4/30/19

Tom Brennan - SAME OLD STORY

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It's the same old story.

The Mets' season starts so hopefully.  Last year, 11-1.  This year, 9-4.

Then, the same old story.

The Mets find new and surprising ways to lose - a lot.

Last year, it was a deluge of injuries.

This year, injuries have been a factor, and being 2nd in baseball in being HBP with 18 has not helped, but it hasn't been the injuries, by and large.

It's been just plain bad pitching.

A rotation I thought could be top 5 going into spring trainng will have to be top 1 the rest of the way to end up in the top 5.  

Team's starters' ERA?  5.21.  Compare to Tampa Bay's 2.04.


The term "Relievers" is a misnomer.  The Mets' pen provides little relief. 

Pen ERA? 5.63, 28th worst. 

Last year?  Also 28th worst. 

Consistency - of the wrong kind.

Meanwhile, the crosstown rival Yanks shrug off a slew of injuries, stare into adversity, and...what else???

They've surged to a 17-11 record and are 9-1 in their last 10, with a team ERA vastly better than the Mets.  



Their fans have been turning up in medical clinics because they hurt their faces smiling too much.

The same old story happened last year too - just as Mets fans got cocky at 11-1, they then watched the Yanks surge past them as they devolved into half a season's worth of putrid baseball.

The fast start, then mystifyingly bad baseball, has happened again this April in Queens.

CAN THE PITCHING REALLY BE THIS BAD?  

WILL IT IMPROVE SUBSTANTIALLY?

I SURE HOPE SO.  AND SOON.


On another "same old story" front, Todd Frazier did hit the grand slam to turn a solid lead in one game into a laugher...but he is 5 for 25 with no walks and 5 Ks - including 0 for 5 last night in a one run loss.  The Yanks discarded him.

Keon Broxton?  6 for 41, 19 Ks.  This year and last, 20 for 119 (.168) with 47 Ks.  The Yanks would already have discarded him.  

(Note: MLB vet Rajai Davis last 5 AAA games, 9 for 20, 4 walks, and fellow vet Carlos Gomez 9 for his last 32 - both are better than Keon).

We did, of course, discard d'Arnaud (2 for 23).

Those 3 are 13 for 89 (.146).  Every year, there is a pocket of putrid hitting.


In 2017, we had the glacial starts of Reyes and Grandy.

Last year, in 2018, it was another Reyes iceberg.


This year, meanwhile, J.D. Davis (OBP .397, slug % .484) was helping this team's offense hum - now he hardly gets up as Frazier plays.  Same old story - DUMB.

And the offense has slowed down.  Coincidence?

I could be wrong, but I think TODD should be the one playing sparingly.

That's all I have to say - a different chapter of the same old story.

My brother contributed a title for that same old story: 

"THE METS SUCK"




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Tony Plate - METS STARTING ROTATION IS STRUGGLING

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pictured: Broken Starter

The New York Mets starting pitching staff has been the backbone of the team during the last four years. It is a concern at the current time which is why the Mets record at the moment is 14-14 and they are 5-7 at home. 

The high ERAs of Jacob deGrom 4.85, Noah Syndergaard 6.35 and Zack Wheeler 5.05 are difficult to believe, but it is reality. 

They will come out of it, because their starting rotation is one of the best in the National League. Also, they will be better when the warm weather comes around, because it is easier for pitchers to get loose during the summer months.

The Mets placed Jacob deGrom on the injury list over a week ago as a precautionary measure, because of elbow soreness. He played catch the next two days much to the surprise of some of the media. 

deGrom (2-3) underwent an MRI exam and the result was negative. He then, went out and threw a 30-pitch bullpen session and reported no problems. 

