By Aaron Schuldiner
In light of the rough finishes to the last two seasons in Flushing, it has become easy, if not fashionable, for Met fans to push the panic button after every loss. But when you’ve won eleven of your last thirteen games, you’re entitled to an off night against a good starting pitcher, right?
Entitled or not, that was the case Sunday, as the Giants edged the Mets 2-0 behind six shutout innings from Matt Cain. Cain walked five, but allowed only three hits, and got two huge double plays to kill the only two rallies the Mets could muster. In the second inning, Jeremy Reed, playing for the injured Carlos Delgado, bounced into a bases-loaded double play before Mets starter Mike Pelfrey grounded out to end the inning. Then in the eighth, Jeremy Affeldt got Angel Pagan to hit into an inning-ending double play, again with the bases loaded. The Mets went quietly in the ninth, as Giant closer Brian Wilson looked dominant after taking losses on Thursday and Friday.
Cain did not have his best command, but every time the Mets tried to put something together, he buckled down and put out the fire. That was in contrast to Pelfrey, who pitched well overall, but sabotaged himself with three balks. Both runners that scored for the Giants advanced from first base to second on balks, the second run coming in on an RBI single by none other than Cain.
It has always been my stance that Pelfrey has front-of-the-rotation talent, but mentally, it sometimes appears he’s not there yet. After the second balk he was visibly shaken. After the call was made, Pelfrey almost fell down while kicking the back of the pitcher’s mound in frustration, stirring up memories of his embarrassing tumble off the mound in the Citi Field opener. After the game, Pelfrey joked that maybe he just likes making a fool out of himself when he’s on national television. The Mets can only hope that the issue can be worked out of Pelfrey’s mechanics quickly, and doesn’t develop into some kind of Mackey Sasser-esque mental tic. Since Pelfrey didn’t balk once in his 290-plus innings prior to 2009, I would assume that it’s something he and pitching coach Dan Warthen can get figured out.
Sure, there’s no such thing as a good loss, and with this team there are no moral victories. The fan base is insatiably hungry for wins, and both Manager Jerry Manuel and G.M. Omar Minaya could find themselves on the unemployment line if the Mets don’t play their way into October. There have already been a few bad losses this year, the kind that you lose sleep over. Both of Johan Santana’s losses in which he didn’t allow a single earned run and the twelve-inning loss to Atlanta come to mind.
So, considering the Mets took three out of four at AT&T Park, where the Giants had the second best home record in the league before this series, it’s hard to be too disappointed. And considering those three wins featured the Mets setting a franchise record with seven steals in a game, plus an impressive comeback win over reigning Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum (In my mind, the signature win of the season to date), it’s hard not to be encouraged. Throw in the facts that the Mets essentially played the entire series without Reyes and Delgado, have won eleven of their last fourteen, and currently occupy first place in the N.L. East, and I suspect that last night’s loss might be quickly forgotten by the masses with a win tonight in L.A..
But for Pelfrey, it might take a balk-free start in Boston next weekend. A second performance like last night’s won’t be nearly as easy for him to laugh off.
Despite allowing seven walks, Cain, Affeldt, Wilson, and Bob Howry never let the Mets get on the board, stranding nine runners in the process. Cain moved to 4-1 on the year and lowered his ERA to a stingy 2.65.
Granted it was a makeshift lineup, and it was unfortunate that the Mets’ three bases loaded at-bats were taken by Pagan, Reed, and Pelfrey. But when you leave the bases loaded twice against a good staff, there’s always a good chance you won’t get another opportunity, as was the case last night.
It shouldn’t be lost among Pelfrey’s mental lapses that he did pitch pretty well last night, but no starter had balked three times in a game since 1994, when ex-Met Al Leiter completed the trifecta for Toronto.
THANKS FOR THE ADVICE. MAYBE YOU SHOULD BE A G.M.
Considering the way Steve Phillips was fired from his job as Mets General Manager in 2003 and subsequently run out of town, there was something funny about hearing Phillips on last night’s ESPN broadcast try to convince a national audience that the Mets should trade Carlos Beltran at the season’s end. Thankfully, Joe Morgan called Phillips out, explaining that Beltran’s skill set at his position is virtually irreplaceable. As one fan said to me on a local baseball message board, it’s scary when Joe Morgan becomes the voice of reason.
After taking three of four in San Francisco, the Mets will head south to take on the Dodgers who, at 14-3, own the best home record in baseball. Tim Redding is slated to make his first start for the Mets against the Dodgers’ Randy Wolf. Gametime is 10:10 EST.
May 20, 2009
By Aaron Schuldiner
May 18, 2009
About to leave for tonite's game, but I just found out that Carlos Delgado is having his hip operated on tomorrow in NY and will be out at least through the All-star break. He has a torn labrum and a bone spur in his hip- not good news at all!
