Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Case for 3rd Place

The conventional wisdom surrounding most Mets fans would have the team as a whole fortunate to finish in 3rd place in what has become a rather tight division. But that's not where I'm going with this one.

Around this time last season, the idea was bandied about to bat Jose Reyes 3rd, with Beltran 2nd, Wright 5th and so on and so forth. I don't remember who was supposed to hit leadoff, but that's really academic because it didn't happen. In fact, it was mostly poo-pooed as a stupid idea, which it may well have been.

What's strange is that for many of the reasons it wasn't a good idea last year, it probably is a very good idea for the Mets this season, particularly with Beltran out of the lineup for the foreseeable future.

The knock on this idea was twofold:
1) By removing Reyes from the leadoff spot, you create a gaping hole at the top of the order that the Mets aren't adequately prepared to fill.
Answer: True. But the Mets are probably more adequately prepared to fill that hole this season, with Beltran out and Angel Pagan more than likely going to get the bulk of the playing time in CF in the early going. There are knocks on Pagan, namely his poor fundamental skills, but, then again, Reyes plays like an idiot a good chunk of the time as well, he just makes his idiot moves look a little more exciting, like trying to stretch a double into a triple and getting thrown out. Luis Castillo is another option, albeit far duller than Pagan, but if nothing else, Castillo has markedly more patience at the plate than either Pagan or Reyes.

2) By putting Reyes in the #3 spot in the order, a BA/SLG spot, Reyes will more than likely get into his habit of swinging for the fences rather than hitting ground balls and line drives, which is where his game is better geared towards.
Answer: I just said Reyes is an idiot. He swings for the fences in the leadoff spot anyway. He already thinks he's a power hitter, so let's let him hit in a power spot in the order and see what, exactly, he can do. Plus, in the #3 spot, Reyes is more than likely going to see more fastballs with Bay/Wright behind him, and he won't have to have that stigma of taking pitches and trying to work walks and steal bases. Let him swing for the fences. Maybe he'll hit the doubles and triples he should be hitting in the process.

I'm not advocating a permanent switch to the #3 spot for Reyes. His future with the Mets really is as a leadoff hitter, after all. There is the concern that he's going to further screw up his swing hitting 3rd. Again, though, he seems to screw up his swing well enough hitting leadoff. Arguably, he won't have the opportunity to steal as many bases or score as many runs hitting 3rd. Normally, this is true. But, again, without Beltran, the Mets could probably benefit from having a speed guy hitting 3rd, who could single, drive in a run or move a guy over, and then steal a base behind him. Beltran always had the speed to do this, but he never stole bases. Reyes knows how to steal a base.

Maybe I'm just grasping at straws for a solution here. But given that the Mets real #3 hitter isn't going to be available for a while, this isn't such a crazy idea. Shake things up a little bit. It really can't hurt, can it?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

That Which Wasn't Done

Life is divided up into the horrible and the miserable. The horrible would be terminal cases, blind people, cripples. The miserable is everyone else. When you go through life you should be thankful that you're miserable.

-Alvy Singer

I don't know that there was any one particular reason that I've only made 19 blog posts from the end of the Regular Season to now, the beginning of Spring Training 2010. You could accuse me of having sat on my hands while the Mets went to pieces, but in reality, what was there to say? Was I going to play some sort of bizarre company line? Should I echo the sentiments that every other Mets blogger was screaming? No, and no. The reality of the situation is that there just wasn't that much to say about the Mets, and their lack of activity during the offseason. The end result is that we're going into Spring Training 2010 with about as much optimism as Alvy himself shopping in a bookstore.

2007 and 2008 were the Miserable. 2009 was the Horrible. What the hell is 2010 going to be? I don't know, and I'm kind of scared to find out. But it's coming, and there's not much I can do to stop it. I've got 15 games worth of Mets tickets heading to my house imminently so I'll be at Citi Field, April 5th as per usual. I'll even be back in the Good Ol' 518, albeit a few rows lower than last season. But what the hell am I going to see?