He started last Friday against the defending Central Division Champion Milwaukee Brewers. He walked three and hit two batters over four innings in his first start since April 14. deGrom felt that he was just drifting off of the mound and his arm was not catching up. He struck out seven. He has a 9.69 earned run average in his last three starts. 

deGrom is human and nobody is perfect. Also, two other pitchers that are the aces of their staffs are off to rough starts. Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals is 1-3 with a 4.12 earned run average and Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians is 2-2 with a 5.81 earned run average. I think deGrom will eventually be fine.

Syndergaard’s previous start against the Brewers was rough. He gave up ten hits, a pair of homers, three walks and five earned runs in five innings. He has yielded four earned runs in five of six starts with a 1.47 WHIP and a batting average against of .299 

Noah thinks it is a combination of everything such as soft contact that somehow finds a hole and giving up the long ball so, something is not clicking. He is not pressing the panic button yet and still has confidence in his abilities.

Wheeler did not factor into the decision in Monday’s 5-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. He allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks over six innings while striking out four. 

The Reds tagged him for four runs in the second inning, but he pitched well afterwards and left the game with the score tied 4-4. He also, has a 37:17 K:BB through 35.2 innings. 

The Mets are still only two games out of first place and there is no need for them to panic. It is still early and they have a long season ahead of them and the starters will come around.




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Mack - 2019 Mets Transactions

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Sat, 4-27 –


PC - Ernest Dove
The Mets designated catcher Travis d’Arnaud for assignment. It looks like the d’Arnaud era is over here. I haven’t been much of a fan of what I have seen here this season, but you would think it would take move than 23 at-bats to cut a guy loose after TJS. Still, this looks like a win for #MetsTwitter and may also be a way of rattling the cave of both the starters and the pen. Everyone one of them loved this class act and I wish him well wherever he goes.


    
PC - Ed Delany
 
Replacing d’Arnaud on the Mets roster is catcher Tomas Nido.who was recalled by the Mets. Nido will be a step up defensively and delivered a 2-RBI double on Sunday to seal a Mets victory. Hey.this only raised his 2019 MLB batting average to .143. I want to remind everyone that he was a league leader for St. Lucie in 2016 (.320). hit .270 for the B-Mets last season, and was hitting .289 for Syracuse this season. The boy can hit minor league pitching. He just needs to bear down in the Bigs.

     

A-Columbia transferred P Dedniel Nunez to Low-A Brooklyn. The 22-year old starter came out of the Dominican and has had a decent stat line for the last 3-yrs foe the GCL-Mets, K-Port – 25-G, 18-starts, 8-5,4.44, 1.29, 106-IP, 115-K. This season so far for Columbia: 22-IP… 33-K. Is there something wrong here that they aren’t telling me?



      P Alec Kisena was transferred to A-Columbia from Rookie-Kingsport. Strange stat lines. Came out of Edmonds C.C. (WA) as a 16th round pick for the Tigers. Had nine starts for the 2015 CGL-Tigers Tigers that same year (1-1, 2.25, 1.28, 40-IP, 44-K) that would seem to warrant a bump up a level in 2016; however, he has to sit out the entire 2016 season with an injury. He signed on with the Gateway Grizzlies (IL) and the Mets signed him this February.
So far, the 23-year old has pitched in one game (start) for Columbia… 0-1, 2.45, 1.36, 3.2-IP, 1-R, 1-K, 2-BB.

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Tom Brennan - BASEBALL CONTRARIANS JEFF MCNEIL AND WILLIANS ASTUDILLO

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BASEBALL CONTRARIANS JEFF MCNEIL & WILLIANS ASTUDILLO


This is a new era in baseball:

An era of high, high home run totals

Coupled with:

High, high strikeout totals.


Two guys stick out as contrarians to that major league thrust of "All or Nothing At All" hitting:


The Mets' Jeff McNeil, now a favorite of Mets fans.


And


Willians Astudillo, catcher for the Minnesota Twins.



Why Contrarians?

Because both like to a) hit for average and b) not strike out.