Also, in order to add Tim Redding to the roster to start tonite's game, the Mets have once again designated Nelson Figueroa for assignment. I am betting this time he won't resign with us, and he shouldn't. Omars' greatest weakness remains roster management, and here is one more example.
More after tonite's game!
Posted by David Rubin at 6:24 PM
I hope everyone in Mets-dom is doing well!!
Sorry for the lack of posts these last few months- wanted to give everyone an update.
After losing my father last year, my wife was told that she needed a kidney transplant, so we've been dealing with that non-stop for the past eight months or so. The good news is that she is holding her own, but it's a long fight that we are only in the beginning rounds of, and therefore time has been a precious commodity. That doesn't mean that I haven't been following and discussing all things Mets, and it's appropriate that I'm posting today as the Mets take on the Dodgers in Los Angeles, my home these last 16 years.
I'll be attending the games here, and will post some thoughts each day, and I will return some time within the next 24-36 hours with part one of my annual Baseball Book Review.
In the meantime, it's too much for me to post full-time, and since John Young is no longer posting/editing here, we're looking either for
a.) a full-time poster (or multiple posters) to take up the daily mantle,
b.) we're looking to move to an existing, popular Mets site where we can contribute articles as things strike our fancy.
Your thoughts/suggestions are greatly appreciated, and let's hope that the Mets continue their winning ways out here in La-La Land!!
Thanks for reading!!
Posted by David Rubin at 5:08 PM
December 10, 2008
Mets decided to take money from fans today. Unfortunately, the Mets have cut every one of their games to 7 innings. Well, they will still be playing 9, but after a bullpen filled day, the Mets signed Francisco Rodriguez (3 years, 37 Million) and traded for JJ Putz. Not only did we add 2 guys much better than our bullpen, Minaya found a way to get rid of Heilman. Omar also traded Mike Carp (a mino leaguer who has not come close to being what we expected). However, the Mets traded their most consistent bullpen pitcher, Joe Smith and fan favorite icon Endy Chavez. I did not like this part of the trade but I am sure this is what is best for the team. K-Rod and Putz should drastically help the Mets next year more than Smith and Chavez. The Mets also acquired Sean Green (not the outfielder we once had) and Jerremy Reed.
This was an amazing day in fixing the Mets. Now the Mets can focus on their starters. So far, it looks like the Mets will give Niese a shot at the rotation, especially with the big names being courted by the Yankees, raising the price of them. Lowe has a lot of teams after him and Burnett seems to be going to the Braves or Yanks. We shall see, my guess is we go after Randy Wolf or Garland now that Edwin Jackson has been traded.
Congratulations Mets fans, the bullpen is finally being addressed. I'm hoping we can get one more player with these guys to fill Smith's spot and leave Feliciano for the lefties. I doubt we can get rid of Schoeni now, I don't see anyone taking him off our hands.
Look for the next big transaction for the Mets to be related to some starter. I dread them settling on a 1 year contract with Pedro, but it is possible if noting else comes available (and I don't agree with this). I still say Oliver Perez is worth the years and money compared to these other guys. He is younger and if he finds his control (big if) it could be a huge reward. With Lowe, we'd be getting an older guy on the end of his career and with Burnett and Sheets, we'd be getting yearly injuries. We shall see folks, but for now we can be happy. I love Chavez and Smith but I'll say it again, I am sure this will be better for the team!!!
Posted by Robert Milelli at 11:55 PM
October 13, 2008
We can all look back on this roller coaster season and question, second guess, and even criticize the Mets for what they did. Sure they crashed and burned one more time, and I am as hard as they come when judging my team, but I can honestly say, we are better than half the teams in the playoffs. Last year, when we missed the playoffs, we deserved it. We were bad and that's all there is to it. This year was different. We actually were good, we actually deserved it. We were down 7.5 games early on and came back. This was truly a magical season. Sure we blew another opportunity, but I am honestly proud to still say I am a Met fan. I was as depressed as any and still get that feeling when I see the Phillies continue to win, but I know, we will bounce back and overcome our harships.
Now let's talk about fixing this team up. Sure, the Mets have a lot of money, but there are limits. Obviously, if we had an endless supply, you'd see a rotation of Santana, Peavey, Sabathia, Maine, and Pelfrey while having K-Rod as your closer and signing Texiera and Manny in the same breath. Wouldn't everybody love to see this. Obviously this can't happen. Sure, we'll free up a lot of money, but the probability of signing more than one big name guy is highly unlikely. In fact, signing one of them would really be questionable.
Peavy is up for trade. He is the best starting pitcher available available to acquire, however we do not have enough to give up to acquire him. The only way would be to probably through Delgado and F-Mart to them, but then you would have a hole at first (Texiera would need a lot of money as well and signing Peavey and Texiera would be too costly). Also, the Padres have Adrian Gonzalez so they wouldn't need Delgado. So Peavey is out.