Well, for one, I won't be seeing any of the following players: Joel Pineiro, Jason Marquis, Erik Bedard, John Lackey, Jason Schmidt, Randy Wolf or Todd Wellemeyer. I won't be seeing Matt Holliday, Orlando Hudson, Marco Scutaro or Russell Branyan either.

And you know what? I'm fine with that.

The problem the Mets have right now is that there's a little too much of the same going around, and they need an injection of a couple of impact guys to really cure those ills. But scan that crop of available Free Agents. Now, in your mind, remove the following names from that list: Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, John Lackey.

Is there anyone on that list that really lights you on fire, really gets you going? Anyone on that list that's going to come into this Mets locker room and change the attitude and atmosphere of the club? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Fact is, there were only 3 impact guys out there to be had, and the Mets got one of them. Everyone else would have simply been tacking on more question marks to a roster that already has enough of them. I would have started my 5 Key Mets for the upcoming season, but how can you pick just 5? Jason Marquis was not going to come to the Mets and immediately change the fortunes of the team. Neither was Joel Pineiro. Neither of them excited me a bit and deep down, I'm sort of glad the Mets didn't go out and sign them. So, then, what? The Mets could have a starting rotation of Santana, and yet another iffy guy to go with the iffy guys that already exist here?

The only reason the Mets would have made a move for any of those guys would have been to simply shake things up. Perhaps a shakeup is needed, I don't know. This particular group has proven itself only good enough to get tantalizingly close to the dream without actually getting there. Delgado's gone, Beltran's out until May at least (and given his feelings toward the organization, who knows if he's rushing to come back) and the Mets are functionally leaderless. Who steps up? Can Wright get out of his own head enough to do it? Is Jeff Francoeur's down-home, golly gee country boy style going to rub off on everyone? I don't know. I got no answers for the Mets. There are too many what-ifs that need to happen for the Mets to be successful in 2010.

All I know is that, going into Spring Training, we can't damn them for moves they didn't make. They really wouldn't have helped that much. If 2010 is Miserable, they wouldn't make it less miserable. If 2010 is Horrible, well, we're already screwed.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Big Game Bonanza!

All Right, so it's here at last, THE BIG GAME with the Colts and the Saints and the John Madden Meatballs and the Frank Gifford Hoopla and the Joe Buck Hair Gel. I'd like to say that I have some great, deep thoughts about how this game is going to go, but after watching how the Conference Championships went two weeks ago, I don't think there's much to figure out.

This is the Colts game to lose. Period. The Jets came out with a great game plan in the Championship game, had a lead, and the Colts (read: PEYTON MANNING) just made a few adjustments and ended up swatting them away like flies. On the other hand, the Saints came out and moved the ball, or at least appeared to move the ball against Minnesota, but they couldn't stop the Vikings. They only won that game because the Vikings basically turned into the team I knew they were all season long: A talented, but fundamentally weak team that would implode in a pressure situation. Adrian Peterson couldn't hold on to the ball, Brett Favre made his typical Brett Favre mistake, the Saints got a couple of breaks and won the game in an overtime thriller.

If the Saints come out and put forth a similar defensive effort against the Colts, they're going to lose by 30 points. The Vikings were a mistake prone team and the Colts just don't make mistakes. The only way the Saints can win is if they move the ball, but slowly, rather than the fast break, shoot down the field method that's worked for them all season. Yes, as we've learned in the past, ANYTHANG'SPOSSABULLLL! A lot of people have been going with the underdog and picking the Saints. They've become a very chic pick these past couple of weeks, and it's somewhat similar to the number of people that picked the Jets in the AFC Championship (something I did myself). But this season, the NFL has yet to figure out how, exactly, to stop the Colts at full strength. Unless someone comes up and pops Peyton Manning in the jaw and knocks him out of the game, the Saints are going to have to play a perfect game x2 to beat Indianapolis today. Sorry, New Orleans, sorry, lovers of the underdog. These games have a habit of being slow to develop and lacking in pace, before there's some sort of late flurry. I think the Saints can keep it a game, but the Colts have ridiculous killer instinct and they put it away late.
My pick: Colts 41, Saints 30