Jeff McNeil, through April 26, in his career was hitting .339/.397/.481 in 344 plate appearances in the big leagues.  

Quite a few unbelievers thought he would regress in 2019 from his stellar, less-than-half-season .329 average of 2018, but he was hitting .365 in his first 96 PAs in 2019, so he seems to be upping his game instead.

He adheres to the old motto - hit 'em where they ain't.   He also understands that a 380 foot fly ball to a part of the park that is 390 feet will simply show up as an out in the box score.

Jeff has just 33 Ks in those 344 plate appearances, in a day and age where striking out less than once every ten times up should result in receiving a medal.


Willians Astudillo takes that "let's not strike out" mentality to a whole new level.   

The older brother of Mets catching lower minors prospect Wilfred Astudillo, the Twins catcher has been to the plate 49 times, walked just once, but is hitting .313 and has struck out ONCE.

Fluke?  Nope.  Last year, in his Twins debut, Astudillo was up 95 times, walked just twice, but hit an amazing .355 and fanned just THREE TIMES.  

So, in his big league career, he has fanned just 4 times in nearly 150 plate appearances.  In this day and age of ultra high velocity pitchers, that is utterly remarkable - and his MLB career slug % is a terrific .518.  

Remarkably, in almost 95% of his plate appearances, he puts the ball in play, walking and fanning less than 5% of the time!

His extreme avoidance of Ks is nothing new for Astudillo.   

From 2015 through 2018 in the minors, he had 1,113 official at bats and fanned just 40 times.

These two guys prove that you can hit for high average and accumulate very few strikeouts, even in this "High, high strikeouts" era of baseball.  

It is surprising that so few try to emulate them, since they do prove it can be done.

Of course, Mets fan might wonder if the "Low K" approach of Willians carries over to brother and Mets prospect Wilfred.  

The answer is, not to the same degree, but YES.

The just-turned-19 Wilfred will be playing in rookie ball in 2019, apparently, since he is not now in full season ball.  

However, in roughly 350 minor league plate appearances, mostly in the DSL but with 50 at bats in 2018 in the rookie Gulf Coast League, he's hit .277/.351/.360 and fanned just 33 times, or less than a 10% K rate.  

That kind of contact rate could find itself in Citifield in, say, 3 years.  

Contrarians like Jeff McNeil and Willians Astudillo can succeed in baseball.  More should try to be contrarians, too....they might just get there, too.
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4/29/19

Heiman to Step Down as Rumble Ponies Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations

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BINGHAMTON, NY – Tim Heiman will step down from his position as Binghamton Rumble Ponies’ Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations after his final broadcast on May 1. After more than seven seasons as the team’s lead radio broadcaster, Heiman will transition to a mechanical engineering position in the Binghamton area with BAE Systems. He will continue to serve as play-by-play broadcaster for Binghamton University’s Division 1 sports programs.

Jacob Wilkins will assume Heiman’s role as Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations. Wilkins, a native of East Meadow, NY, becomes the tenth lead radio broadcaster in the franchise’s history. He has spent the last six years as a sports update anchor in New York City working for WFAN and Sirius XM and has broadcasted college baseball with LIU Brooklyn since 2016. Following his graduation from Penn State University in 2010, Wilkins spent two seasons in Minor League Baseball as a play-by-play broadcaster for the Hudson Valley Renegades.

Heiman joined the Binghamton Mets in 2011 as a Broadcast and Media Relations Assistant working with Matt McCabe. Following McCabe’s departure, he made his debut as the team’s lead radio broadcaster in 2012. Heiman provided the play-by-play for four postseason runs, including the B-Mets’ Eastern League championship in 2014. Ballpark Digest named him Minor League Baseball’s Broadcaster of the Year in September 2018. That same season, the Rumble Ponies recognized the Smithtown, NY native for calling his 1,000th game for the organization.
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Tom Brennan - METS MINOR LEAGUE HOMERS - OR LACK THEREOF

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No homers on your minor league resume?  The majors may not want you much.  