Sabathia has shown to be a great National League pitcher for half a year. His problem is not so much us, but it is him. He loves and wants to stay in the National League, but he truley doesn't want to come to the east coast. He is rumored to want to move to the West Coast, leaving the Dodgers the likely candidate for him. We shall see, but I believe it will be hard for him to wear a Met uniform.
Texiera is the best first basemen on the market. With the Mets picking up Delgado's option, rightfully so, Texiera's only way of becoming a Met is through a trade of Delgado. I do question is Delgado can put up numbers next year like he did this year, but we do know he is capable of it, and he comes a lot cheaper than Texiera. Most likely, it will be hard to pry Texiera from the Yankees, because we sure know Hank will be throwing money to players left and right to get his beloved Yankees back to the playoffs.
Manny doesn't like New York. Omar does like Manny. Unfortunately, Omar will probably lose the battle because Manny will require too long a contract and a lot of money. The Dodgers have a ton of money and will definitely be willing to pay Manny with how he got them over the hump single handedly.
K-Rod is a possibility for us. Obviously we need a closer, but obviously, we need a bullpen. By giving him so much money, we would be limiting our ability to acquire other bullpen guys which is truly needed. I do, however, worry that since the Angels, who have the money to sign K-Rod, would let him go, since he has been so good. Overall though, I'd still sign him in a heart beat. Fuentes is good, but he doesn't scare me like K-Rod would. If we're going to be paying 10 million a year (what Fuentes wants) for a closer, I'd rather pay more and get one of the best there is.
Here is my plan for logically fixing the Mets. It will be costly, but not in the sense that we all want. I would get rid of all the bullpen guys with the exception of Joe Smith. I would then bring in many guys who can pitch to both lefties and rigthies. No more of this specialist non sense. Stokes was this way for a while, but then even he blew it. The main part is definitely fix the bullpen obviously. I would keep Smith, and I would get rid of all of the others, even if it means paying their salaries for next year. I would first try to trade them for any possible reliever in return, but if they have no value, which I don't think they do, I would just release them and pay their salaries. I would sign K-Rod if you can win the battle. I think it is a neccessity. I would trade for guys like Houston Street and or Kevin Gregg and make them the eight inning man. I would then bring in three more relievers, either through trade of our current relievers, or through free agency. I would also give Parnell a shot and maybe another young guy, in spring training to see what they got. I also think we will end up trading Nick Evans away. He has not much benefit to us because he is a true first basemen which we have too many players there and he isn't a great outfielder. His hitting was decent, but that looked to be more of a fluke than say Murphy. I do beleive the Mets will trade him to a team and in return get a decent reliever. They may end up packaging a couple of their guys like Castillo, Evans, and some of their relief to get packages in return.
Second base is a huge issue. Here is how to fix it. Get rid of Castillo. There, fixed. I would trade Castillo away for any reliever worth putting in the bullpen. If not, I'd release him and eat his salary for three years. It is worth it. I would then sign Orlando Hudson and his personality to fit right in with the Mets. This will be so much more productive in the batting order than having Castillo there. A lot of people are talking about moving Murphy to second. I love the way this guy hits and he seems more than just a lucky scrub. He looks like a true hitter. I also think he is an awful fielder, no matter where you put him. I don't think second base is the smartest position for him. I think it will be good to use Murphy as a platoon with left, right, and fill in at first, rather than have him be the starting second baseman.
For the rotation, I would sign Ollie back. I know it is highly unlikely, but he is still young. He will demand and receive a long term contract worth a lot of money. It will hurt to sign him and I know his Jeckyl and Hyde ways, but the guy can be great. He will come cheaper than people like Sabathia and you don't really have to worry about injury like you would with Ben Sheets and AJ Burnett. You are going to need two starters next year, and with Ollie (who has streaks where he is untouchable) you would only need one. You can then pay a guy like Derek Lowe, who will demand less years and money than these other guys, as your fifth starter. This would be an incredible rotation with a revamped bullpen.
Catcher is such a bad position. Unfortunately, we don't have anyone real good and Castro gets hurt all the time. We do still have Schneider under contract and there isn't anyone to sign to make Schneider worth releasing. Most likely, we will go into the season with a platoon of Castro and Schneider again, which actually worked out pretty well.
The last hole is quite a difficult one to figure out. Obivously, Church will stay in right, and he was our MVP early on. I don't think he is as bad as he played at the end of last year. I think he is somewhere in the middle of beginning part to the season and the end of the season. He should never have been playing last year and he should be good to go next year. As for left field, we need to bring someone in. Adam Dunn is a terrible fielder. His home runs will definitely help the offense, but the lack of batting average will hurt during rallies. I don't think this is the way to go. He will be costly as well. An even higher price comes Manny Ramirez. Manny will get 4 or 5 years and that is scary because he is 37. That would bring him well into his 40's making a lot of money. If we can get him for 3 years, I would do it. He is one of the best hitters in the game still. This is exactly what we need in the lineup. But with what he is demanding, I think it will be a difficuly sign. Plus, Manny playing for a New York team sounds weird. A cheaper route would be to sign Raul Ibanez. I know he is just as old, but he will be less expensive, plus not require such a long contract. He still can hit well too. He is a very underrated player. I see a platoon with Murphy in the outfield with Ibanez and Church. I think it is valuable to keep Murphy in the lineup, but it is very dangerous because he is such a poor fielder. I also think F-Mart should start to think towards the major leagues because by the end of the year, I believe he could really be an added player to this team. He could give us spark.
