Thursday, December 24, 2015

We'll Always Have Paris...

I can't say I'm especially surprised by today's news that Daniel Murphy signed with the Washington Nationals. I'm not particularly upset by it either. I know you don't want one of your own guys to jump to a division rival like this, but let's be real here before we get too worked up. The moves the Mets have made to this point have made it abundantly clear that Daniel Murphy wasn't part of the future plans here. And that's fine.

We've had 8 seasons with Daniel Murphy. I know there's a lot of sentimentality that comes attached to that, but it wasn't going to get any better with age. Mostly, Daniel Murphy played the kind of Baseball that left a lot of us scratching our heads. Yes, there were times when he was really good, and for those two weeks in October he took his version of "really good" to a whole new level. But that wasn't Daniel Murphy. That was Playoff Chosen Daniel Murphy. Nothing exemplifies Playoff Chosen Daniel Murphy more than that Stolen Base in Los Angeles. If Daniel Murphy tries to pull something like that in the regular season, he probably gets thrown out 100 times out of 100. Playoff Chosen Daniel Murphy was safe. But Playoff Chosen Daniel Murphy was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. Regular Daniel Murphy came back to us in the World Series, sometime around the 8th inning of Game 4.

Unfair as it may seem, that's probably going to be the Daniel Murphy that most of us will remember. The guy who was consistently frighting on defense. The guy who would all too often try to be a hero and end up making a semipro-caliber play. The guy who would go on those raging hot streaks and then spend the next two months grounding out to the 2nd baseman. The guy who exemplified the lost era of the Mets when he led the team in Home Runs...with 12. A few years ago, I was watching a program on MLB Network where Daniel Murphy was ranked 10th among MLB 2nd Basemen and I nearly passed out. Murphy was the sort of player that I would watch and after a few years of his schtick I said to myself, "You know, Daniel Murphy is the kind of ballplayer who only has a job because of the Mets. Only the Mets would have a guy like Murphy on the roster."

I guess there's some people who are upset about this, but I can't. I know he went to a division rival, but my feeling is that now, he's going to get himself so cranked up and out of control when he plays the Mets that he's going to do things like try to score from 1st Base on an infield ground out or try to throw a runner out at 3rd base while overshifted into Right Field. These absurd mistakes that he makes are now the problem of Dusty Baker and the Washington Nationals. While he's totally going to hit .340 in April, I feel like more often than not we'll see the Good Ol' Murphy on highlights and silently chuckle.

The other reason people seem to be annoyed really has less to do with Murphy and more that the Mets aren't making those "Bold" or "Flashy" moves. I know general logic would dictate that the Mets should bring back Cespedes and, sure, that makes sense but again, a lot of it comes from that sentimental feeling that most Mets fans seem to have. I mean, sure. I'd love to have that big-time bat back and sure, it annoys me to see the Cubs and Giants gobbling up every big-ticket Free Agent in sight (and if you thought the Cubs had anointed themselves last season...oy veh...), but outside of Cespedes, or possibly Heyward, who sitting out there were the Mets legitimately going to bring in? The idea isn't to make moves for the purpose of being reactionary, the idea is to make moves to improve the team and under Sandy Alderson, the Mets have continually done that. No, I don't especially like the idea that the Opening Day 2016 roster is going to mostly resemble the Opening Day 2015 roster barring a Cespedes Smokescreen. But top to bottom the Mets are a better team right now than they were on Opening Day last season even without Cespedes. Instead of having absolute junk filling out the roster, there's good, serviceable depth here, which is nice to have. Also, I feel like people are forgetting this Conforto fellow. He might be pretty good.

All besides the point. I sort of want to tip my cap and wish Murphy well and maybe that was supposed to be the general intent of this post. I know I really raked Murphy over the coals quite a bit over the years and, well, most of the time he deserved it, but for all his foibles he was a fine Met and it's always a little wistful when a guy who's been with the team a long time leaves. But, that's the nature of the game. Players always leave town and the cynics always win the day. Murph...It's been real.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

To The Rescue!

It's already been a long offseason. In reality, I know it's been less than 2 months since the Mets season ended, and yes, amazingly, they were still playing Baseball on November 1st, but the past 7-8 weeks or so since the season ended has felt like 4 months. Not kidding. The World Series feels like a lifetime ago, and maybe this offseason in particular will feel much longer than most. There is, in spite of what you might read or hear and in spite of the grousing of certain fans, a lot to look forward to for the Mets in 2016.

Generally, as the offseason rolls on, I tend to flip certain things in my head over and over again that pertain to the Mets. I've talked about this before and I'm not sure if it's indicative of some underlying insanity or not, but it's just odd things that came up during the past season. But for whatever reason, the thing that's been popping up the most has been the above clip, featuring our old friend Pedro Martinez expressing his adoration for our relatively new friend, Noah Syndergaard.

