7/13/20

Metstradamus - The Alternate Universe: Mets at Marlins 7-12-2020

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The Alternate Universe: Mets at Marlins 7-12-2020
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The Sunday before the All-Star break tells you who has their concentration, and who is looking forward to four days off. You would think, in this matchup, that the Mets would be fully focused on the task at hand, while the Marlins, mired in last place, would be focused on their tee times.
But baseball has a funny way of twisting your latitude on things. The Marlins, with nothing else on in their vision but a vast wasteland, were just a little more focused on the game than the Mets, who have a playoff race to worry about. Giving away games isn’t the best course of action when you’re within a game and a half of five teams battling for two wild card spots, but it happens.

Don’t blame Marcus Stroman. Blame the shoddy defense behind him.
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Mike's Mets - Great Pitchers Require a Great Catcher

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Great Pitchers Require a Great Catcher


Yesterday I wrote about how I became a Mets fan at 10 years old. I didn't know much about baseball when I started watching it, but I liked the game and I picked things up fairly quickly. One of the earliest lessons learned was the value of great starting pitching. I knew from early on that Tom Seaver was really special, and I quickly came to appreciate the talents of Jerry Koosman, Gary Gentry and, later on, Jon Matlack.

It took me longer to realize the importance of having the right guy behind the plate, managing your pitching staff and calling the game. It was over a period of years that I slowly came to appreciate the superb talents of the the man who caught most of the games those pitchers threw, Jerry Grote.

Grote was already a well-established member of the Mets when I started rooting for them in 1969. Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Grote was drafted by the Houston Colt .45s (later the Astros) in 1962 after one season at Trinity University in San Antonio. The 20-year-old debuted in a brief cameo for Houston in 1963. By 1964 Grote was sharing the catching duties in Houston, appearing in 100 games but only slashing .181/.240/.262 on the season. Grote spent all of the 1965 season in Triple-A, then was traded to the Mets after that season for a player to be named later and cash.

Jerry Grote became the Mets starting catcher in 1966, batting .237 and earning praise for his handling of the pitching and defensive skills. The following season 22-year-old Tom Seaver appeared on the scene and teamed up with the 24-year-old Grote in a pairing that would notch a lot of wins over the next decade. Grote only batted .195 on the season, but continued to demonstrate fine defensive skills, including throwing out 49% of baserunners attempting to steal.

1968 saw a couple of huge additions to the Mets. Gil Hodges took over as manger, and a young lefty named Jerry Koosman joined Tom Seaver in the rotation. Grote enjoyed the first of his two All-Star appearances, and gave a lot of the credit for his improved offense and game management to his new manager:
"This is the biggest thrill in my life. This year we lowered my hands and shortened my swing at bat, and I started hitting those line drives again. And when I go out to call a game for our young pitchers, I feel prepared and comfortable. There's no second-guessing except to prevent mistakes."
Grote slashed .282/.357/.349 at the plate in 1968, good for an OPS+ of 113, his highest career mark as a regular.

Grote had a solid year offensively in 1969, batting .252 with career highs in home runs (6) and RBIs (40). He had a terrific season behind the plate, throwing out 56% of baserunners and masterfully handling a pitching staff featuring Seaver, Koosman and Gary Gentry. He also excelled calling games for the pitching staff. Pitchers liked to throw to him, and you rarely saw them shake off a lot of pitches. Grote caught every inning of every game the Mets played in the playoffs against the Braves and the Orioles, including the final out of the World Series that is captured in the iconic picture of Jerry Koosman jumping into his catchers arms.

Grote continued to put up solid numbers in 1970 and 1971, but the team struggled to recapture the magic of that 1969 championship. It wasn't for lack of leadership from their now veteran backstop. Grote was widely acclaimed as one of the best defensive catchers in the game. Lou Brock once referred to Grote as "the toughest catcher in the league to steal on."

He was also developing a reputation as a world class curmudgeon. Grote wasn't afraid to share his opinions with umpires if he didn't think his pitcher was getting the calls. I remember seeing Grote get annoyed by a young Mets pitcher failing to throw strikes or shaking off too many pitches. Grote would put a little extra mustard when returning the ball back to the pitcher to show his displeasure.

Injuries marred Grote's 1972 and 1973 seasons, although he did make it back in '73 for the playoff push and to once again catch every inning of every Mets playoff game.

In 1974 Grote was named to his second All-Star game, but again dealt with injuries while the Mets sank back into a fifth place finish. There was one iconic Grote moment that season when umpire Bruce Froemming, feuding with the Mets over some alleged missing baseballs, accused Grote of allowing a Harry Parker pitch to purposely hit him. Grote claimed he was crossed up, but I would bet that it was intentional. It was a very Grote-like thing to do.