The big leagues covets homers, you see.

At a time when (as of last week) the average major league team was on pace to hit a whopping 216 home runs, the Mets minors are doing nothing of the sort.
  

I will note Mets minors totals (through April 26), and Phillies totals, just as point of comparison:

AAA?

The veteran heavy Syracuse Mets team? 16 in 21 games.  

The Phillies AAA team? 33 in 20 games.

AA? 

Binghamton's Ponies have 8 in 15 games.

Phillies' team has 10 in 17 games.

High A?

St Lucie's Mets have 6 in 22 games.

Phillies' team has 15 in 22 games.

Full A?

Columbia has 7 in 21 games.

Phillies' team has 17 in 21 games.

Heck, the Twins' Full A team alone has 28 homers in 21 games, 7 more than Bingo, Lucie and the Flies combined (21) have in 58 games.

The Phillies on the 4 levels (75 HRs) have 38 more homers than the Mets' teams' 37 dingers.


Something wrong there, folks.


For sure, there are no Alonsos in the Mets minors this year.  Not even close, folks.
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Dwight Hood - Is it just me?

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PC - Ed Delany

Jacob DeGrom had a year for the ages in 2018. His season ERA ranked amongst historical lows posted by Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, and a young Dwight Gooden. Still, the Mets could not provide him with run support, and the team as a whole could not earn a playoff spot. I try to look for the positive, but sometimes, I’m still disappointed with the Mets.

Is it just me?

Pessimism is defined by Merriam-Webster as, “…an inclination to emphasize adverse aspects, conditions, and possibilities or to expect the worst possible outcome.”

I was born in December of 1969. Although I was not yet born to witness 1969, I have the 1969 World Series on DVD. From Swoboda’s miracle catch to “shoe shine” plays, it seemed that the Mets were destined to win in 1969.

It seems that pessimism came around in 1970. The ominous, omnipresent cloud of “nothing will ever really go right.”

Would it just be me?

1973 came around. The Mets would come all with way back from last place to take the NL East Pennant with what was at the time the lowest winning percentage for a pennant champion. We had the “Say Hey” kid on our team. Yes, he was aged and at the end, but we had him. We had his presence. We had Staub. We had Seaver. We had this…won…I thought….

Harrelson went toe to toe with Rose. This tussle at 2nd base was the symbol of our fight. Our tenacity. We would never say die. We took the Big Red Machine and stomped them like cherry tomatoes all the way to the World Series. We took the might Oakland Athletics to game 7…but…then it came…

Pessimism. It was like the impending nausea after the third slice of pepperoni with cheese. You don’t want it to come. After all, you love to eat the stuff. But, in the dark recesses of that vacuous space between your ears that you call a mind…you know it is coming. Now matter how hard you try to avoid it. To push it back. To deny it is there.

Maybe we should not have started Seaver on short rest for game 7 in 1973. Maybe having Mays in center was not such a good idea.

Maybe…all the incessant “what could have been”. Pessimism came back to ruin 1973 for us. Were we only expecting the worst possible outcome for our Mets? Maybe it was supposed to be this way. Why did we start to feel the Mets could never win?

Did anybody out there feel that way?

I watched my Mets through the “lean years” of the middle to late 1970s. Even though Stearns could catch, hit for power, AND steal bases. Even though all the girls loved Maz in those form fitting pants, even though we tried to forget that the likes of Henderson and Zachry could never replace Tom Terrific, I tried to believe we could do it. I tried to believe we could win. But I knew we could not. Pessimism.

Was it just me?


1986 was so GREAT! But, pessimism was staring at me behind the black and white TV set. Taunting me in Game 6 of the World Series. Snickering at me between the antenna, mocking me, sticking its tongue out at me.