***Note, The Mets are likely to make a couple trades this offseason, so if people are wondering why am I talking all of this trade talk for relievers because we have no one to trade, we really do. I learned that if Mota can be traded, anyone can. With Evans and Murphy emerging, the Mets have a couple pieces of trade material. It probably won't warrant too much in return, but at least they have cards to play with. If they do break up the core, Beltran would be the first to go, but this is highly unlikely and would definitely make me angry. They could also pick up Delgado's option and then trade him, but that will probably not happen as well. Castillo and some of their relievers could be traded, but have very little value in return.
So heading into 2009, my Mets batting order and rotation look something like this.
1. Jose Reyes, SS
2. Orland Hudson, 2B
3. David Wright, 3b
4. Carlos Beltran, CF
5. Carlos Delgado, 1B
6. Ryan Church, RF
7. Raul Ibanez, LF
8. Brian Schneider, C
Castro, Anderson, Murphy, Endy
and the Rotation:
1. Johan Santana
2. Mike Pelfrey
3. Oliver Perez
4. John Maine
5. Derek Lowe
and the Bullpen:
Francisco Rodriguez, Cl
Houston Streen, Setup
Joe Smith, Middle Relief
Bobby Parnell, Middle Relief
Eddie Kunz, Middle Relief
Kevin Gregg, Middle Relief
Posted by Robert Milelli at 2:48 PM
October 09, 2008
The Hawaii Winter League a few weeks ago and there are several players in the Mets minor league system on the Honolulu Sharks. Representing the Mets are pitchers Junior Guerra who has a 10.29 era after 7 innings pitched, Roy Merrit who is 0-1 with a 4.05 era after 6.2 innings pitched, Scott Shaw with a 1.35 era in 6.2 innings, and Josh Stinson who is 2-0 with a 0.87 era after 10.1 innings.
Position player wise the Sharks have young shortstop Ruben Tejada who is batting .308 after 6 games, catcher Jordan Abruzzo who has a .214 average after 14 at-bats, and second baseman Greg Veloz who is hitting .323 in 8 games.
I am looking for writers for Mets Prospects. If you're intrested email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Kyle at 7:32 PM
October 07, 2008
The Mets have 7 players representing them in the Arizona Fall League on the Peoria Saguaros. Representing the Mets are pitchers Tobi Stoner, Jason Vargas, Eddie Kunz, and Bobby Parnell, and Shawn bowman (infielder but primarily 3b), Daniel Murphy who will usually be playing 2b, and the solid hitting catcher Josh Thole.
Both Murphy and Bowman are in the opening day lineup and will be playing second and thirdbase while batting second and seventh in the lineup.
Mets Prospects will provide more information like bios of the players representing the Mets in the next couple of days.
Posted by Kyle at 10:13 PM
October 05, 2008
October 01, 2008
While the rest of the writers on this site got to experience the last days of Shea actually inside the stadium, I was forced to watch the agonizing conclusion inside a crappy sports bar in Pocatello, Idaho. Because it was on Sunday, and because I was in Idaho, there was no one in a 2400 mile radius that actually cared about a Mets game except for me. So I sat in a distant corner watching a crappy TV at 12 Mountain Time with a beer. Of course I had several ravenous Broncos fans around me who were already pissed that I had taken one of there TV’s. They weren’t nearly as bad as the drunken Vikings fan who thought every one in the whole bar needed to hear his less than informative ravings about how awful the ref’s were. At least I was watching the game though. My friend Steve tagged along and was nice enough to have his laptop so we could keep track of the Brewer’s score as well. It was a less than inspiring end to the season but at least the last game had some significance. I’ve sat through to many Mets season’s that ended around the all star break.
It got me to thinking about how long the off-season was going to be. I feel like we just got through the last one and we now have to suffer through more speculation and rumor. I will admit though, that the day’s after the last game I looked through everything Mets on the internet to read through multiple articles and comments sections just so I could hang on a little bit longer to my team. I’m not ready to let go yet. You don’t put that much time and heart into a season as a fan and then just let it go. At least I can't. So, to hang on for a little bit longer I want to offer my own perspective of what we should do this offseason. To do this I would like to revisit what I said we needed going into this season. I apologize ahead of time.