There would be no more magic during Jerry Grote's final years in New York. The best they could do was a third place finish in 1976. Grote had good offensive seasons for the Mets during that stretch, and continued to be one of the best defensive catchers in the game, but the Mets were slowly sinking into the murk of one of the darkest areas of their existence.

In June of 1977, the Mets betrayed their fans by shipping Tom Seaver out of town. That August, Grote was traded to the Dodgers for a couple of prospects that didn't pan out. Grote retired following the 1978 season, made a brief comeback with Kansas City and the Dodgers in 1981, then packed it in for good.

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Reese Kaplan -- Progress Towards Opening Day (Kind Of)

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Roster construction news is an ever changing medium as illnesses, injuries and incompetence constantly weigh heavily on who does and who does not make the ballclub.  Some folks are absolute givens for the team playing to a vacant Citifield, like Jacob deGrom, Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil.  Then there are the others “mysteriously” missing from camp like Brad Brach and Robinson Cano who may or may not be suffering the effects of the COVID-19 virus.  HIPAA laws prevent announcing the test results unless the players themselves choose to do so themselves like Aroldis Chapman did across town.  



Right now there are many people not shedding too many tears about the possibility of Robinson Cano volunteering to take the season off at no pay.  Not only does it mean Jeff McNeil could return to his natural position at second base, but given Cano’s lackluster performance in his first New York Mets portion of his contract, it would likely be an improvement.  Of course, these same folks don’t think it through entirely, not realizing who would play 3rd base and who would play left field.  J.D. Davis can’t do both simultaneously (nor well).  Yoenis Cespedes may or may not be ready to play Opening Day, but DH would suit his limited mobility better than on the field.  The real winners here would be the Wilpons who might duck out from under the remainder of the paycheck due to Cano.




On Saturday I saw the first 60-man roster published but it seemed highly premature.  The club doesn’t know who is healthy enough to receive the assignments, there were something like 8 catchers under roster consideration and the outfield looked pretty slim indeed after the group with plenty of major league experience.  What called the list into question even further was that after the initial members were listed, a whole other list of players appeared with no indication of their status.  I’m guessing it was someone’s evaluation of who should be included, not anything official from the Mets.  Given that the Mets had just 51 identified (minus two MIA ballplayers listed above), it’s highly unlikely that the final 9 to 11 names miraculously were written in ink.



Of course, with more and more players being named infected or who have chosen to bypass this overgrown exhibition season of 60 games, no single team can rightly claim to have identified who is on the opening 30-man roster and who is on the 30-man taxi squad.  Availability of ballplayers seems mostly fluid.  For the Mets to be at the forefront of this decision making seems highly unlikely as they are known as feet draggers.


Whatever rendition of baseball begins in less than two weeks, everyone will be glad to have something resembling the game back, even without fans, with a DH and with the extra innings rule.  As much as the pandemic has overwrought our imaginations and stress levels, having something more normal to occupy a few hours per day of our time is going to be a welcome relief.  While no one ever expected baseball to begin in late July, no one ever expected to be wearing a face mask and disinfecting tactile surfaces multiple times per day either.  You adapt.
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John From Albany – Mets Breakfast Links 7/13/2020

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Good Morning. Happy Birthday Mike Fitzgerald. Yoenis Cespedes homers off Seth Lugo in the intra-squad game plus it is the anniversary of the 1977 “Blackout” game.


Mets Links:




Prime Time Sports Talk: Mets’ Updated 60-Man Pool With IL. Yehuda Schwartz has the current 58 man list with recent additions Catcher David Rodriguez, RHP Matt Blackham, and RHP Franklyn Kilomé.


Mets.com: Melky to 'give it my all' in fight for roster. Anthony DiComo also included these notes on yesterday’s Intrasquad competition - Starting at designated hitter in the Mets’ simulated game Sunday, Yoenis Céspedes drove home a fourth-inning run with an RBI single off reliever Seth Lugo. Céspedes had homered off Lugo several days earlier. He spent the entire game at DH, despite manager Luis Rojas indicating he will see time at left field in the coming days.  Other highlights from the intrasquad game included Edwin Diaz striking out a pair in a perfect inning, and Rick Porcello stretching out to four innings of one-run ball.







NY Post: MetsMarcus Stroman wants to ‘dominate’ high-stakes season.