BUT, THIS TIME…. Carter, Mitchell, Hernandez, Knight. I don’t remember the order. I remember hit after hit. Then, I will NEVER forget. Mookie hits a grounder to 1st…Buckner boots it! In comes KNIGHT AND THE METS WIN IT!! (Think of your best Scully voice).

I still get chills thinking about that moment. That moment when I made pessimism run and hide. I ran up and down the house and jumped up and down and STOMPED pessimism like the nasty bug that it was.

Then came Game 7. Then came World Series Champions!

Then came 1987. The Cardinals. Then 1988. The Dodgers. Then the 80’s went into the 90’s. Pessimism came back and hit me in the face. It smeared my countenance like a water gun filled with bleach right to the forehead (Remember that?).

Pessimism is back. I’m disappointed again. My hopes are dashed every year. We should have been a dynasty. We should have had a team full of Hall of Famers. I can’t be positive. I can’t think of the good times with my Mets.

Was it just me?

The 90’s. Generation “K”? No way. 1999. Was there supposed to be a walk to send in the winning run against us for the Braves in the NLCS? Was my favorite slugging catcher supposed to hit that deep fly ball in the 2000 World Series that was just not deep enough?

Pessimism just spit in my face and laughed at me. I’m sitting on my couch experiencing another disappointing season. Pessimism is repeatedly jumping on my head like a sadistic miniature ogre.

Did other Mets fans feel this way? Or was it just me?

Was I the only one who watched 2006 unfold, watched the snow cone catch of the home run over the left field wall only to watch probably the greatest center fielder in my team’s history watch that curve for strike 3 in the NLCS? Was I the only one who felt pessimism kick me in the gut in 2007 and 2008 as my Mets just ran out of gas down the stretch like an old 1927 Ford in a street race with a rag top Mustang?

Was this just me? Need I continue?

Oh yeah. Back to DeGrom.

I waited in nervous anticipating toward the beginning of the season. I wanted to call Brody and BEG him personally to PLEASE sign my favorite Met pitcher long term. We can’t let him get away. We can’t let pessimism get HIM. Like the proverbial thief in the night, would pessimism make him turn his back on us, sign with another team, set himself up with a self-imposed innings limit.

I know this was NOT just me.

DeGrom and the hurler known as Thor are struggling early this year. DeGrom has some “mechanical” issue and his arm “barks”. My Mets, as of today, are hovering near .500. We can hit this year, but now we can’t pitch. It seems like if we hit, we can’t pitch, if we pitch, we can’t hit.

Is that pessimism lurking behind the plasma??

Today Matz pinched 7 innings of 2 run ball. Just one mistake. A slider that didn’t quite slide. Got too much of the plate. I think I saw a little pessimism lurking. Hanging over the plasma from the top, his large nose pointing down toward the depths of my insecurity like the WWII “Kilroy was here” caricature.

Mets come back to win 5-2. I think Howie says that Mets are currently the best in the majors scoring runs in the 7th and beyond.

It can’t only be me. Let’s GO METS!!

How can you not love this team?!


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Reese Kaplan -- BVW Has an O-2 Count Last Week

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Back when the Mets were formed and they chose a fairly mediocre player named Hobie Landrith as their number one select, manager Casey Stengel famously said, “You have to have a catcher because if you don't you're likely to have a lot of passed balls.”

Picture by Ernest Dove

That thought came to mind with the somewhat surprising decision made by the Mets yesterday to DFA their previous catcher-of-the-future Travis d’Arnaud and promote light hitting Tomas Nido to take his place.  To make this transaction even more curious is that they decided to tender him a $3.7 million contract in the first place coming off Tommy John Surgery, then the statements in the press saying that the door is still open to a reunion with Devin Mesoraco who left in a huff when they chose not to bring him north from Florida.  Mesoraco is currently on the restricted list, so the Mets can allow him back if they so choose.  