What I was wrong about: (see pictures below to see how much I needed to drink to make such a statement):
1.) I was in favor of Brian Schneider for what I said was, “His amazing defensive skills”
2.) I wanted Moises Alou back. Now, I did say he would miss some time but his bat was very valuable.
3.) I wanted us to sign Carlos Silva as a free agent. Hey, that’s why I’m not a general manager.
4.) I thought Pedro could be our #1 starter if we didn’t get a big name.
5.) “Aaron Heilman has proven to be reliable and durable.” That’s a direct quote and I should no longer be allowed to write on this site.
6.) I wanted to bring back Luis Castillo to sure up second base. I really shouldn’t be allowed to say anything Mets related with a thought process that obviously resembles a drunken squirrel.
What I was right about:
So without further ado, here’s what we should do this season. I apologize ahead of time.
1.) Keep our core. I can’t believe I even have to bring this up. Are there actually people out there who want us to trade D. Wright and Reyes? Apparently so and they should be forced to root for the Nationals. David Wright stays at third, Reyes stays at short. Please don’t make any comments to the contrary because I won’t be able to handle it.
2.) Keep Delgado and Ryan Church. I’ll admit I was one of the people wondering if maybe Delgado should ride the pine the second half. You all did, don’t act like you didn’t. He obviously found his stroke and corrected a major flaw in his swing. He is still getting older but I would roll the dice on him for next season. I don’t think he’ll be on fire like he was the second half but he will put up solid first base numbers. I still like Church a lot. He was our MVP for a little while and I wonder what his season would have been like had his brain not tried to take on Yunel Escobar's knee. One point for knee. I like his defense and he should be our right fielder next year.
3.) Dump the old guys. Sorry Moises Alou, Orlando Hernandez, Pedro Martinez. I think everyone can agree that we can't keep trotting out guys with major injury histories. These guys are almost guaranteed to get hurt again. I really love Alou’s bat and Pedro’s energy and leadership but the experiment is over.
4.) Dump Castillo. I was so far off with this guy. I’m interested in the Daniel Murphy experiment at second base in winter league. Orlando Hudson at second would be a dream come true. Either way Castillo can not be there opening day.
5.) Young left fielder with energy. I saw speculation on Mets Blog that Eric Byrnes could possibly be moved with the Mets being a possible option. Yes, Please. I would love to see Byrnes roaming around Citi Field next year. The guy leads by example and would add some much needed energy to the lineup.
6.) Improve Bullpen. You think?!
7.) Another Starter. We need another solid starter to follow Santana, Pelfrey, and Maine. I fear Perez may be done in Flushing. I still like the guy but I agree with a lot of people that he’s not worth what Boras is going to ask. I’ve heard Derek Lowe’s name getting thrown around. He has a career ERA under 4 and has postseason experience. I like it. I would stay away from Ben Sheets. Tons of talent but another injury concern. We have had enough of that. I’m sure we’ll learn a lot more about who is up for grabs in the trade market after the world series is over. It will be interesting to see if Omar can shake out a trade or two.
Posted by Daren at 8:58 PM
By Aaron Schuldiner
For me, no word could better describe the feeling at Shea Stadium Sunday evening, as the Beatles’ In My Life played over the loudspeakers following the toughest of losses. I’ve watched the Mets at Shea Stadium for twenty years. It would be no exaggeration to say that it was there, at Shea, that I learned the game of baseball.
Florida had just bounced the Mets from playoff contention on the final day of the season, for the second straight year nonetheless, and about 40,000 Mets fans lingered to pay tribute to a building so many of us grew up in. The moment crept up all too quickly, as a win would have guaranteed at least one more game at Shea. All day, I refused to prepare myself for the possibility that it could all end so abruptly. I readied myself for a one-game playoff with Milwaukee at worst, and a divisional playoff series at best. I just couldn’t bring myself to acknowledge the fact that Sunday afternoon’s game could be the last before Shea closed her doors for good.
From the beginning, the day had all the makings of a celebration. Before the game, a packed house raucously chanted, “Let’s go Mets!” with the tarp still on the infield as the rain fell from overhead. When the grounds crew removed the tarp, they were greeted with such an ovation, you would have thought they were the ones in a playoff race. Marc Anthony belted out the National Anthem and Glenn Close sang God Bless America during Shea’s final seventh inning stretch, as New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg looked on with the crowd. Throughout the afternoon, video tributes to Gil Hodges, Casey Stengel, Bob Murphy and other ghosts of Shea past, played on the jumbotron. Great moments in Mets history were commemorated, like Robin Ventura’s grand slam single and Mike Piazza’s homerun in the first game after 9/11, helping to ever-so-slightly calm the nerves of the crowd between innings, if only for one moment at a time. There was a postgame celebration planned with Willie Mays, Yogi Berra, and countless other historical figures on hand to say their final goodbyes on the field. Indeed, there were all the makings of a celebration, except for one: The 2008 Mets surviving the day.