The Mets Police: Edgardo Alfonzo wants you to step up your census game. “Today, I would like to ask you a favor that will be fundamental for our own future and the future of our families,” Alfonzo says in the PSA.








MLB LINKS:











Minor League Baseball:



Asian Baseball:

Yesterday in Japan:

Yakult Swallows 3 Yomiuri Giamts 2 Nori Aoki 1 for 3, 2 runs, 1 BB, 1 RBI (Box Score).


All the games yesterday in the KBO were postponed. 














Mack’s Blast from the Past: Mets Minor League Report – July 13, 2014: Binghamton (57-38) edges Erie (44-51) 5-4. Hansel Robles: 5.0 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 8 H, (HR) 2 BB, 4 K.; Brandon Nimmo: 3-5, R.; Dilson Herrera: 1-3, HR, BB, 3 RBI, 2 R.; Darrell Ceciliani: 2-2, 2B, 2 BB.


Born on this date:
Transactions:

New York Mets purchased 
Joe Pignatano from the San Francisco Giants on July 13, 1962.

New York Mets signed free agent Bob McClure on July 13, 1988.

New York Mets signed free agent Jeurys Familia on July 13, 2007.

New York Mets released Juan Padilla on July 13, 2008.


1977
With New York third baseman Lenny Randle at the plate in the sixth inning, Shea Stadium goes dark when the Big Apple suddenly experiences a blackout. Before the game against the Cubs is suspended due to the power shortage, the Mets' players drive their cars onto the field and amuse the crowd by performing a variety of antics in front of the headlights. (My thanks to Anthony Ventarola for submitting this event).





1975 - The Reds score four runs in the 8th inning to defeat Tom Seaver and the Mets, 5 - 3. The Reds have won 41 of their last 50 games.

1977 - At Shea Stadium, the Cubs' game is suspended due to a major black-out which darkens New York City. The Mets players amuse the crowd by performing antics in front of the headlights of cars which they drive onto the field.

2001: Mets C Mike Piazza hits his 300th career home run in New York's 3 - 1 loss to Boston.

2012: Chipper Jones ties Mike Schmidt for second place on the all-time list for RBI by a third baseman, knocking in his 1,595th run with a homer in Atlanta's 7 - 5 win over the Mets. Jones is now one RBI behind George Brett among players who played the majority of their careers at the hot corner. C David Ross filling in for Brian McCann, who is on paternity leave, drives in 4 runs for the Braves, who also benefit from 11 walks issued by New York pitchers.




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7/12/20

Mets360 - What if Robinson Cano opts out of the 2020 season?

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What if Robinson Cano opts out of the 2020 season?

by Brian Joura  

Recently, Robinson Cano has been missing from camp for an undisclosed reason. Now, it’s possible by the time you read this that Cano has returned and everything is a-ok. But as it’s 2020 and nothing seems to go as one might expect, there’s the possibility that things are less than rosy. What follows is purely a theoretical exercise. What would the Mets do if Cano was to follow the lead of other veterans like Ian Desmond, Buster Posey and Ryan Zimmerman and opt out of the 2020 season?

Right now, Cano is set to be the team’s starting second baseman and it’s likely he would see some time at DH, too. Health permitting, Cano figured to get in the neighborhood of 55 starts and despite what you may think of his being on the team at all, it would create problems trying to replace that many starts at the drop of the hat.

The good news is that because of their depth, the Mets would have multiple options on how they would go about replacing him. The biggest wildcard would be the health of Jed Lowrie. If Lowrie was ready to go, the Mets could simply insert Lowrie as the starting second baseman and pretty much call it a day. But there are serious doubts that Lowrie is ready to handle that kind of load. The good news is that at last look, Lowrie ripped a double off Jacob deGrom in a sim game. The bad news is no one has any idea how much his leg will allow him to play in 2020.

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Metstradamus - The Alternate Universe: Mets at Marlins 7-11-2020

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The Alternate Universe: Mets at Marlins 7-11-2020
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With change of ownership rumors raging on in New York, the Mets were isolated (in more ways than one) at Marlins Park where Jacob deGrom was tasked with making sure the Mets didn’t slide into the All-Star break on their asses. It would be typical Mets to get swept by the Marlins in Miami to take their sundae of a season so far and put ketchup on it.
(Shout out to Rick Peterson.)
Corey Dickerson sent shock waves throughout the throngs of Mets fans at Marlins Park with a two run home run in the first off deGrom.
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Mike's Mets - When BC Meant Before Cable

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When BC Meant Before Cable


I spent some time today thinking about how I became a Mets fan. After more than five decades in rooting for this team, it seems that this was just somehow meant to be, but that's certainly not true in my case. I grew up without a father, so there was no family tradition of fanhood handed down to me. I was never even taken to a live sporting event of any kind until I grew up, got a license and a car, and took myself.