This twist would seem to be the second major swing and miss this past week for general manager Brodie Van Wagenen.  First came the decision not to pursue free agent lefty Gio Gonzalez who inevitably signed with the Brewers for a salary of just $2 million plus an achievable additional $2 million in incentives.  Gonzalez had said it came down to the Mets and the Brewers, but he felt that the Brewers were going to give him a more likely chance to pitch in the rotation regularly.  That means that BVW is still squarely behind his predecessor’s mistake, Jason Vargas, though lately (and shockingly) he’s pitched better than pitchers named deGrom, Wheeler and Syndergaard (if not deep into games).  A guy who pitches well for a few innings would seem to be well suited to the bullpen, unless your bullpen has been so rock solid that there’s no room for improvement.  Other than Edwin Diaz (and sometimes Seth Lugo) it would seem there are LOTS of spots up for grabs. 

Now comes this curious spring training decision to spend the Wilpons’ limited payroll dollars on someone still not fully recovered from his injury and the bitter departure of the catcher who almost singlehandedly helped get Jacob deGrom into the history books.  Whomever the Mets install at the backup catcher slot, he’s not likely going to get many ABs with FA Wilson Ramos hitting well as the everyday backstop.

It’s entirely possible that TdA will indeed clear waivers and then be offered the chance to play for Syracuse, but it’s also possible he will go the T.J. Rivera route and leave the organization.  To many people they will mutter, “No great loss!” but others will continue to ponder both what might have been and why they tendered him a contract in the first place.  Is he still not throwing properly?  Is the fear that his slump is forever?  Was it his boneheaded attempt to stretch a single into a double behind 4-0?  Has he been a bad clubhouse presence, grumbling about his lack of playing time?  Is likely some combination of the above, though the defense is probably the lion's share of the issue.

Picture by Ed Delaney

Now in perhaps the most astonishing development of all, all Tomas Nido did as a pinch hitter in Sunday’s game was deliver a 2-run double to raise his average to a looking-up-at-Keon-Broxton .143.  That swing of the bat may have temporarily made BVW feel good about his decision, yet Nido was not brought in for his bat.  It’s clear that BVW swung and missed on TdA and must accept responsibility for two bad decisions during this past week.   
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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (April 28, 2019) – The Florida Fire Frogs held on to the beat the St. Lucie Mets 3-2 on Sunday afternoon at First Data Field.

Florida starting pitcher Jasseel De La Cruz limited the Mets to two singles and one run over six impressive innings to get the win. He walked one and struck out six. The previous two starting pitchers for the Fire Frogs lasted only 3.1 innings combined.

New York Mets infielder Jed Lowrie (left knee) began a rehab assignment with St. Lucie. He played all nine innings, splitting his time between shortstop and second base. At the plate Lowrie went 0 for 4 with two long fly outs to center field.

The Mets took an early 1-0 lead when Matt Winaker’s sac fly plated Carlos Cortes in the second inning.

The Fire Frogs tied the game 1-1 in the fifth inning on a solo home run by Izzy Wilson.

The next batter Riley Unroe singled and advanced to second on a fielding error. Riley Delgado followed with a RBI single to drive in Unroe for 2-1 Florida lead.

Both runs came against Mets starter Kyle Wilson who took the loss. He gave up two runs and seven hits across four innings.

The Fire Frogs scored their final run in the sixth inning. Brett Langhorne ripped a triple and scored on a sac fly by Shean Michel to make it 3-1.

The Mets tried to rally late. Luis Carpio hit a one-out double in the eighth. Then with two outs Jacob Zanon doubled to right to bring in Carpio to cut the deficit to 3-2. Zanon was left stranded on second base.

Quinn Brodey worked a leadoff walk in the ninth but Florida reliever Brandon White retired the next three batters in a row to end the game.

Florida catcher William Contreras went 4 for 4 with two doubles, two singles and a walk.

The Mets (13-11) are off on Monday. They return to First Data Field on Tuesday to start a three-game series against the Palm Beach Cardinals.
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