Before the game, when they announced that the first pitch had been delayed until 2:05, I told my father, “This is perfect. This means we might have a final score from Milwaukee before our game is done. We might get to watch the Mets celebrate a playoff berth on the field.” Then the guy sitting across the aisle chimed in, “Yeah, or we might see ‘em blow it altogether.” Thank you, black angel of death.
Once again, the Mets failed to deliver big hits when they needed them most, and appropriately, their beleaguered bullpen absorbed the season’s fatal blow. And 363 days after the Marlins ended the Mets’ 2007 campaign, history repeated itself at Shea as Florida once again sent the Mets packing.
The game was scoreless until the top half of the sixth inning, when Florida finally broke through, manufacturing two runs off Oliver Perez and Joe Smith. Then, in the bottom of the sixth, with a sense of impending doom starting to creep into the ballpark, Carlos Beltran smashed a game-tying two-run homerun to left. The homerun, Beltran’s 27th of the year, sent the crowd into a frenzy, but the excitement was short lived.
Leading off the top of the eighth inning, Wes Helms homered off Scott Schoeneweis to give the Marlins a lead they would never relinquish. Schoeneweis, who broke down in tears after the game, faced only the one batter and was booed mercilessly when he walked off the field. Luis Ayala relieved Schoeneweis and was promptly taken deep by Dan Uggla, as the Marlins jumped ahead, 4-2. An eerie calm fell over the crowd, as if they had heard this story before, and knew all too well how it ended.
The Mets mounted a rally in their half of the eighth, putting two men on with two outs, but it ended on the warning track along with Carlos Delgado’s inning-ending fly out. In the ninth, Damion Easley worked a two-out walk before Ryan Church flied out to end the game, and with it the Mets’ season.
The 4-2 Marlins win was even more disheartening than 2007’s finale, an 8-1 loss in which Mets starter Tom Glavine gave up seven runs before the Mets even came to bat. At least the 2007 Mets were kind enough to put the fans out of their misery quickly. Real humanitarians, that bunch.
Despite the loss, the Mets could have lived to host a one-game playoff if the Cubs had won in Milwaukee, but the Brewers seized their opportunity to bury the Mets. More than 50,000 scoreboard watchers at Shea roared early on when the Cubs took a 1-0 lead, then gasped when the Brewers tied the game 1-1, and finally let out a collective groan when Milwaukee took a late 3-1 lead. That groan was echoed moments later, with an even more distressful tone, when the score went final.
Wasted in the Mets’ loss was some amazing glovework by Endy Chavez in left field. In the seventh inning, after being inserted by manager Jerry Manuel for defensive purposes, he electrified the crowd with two outstanding plays that combined to keep at least one run off the scoreboard. First, Chavez made a nifty play holding the speedy Cameron Maybin to a single on a ball hit deep into the left field corner. He then ended the inning with a spectacular leaping catch while sprinting back towards the wall, robbing Jorge Cantu of an extra-base hit. It was made clear on Sunday that Endy Chavez is as much of a fan favorite as anyone on the current roster. The noise was defeaning following his two fine defensive plays, and again when his historic catch from the 2006 NLCS was replayed on the jumbotron.
Sunday’s loss had a feel that was unlike the ends of the previous two seasons. In ‘06, when the Mets came painfully close to their first World Series since 2000, there was disappointment, but also optimism for what was to come. In 2007, Flushing looked on in anger as a once-promising season culminated in the worst September collapse in baseball history. Sunday was different. There was an unfamiliar feeling of finality to the moment. Next year, even if the Mets make all the right plays, from the front office to the field of play, the place that they’ve called home for 45 years won’t be around to see it happen.
So, as bitter as they were about the Mets being absent from the postseason, approximately 40,000 fans stayed behind to take part in the ceremony to honor Shea Stadium. One by one, Mets radio voice Howie Rose introduced the star-studded lineup, as they emerged from the bullpens onto the field. Berra. Staub. Darling. Ventura. They stood in the infield waving as the crowd roared, a living timeline from the franchise’s infancy to the present day. Members of the 1986 World Champion Mets got some of the loudest ovations, with none warmer than the reception Dwight Gooden received. Gooden’s struggles off the field have been well documented, but the crowd screamed long and loud for him, as if to say, “We appreciate what you did on this field, and we’re behind you, Doc.”
George Foster was showered with boos, though it didn’t seem to surprise him. Upon his 1982 arrival in New York, Foster, the only player from 1966 to 1989 to hit 50 homeruns in a season, proclaimed that nearby LaGuardia Airport would need to adjust its flight patterns because of the bombs he’d be hitting at Shea. He never produced the way the Mets had hoped, and left the team on awful terms. On this day, Foster sort of grinned at the boos as if he understood that, in New York, you get booed when your words exceed your results, a lesson certainly not lost on this year’s team.