I grew up in Hamden, Connecticut, a suburb of New Haven, in an area that was fairly divided in sports loyalties between Boston and New York. New York was closer, and subsequently had more fans, but in the late 1960s that meant primarily Yankee fans. You could probably find more Dodgers and Giants fans still than Mets fans, despite the fact that both teams had been in California for a decade.

My formative years as a sports fan were 1968 and 1969. I had just turned 10 in the late fall of 1968, and it was then that I first remember watching sports and forming my allegiances. As I've said. without a Dad in my life, the choice on which team to root for was up to me. I started rooting for the New York Giants in football because they were carried almost every week on channel 3 out of Hartford. Had I realized how bad they were I might have thought twice about it, but my allegiance was already formed by the time I figured it out.

I picked up the Rangers and the Knicks over the winter because they were both on channel 9 and I could watch a lot of games. Sure, it often involved putting up with a snowy picture and the need to constantly fine tune that old analog signal, but that seemed like a small price to pay as I found myself sucked in to the teams that I would spend the rest of my life supporting. It might have been different if cable tv existed back then, or if we lived closer to Boston than New York, but the reality was that, in those ancient pre-cable days, most of my teams were essentially chosen for me by what was available on broadcast tv.

The one real exception was baseball. In the summer of 1969, 10-year-old me was standing on a path that forked in 3 different directions. I could have chosen to be a Red Sox, Yankees or Mets fan. All three choices were available to me, as I could watch the games of all three teams on tv. The Mets were on channel 9, the Yankees on channel 11, and a smattering of Red Sox games were rebroadcast by local channel 8. Broadcast from a tower in northern Hamden, channel 8 was always the strongest station on the dial in those analog days. A point for the Red Sox.

Both the Red Sox and Yankees had a better track record of success than a New York Mets ballclub that was still widely viewed as a joke. Even at 10 years old I was familiar with the Yankees history. The Red Sox were only a couple of years removed from a trip to the World Series and were still quite good. The battle for my fanhood was on.

I weeded out the Yankees first. I just didn't care for their tv announcers. Phil Rizzuto gave me a headache, and the other guys seemed boring to me. I would come to learn in later years that the Yankees once had legends like Mel Allen and Red Barber doing their broadcasts, but that was before I came along. They've been consistently bad since I've been following sports, with guys like Michael Kay and John Sterling keeping the "tradition" going to the present day.

The Red Sox were more of a near miss. Their tv crew at the time sounded okay to me, and they still were a pretty good club. And the games were on the one analog signal that you never had to tinker with and constantly fine tune the signal. I could have easily become a Red Sox fan that year, except that channel 8 didn't carry many of their games. Mostly they just had some weekend games. Meanwhile, on channel 9, the majority of Mets games were aired. I started watching Mets games all those days that the Red Sox weren't on and, before I even knew it, the Mets became "my" baseball team.

Of course, some of the attraction was also the unfolding magic of the 1969 Mets. Not that it looked as if they were going to win anything. Even as late as August 14 they were still sitting 10 games behind the first place Cubs, but they were still a cool and exciting team to me.

As someone who had to learn the intricacies of every sport I began to follow on my own, I was lucky enough to take my beginner's class in baseball with Professors Nelson, Kiner and Murphy. The Mets broadcasters were real pros, and made the game of baseball understandable to me. While I had been turned off by the cacophony of the Yankees booth (Holy cow!), I found the Mets broadcasters understandable and inviting.

One of the first Mets game I watched was a Tom Seaver start, and I quickly learned the most important detail of those early Mets years: Seaver was a god. I still had a lot to learn about the game of baseball, but Tom Seaver was so clearly the best player on the field every time he was out there it was obvious to me when I still knew practically nothing about the game. In 1969 Seaver was still quite young himself at age 24, in my youthful ignorance it seemed to me that Tom Seaver would be around virtually forever. Even though I was 18 when Seaver was traded to the Reds 8 years later that is still the most traumatized I've ever felt from something that happened to a team I supported - more so than tough playoff losses and late season collapses, because that's when I first understood that you couldn't trust the people in charge of your team to do what's right. That's a lesson I've relearned many times since then.

Anyway, as the summer of 1969 wore on, I was getting pretty solid on the basics of baseball while the Mets were starting to put the heat on the Cubs. They caught fire at the end of August and wound up winning the division by 8 games. It was quite a turnaround.

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