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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.

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.  

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