After everyone had been introduced, they lined up and strode single file towards home, each man touching the plate one last time. Bud Harrelson, shortstop for the 1969 World Champions, jumped on home plate emphatically. All that was left was one last pitch on the Shea Stadium diamond, from a Hall-of-Famer to a future Hall-of-Famer. Tom Seaver walked to the mound as Mike Piazza took his spot behind the plate and crouched down one final time. At one point, Piazza crept up a few feet to accommodate Seaver, who is obviously no longer in 1969 form, but Seaver gestured him back, and back he went. Seaver’s pitch bounced in the dirt, but Piazza came up with it on a hop, saving the moment like he saved the Mets so many times from the batter’s box just to his left. The two embraced on the mound, and walked painstakingly towards center field, waving in acknowledgment to the crowd as if they were the Pope and the President.
When they walked through the center field door, and the blue panels closed behind them, it finally hit me. All but four sets of the lights that line the Shea Stadium roof had gone dark, and John Lennon’s voice echoed over the loudspeakers. Through the smoke trail that lingered from the blue and orange fireworks display, it hit me like a ton of bricks: The ride was over.
Soon my natural pessimism, a prerequisite to being a Mets fan these days, will return. I will ask why GM Omar Minaya neglected to add to a bullpen that was doomed to fail before the season even began. I will ask what in God’s name the Mets will do with Luis Castillo for the three years that remain on his unthinkable contract. Soon enough, I will ask why some of the core players, for all their gaudy numbers, seem to play smaller as the games get bigger. Soon, but not yet.
What I’m about to say may bother some Met fans. I’m sure my sentiments are not shared by the entire lot of us, but in that moment, I couldn’t be angry about this year’s team. I honestly just couldn’t. I would have felt guilty. It would have been selfish to dwell on the 2008 Mets’ failures when this wonderful place, the place where I fell in love with baseball, was in its final hour. For Pratt hitting it over the fence, for Agbayani winning it in the 13th, for my twenty years worth of poignant memories, Shea Stadium had earned my full attention, if only for an hour or two. For all those unbelievable moments, I owed her that much. And as I stood there, half numb to the fact that the season was over, and fighting my hardest not to get choked up over the fact I’d never see that field again, I couldn’t help but smile at the memories. This was home.
At the end of it all, everyone recognized that the moment was about much more than the end of a season. It was about the end of an era. Thank you, Shea Stadium, for all the memories.
Posted by Daren at 1:00 PM
September 29, 2008
By David Rubin
Well, this is going to be even harder than I thought, in light of yesterday's elimination. Going back in time to describe my last visit to Shea some 16 days ago was, I thought, going to be a great way to say good-bye to the regular season, and give me enough to write about while waiting for the first play-off game on Wednesday vs. the Cubs...and now, it's a real coda to the season, to this team and to this website. I'll explain each in greater detail.
My friends Mark and Danny joined us for the double-header, and we got there 2 hours before game time, enough time to browse the depleted racks of the team store and grab the first of 3 ballpark meals of the day. And by depleted, I mean "filled with Castillo and Perez and Wagner and Wright/Reyes stuff" with no Santana or Pedro or Delgado or Pelfrey or even Church stuff to be found. Thankfully, we had hit a Modell's prior to the game, so we restocked our t-shirt collections sufficiently enough to call the trip a success (on that front, at least.)
The memories would remain in our head, but IF we could start the 2009 season fresh, in state-of-the-art facilities, in a first class ballpark, for once, perhaps we could indeed hope for a better tomorrow! And yet, walking out of Shea nearly 9 hours after our arrival, we couldn't help but shed tears, as we realized what being a Mets' fan really is about - dealing with the myriad disappointments, with just enough incredible seasons sprinkled throughout our history to give us hopes each and every season...and that's what it's about, folks- HOPE!!! Otherwise, why buy the merchandise? The tickets? Give up doing other things when the game is on? Buying the bigger screen tv? Sweating and hurting with every loss? It's all because of that deadly, 4-letter word that brightens the shores of Mets' fans everywhere, come February...HOPE!! You feel it in spring training, when all teams are tied for first, where the next Dwight Gooden might show himself, or where the "next great free agent signing" debuts to thunderous applause, making it that much harder for him when the first regular-season boos are heard when he strikes out three times in a game or gets taken deep for a homer to lose a game.