I've been thinking about Syndergaard and his place in a stacked rotation, up against Harvey, deGrom, Matz, the returning Wheeler and the ageless Colon. I don't think it particularly crazy to say that Syndergaard has a good chance to be the best of the lot. We knew he was good but he sort of snuck up on us with how much he'd matured over the course of the season. But in the pressure cooker of the playoffs, when, really, everyone among the Big 4 had their moment, Syndergaard seemed to stand taller than most. Perhaps it was because he threw himself into the winner-take-all Game 5 in LA after warming up 3 times. Possibly, it was his World Series performance.

Mostly, though, it was prior to Game 2 of the NLCS, when TBS signed on for their pregame show and Pedro Martinez immediately grabbed a Norse hammer and screamed "THOOOOOOORRRRRR!"

When you're continually drawing the admiration of one of the greatest Badasses in MLB History, you're probably pretty badass yourself. Of all the things I'm looking forward to in 2016, it's to see what this guy can do with a full season and some experience.

But, just so you don't think I'm hung up on one guy here, one other thing that's been flipping around in my head a lot lately is this scene:

I know it didn't end well for Matt Harvey or any of us on that last night, but man. That sound.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Highlight Film

It's been a while since I've talked about the ubiquitous history of Mets Highlight Videos. The sort of thing that was virtually a rite of passage in my youth has kind of faded into obscurity, primarily because is there anyone who really wants to see a 2009 Mets Highlight Video? I'd rather pretend that year never existed.

But I digress. The last time the Mets had a Real Highlight Video, to the best of my knowledge, was in 2006, not surprisingly the last time the Mets made the Playoffs. When the Mets produced their own video, it was boilerplate cheesy in-house stuff. For a while, say 1984 through 1988, the Mets Highlight Video reached near-legendary status, incorporating pop music to underscore dramatic montages. If you're like me (and few people are) and you were between the ages of 7-12 in 1986, you basically have the 1986 Highlight Video committed to memory (How'd we do it? Mirrors!).

Then it sort of faded out. 1999 and 2000 have videos, and then 2006. At some point, I actually saw SNY running "Mets Yearbook" episodes from 2010 and 2011, although I'm sure they cobbled it together themselves just so they didn't have to keep showing the 1976 video over and over again. And even then, the SNY selection chops up and edits many of the videos for cost-cutting copyright purposes, so it's not the same.

And now, here we have the 2015 Mets. The team that rose from the ashes and went on a wild ride all the way to the World Series. I mean, I wasn't alive in 1969, but this was the sort of stuff you'd dream about happening, the year the Mets finally got good again and what it would be like. This was one of those special years. The Greg Prince book is coming. I want a Highlight Video, too. I know it takes a few months for MLB Advanced Media or whoever is now tasked with putting this stuff together to get it in the works, but I think we need a 2015 Mets Highlight video. Come on. I know they have to put in their general fluff about the Mets giving back to the community, but we need some goofy footage about Jacob deGrom's hair and Steven Matz and his family. What about a Bartolo Being Bartolo segment? The "We Follow Lucas Duda" Cam. And yes, even Matt Harvey storming around the mound screaming during the World Series (I believe in taking the bad as part of the good in the big picture. But that's another blog for another time). YouTube has been a great source for some short form Highlight fixes, but I think an official production is in order.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Rolling Heads

As per usual, I've kind of vanished from the Blogosphere the past month or so. Not so much because I've gone into hiding, but because there simply hasn't been much to say. Sure, I could have come back on November 3rd or 4th and done some soppy postmortem on the Mets season and the ride to the World Series. Hell, if they'd won the damn thing, I might have spent a week waxing poetic. But things went badly against Kansas City and now the Mets have to work on getting themselves back. No longer an also-ran, the Mets have proven themselves among the better teams in the league, and, dare I say it, a Team to Beat.

Which is why it's important that some moves get made here. One of the worst things the Mets did in 2000 was approach the ensuing offseason after losing the World Series with the attitude of, "Hey, we went to the World Series. We're good enough!" That sort of approach has really done wonders for the Mets. Just look at 2001 and 2007.

Which is why I'm sort of refreshed to see the Mets go out and make a couple of moves. Not major moves, but moves to tidy things up. Gone is Jon Niese, after spending parts of 8 seasons here, toiling for mostly bad teams in mostly hopeless situations and at times looking hopeless, but he had his moments. He's off to Pittsburgh in exchange for Neil Walker, who as far as I can discern is basically a more fundamentally sound Daniel Murphy. This, then, would mean that Murphy is most likely gone as well, and quite honestly if the Mets are going to just patch some holes, Murphy was one of the holes that needed to be patched. Yes, Murphy has been here as long as Niese and went through the same stretch of terrible teams, and in a vacuum you sort of feel a sentimental attachment, but let's face it. Daniel Murphy basically happened to have a really well-timed two-week hot streak and that sort of changed everyone's attitude towards him. I wasn't particularly fooled then and I'm still not fooled.

Also appearing will be Asdrubal Cabrera, whose signing really kicks Murphy out the door, possibly Ruben Tejada as well, and also moves Wilmer Flores into a more complimentary role. Again, Cabrera isn't a difference maker, but he's also not going to do stupid shit. And more importantly it's a change of pace. A different look.

Still, more to be done. But this is a good step in the right direction.