseball such a wonderful thing to be a part of in any capacity.  None of them are real people.  They are the manifestations of our percieved reality.  Anger, frustration pride or joy towards a particular player for example.  A rivalry between the fans of 2 different teams is an even better example of real life seeking healthy refuge in sport.  To us they are only the people we see playing out the script we have set using a ball field as a stage.  Like all stories there has to be a goat.  This week it is Ollie because I am well aware  of how good my own words could taste a week from now when and if he makes me eat them.)
1) Like it or not, the umpires have multiple duties during the game.  Some of them in the rule book, others implied.  The strike zone is what the umpire says it is.  Life is not fair, you will pay taxes and the strike zone can change at any given moment during or between games.  I remember a story I heard a few years ago about when Jose Lima was batting against John Smoltz during a Mets Braves game down at Turner.   Upon taking a called third strike, Mr. Lima noted to the ump that when he was pitching that was not a strike. The ump responded what I don't think any pitcher would be happy to hear.  "That's because You are not John Smoltz."  Unfair? Absolutely.  John Smoltz Strike Zone Restrictions written in official M.L.B. Rule book? Absolutely nowhere.  Jose Lima had no further response (I guess until he told the story, assuming authenticity)  He took the ball and pitched.   Mr. Perez,  Give that attitude a shot will ya?  If I can see your hurt feelings from the center field camera, when your back is to me, every time you do not get a call you think you deserved how apparent must those same  hurt feelings be to the ump?   We do not need to take a long slow huff (one step) puff (the second) walk around the mound.  No need to shake your head and give dirty looks.  Trust me when I say that it is counter productive.  In the 5 walks you issued on Thursday  I can guarantee you that every time you snickered or pfff'd the strike zone got smaller or moved or even for a time disappeared completely.   I have noticed in your better starts, in recent years, that your in game practice was different.  You would snap off one brilliant pitch and could barely wait to get the ball back.  Do the same thing when you do or don't get a call.  The umpires have a speaking part in your game.  Like it, or don't like it.  Just deal with it and for Heaven's sake quit showing the umps up. One of the other unwritten jobs of the umps is to keep the game moving.  If you show them up or slow them down they will make your night difficult.
2) You are not John Smoltz.  That is to say that you have not earned the benefit of the doubt YET.  Physically you have even more than he does.   To get the benefit of the doubton those "border line strikes" you have to earn it.  If you stopped being a little kid and accepted the umpire's opinion as the only one that counts you can be among the greats.  
3) Speaking of the greats;  There is a tall tan handsome guy in your locker room.  His name is Johan.  He has said in multiple interviews to multiple sources that he would be more than happy to take you under his wing.  Get your left handed tail under that wing.  This is a resource that 725 other big leaguers and millions of prospects at every level  pray for.  You have it.  Use it.
4)  You are not your stats.  Why is it that every time your team falls behind, they try to scratch out runs to try to give the game back to you only, for you to give it back to them?  You gave up four runs in the 3rd (on Thursday) and four runs in the 5th.  At least in the part of the fifth that you were nice enough to stick around for.  The final score of that game was 8-6.  If the other eight guys that bat and play the field don't give up on you, don't give up on them.  The attitude seems to be "Well I am not going to get a W out of this one maybe I should... Oh look there is a guy wearing a neck tie.  Now why would anybody wear a neck tie to a ball game?..."Wake up, you just gave up 4 more runs and pissed off the umpire... Again.  I refuse to quote a person who is more famous as a Yankee than a Met.  So;  The game of baseball you are Presently playing hasn't officially ended until it in the past.  Get Me?
5)  I make no secrets.  I am a fan of your team.  You also deserve to know that I am a big fan of yours'.  I beg you.  Make me regret publishing this.  The follow up I would write would be the words of a man who is proud he was wrong.   You can still be great.  Be Great.
Via Con Dios,

The Backstop

What a Week What a .500 Weak?

Backstop back at you, 
Okay we have been through 5 games.  I am going to start a new ritual during the season.  As baseball is a game sheet rocked with superstitions, my ritual has a more practical purpose.
I am simply not going to clip my nails during the regular season and if the Mets are in the playoffs (My fingers to God's Answering Machine) I am going to take a daily double dose of those vitamins that make your nails grow faster.  
The superstitious Reason:  Does anybody anywhere know were these things come from?  I know that I was in a slump once.  I stopped for pizza on the way to the game.  The pizza tasted like the hotdogs at Shea before Nathan's came and made them at least eatable.   During the game I was unsure of when I was bating until I noticed that nobody was on deck.  It was me who was supposed to bat next, line up cards exchanged,  I ran towards the circle and grabbed the first helmet I saw.  I noticed the helmet being very tight as I am what one would call cranially blessed (I have a big head) but the one I usually wear was guarding the head of the guy trying not to get picked off second base.  The guy that was batting, normally a patient hitter swung at the second pitch, giving me 2 maybe 3 warm-up swings.  I stepped in.  First pitch was in the dirt. No need to even bring my hands back on that one I thought.  The second pitch was  a heater that to this day I still see in slow motion.  Letter high outside corner with a sinking 2-seam movement.  Shift, turn, head on, hands back and Bam.  Opposite field triple over the right fielder's head.
For the rest of the season I kept that lousy pizza place in business.  I would stop there before games no matter how far out of the way it was.  I also likely permanently altered the shape of my head by wearing only the tightest helmets I could force to fit  on my head.
Superstitious?  Logic Man (He is the guy that looks back and makes sense out of everything in the rearview mirror) says that the carbs in the pizza gave me energy and the tight helmets held my loose living brain together enough to keep me focused.  Logic man has no idea what he is talking about.  The pizza: Magic Pizza  The helmet:  My Magical Protective armor.  My slump ended that day.  Thank you for indulging me in allowing me to tell one of my "Glory Days" stories.
The Practical Reason For Not Clipping Nails:  I clipped them yesterday morning.   By the 6th inning of last nights (4/10/09 loss to the Marlins) I had to resort to biting right into my finger for lack of any fingernail to bite.
Here are a few goods, a few bads, a few did you notice?'s and a few things to keep your eye on for week 2 and beyond in hopes that things don't get ugly. 
  

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Opening Day Follow up. 1 & o

Okay just a few quick things
1)Mets won.
2)How many times have we heard that Green may well be the swing factor in the bullpen.
3) Did you notice that the offense came from 2 "Question Marks"
4) Johan can show you how  a true "Ace" is defined. He did not have anything close to his best stuff but he found a way to hold what I think is going to be a very good Reds line up to a run. (Give the assist to Ryan Church  both literally and figuratively.)
5) If we had to write a script, with the whole offseason being about how the once finessed into uselessness back of the bullpen, was now anchored by (on paper) the best 8th & 9th inning combo in the game. Could we have written a better ending than a one run lead going into the 8th being nailed down like a motel lamp?  Shut off like one too.
6) I know it is just one game.  You don't have to tell me. The Problem is I can't comment on the second game because a) I want this to be about the opener and b) the second game has not happened yet. (mainly b) 
7) I have just learned that through the good graces of a great friend, I am going to be able to attend the second game at Citi Field. Looking forward to telling you all about that.  If you have a friend named John, I can assure you that he is not likely half the friend as my friend John.  Love you brother.
Best is yet to happen and is already happening.
Yours,
The Queens Backstop

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