Posted by David Rubin at 11:49 AM
September 28, 2008
Now even though the game wasn't played due to the rain, it was still a very surrreal experience, as we dined in what Jon dubbed "Che' Shea" and as we took a long look around the stands; I remembered where I sat in a game in '69 with my dad and grandfather (my first game); in '73 (my first play-off game); in '77 (when the crowd numbered around 2,000 and mezzanine seats became box seats with a $2 tip to an usher); in '83 (the day it was posted on the scoreboard that Mex was traded to the Mets); in '86 (play-off and World Series games); in '94 (my last season living in NYC); and, finally, in '04 (the last time my dad and I would catch a game together at Shea). As Jonathan and I polished off some of Nathan's famous hot dogs and fries, the rain continued to fall and we knew that there was no way a game would be played tonight. However, we were left with a very content feeling, as we were able to say "good-bye" to the stadium itself, where few fans were left, allowing us to take our time departing, drinking in concession stands and restrooms, souvenir stands and stairways. In fact, although I've always had a fear of heights, and in spite of the couple of recent tragedies on the escalators, for some reason I always felt secure walking down the ramps of Shea, a place where, even in defeat and in spite of what some would call the coldness of the concrete and steel, I always felt warm and protected.
Yes, Shea is delapidated and in desperate need of being blown up, as like an old car, it would cost far more to rehab the stadium then it would be to replace it, and no matter how many coats of paint it might receive, Shea can never compete with its younger brethren. So in goes a new, state-of-the-art stadium with a tribute to Jackie Robinson and Fred Wilpon's youth, while the tribute to my youth will be long-gone, along with Lum's Chinese Restaurant in Flushing, Rheingold Beer and Jerry Grote crouching behind the plate. That doesn't mean that Citi Field won't be impressive, as it already looks better then Shea ever did; it just means that it will be many, many years before I'll have any major memories of Citi Field, and it will never be the place where baseball first came alive for me, or for you. Those memories, thankfully, won't die, and will live on in our memories, in pictures, and in the stories that we tell to our children and their children...and the next generation will grow up in a world where the Mets will have always played in an upscale stadium (and, for that matter, will Citi Field be a ballpark or a stadium? I would guess they'll use the "ballpark" designation).
So good-bye, smell of urine from the men's room troughs; good-bye, roasted nuts and pretzel smells; so long peeling paint and worn concrete; farewell, my lifelong friend...you've remained faithful when others haven't, staying in the same place all these years, welcoming me with the open arms, strong winds and sounds of airplanes, the same way you did all those years ago...I just hope, at 44, that I'll be around another 44 years to see what Citi Field will be replaced with...
Back tomorrow with part 2, including our summation of this season, which hopefully won't be over...
Posted by David Rubin at 12:47 PM
September 09, 2008
In his most recent post at ESPN.com, Peter Gammons lists 5 reasons why the 2008 Mets are different then the 7/17 2007 Mets.
Posted by David Rubin at 11:28 AM
“Delgado is a rally killer 90% of the time”
“The offense has one glaring hole (Delgado)”
“Delgado is just finished. Time to just bench or release. Heck trade him and pay his salary. I don’t care!”
“jeez, I can’t take Delgado anymore. Any chance we bring up Ike Davis like right now? LOL.”
“There has to be somebody somewhere better than Delgado. Is it worth carrying a $15M+ player to hold down a whole team?”
“I really don’t think we are going to score on this guy, especially with the likes of Delgado in the lineup.”
“DELGADO IS DONE.”
After Carlos Delgado’s 2 HR, 4 RBI performance in Sunday night’s win over the Phillies, I thought it might be interesting to revisit just how far Delgado had fallen out of favor among fans before his resurgence. The above quotes were posted in June to the message boards on the Mets’ official website. There were plenty of other comments that I chose not to list, some because they were borderline obscene, some because they were downright cruel, but most because there’s just not enough space on this page for all the venom that was spewed in Delgado’s direction. And to be fair, I agreed with the general consensus that Delgado was in fact “DONE.”
To see how far Delgado’s stock has risen, you first need to understand how far his star had fallen. This is a man who, not that long ago, was booed mercilessly by the Shea faithful from the moment he entered the on-deck circle until he returned to the dugout. Without actually looking back to see the vultures circling, it’s hard to appreciate his resurrection. It’s a remarkable story on the 2008 MLB landscape, and it’s relevant because I believe, with as much objectivity as I am capable of bringing to any Mets-related discussion, that Carlos Delgado is legitimately deserving of MVP consideration.
At the end of June, the Mets found themselves in 3rd place in the NL East, with more losses than wins. Carlos Delgado was batting a paltry .228, with 14 homeruns and 45 RBI, and was on the verge of being run out of town. The stretch that has followed has been nothing short of remarkable, and could become legendary if Delgado keeps hitting and the Mets keep winning. Since July 1, the Mets are 39-21, having taken over first place in the division, and Delgado is batting .305 with a plethora of clutch hits for a team that is constantly battling the stigma of being unable to hit in big spots. His 55 RBI over that span lead the National League, and his 19 HR are second only to Ryan Howard’s 20.
It’s unbelievable to think that Delgado is one October run away from securing a place in Mets immortality, but the idea is not farfetched. Yes, the Mets would have to make a run deep into October, and yes, they will have to fight off a feisty Phillies team just to make the playoffs. Nevertheless, if this team makes noise in the postseason, history will look back on them as the team that Delgado resurrected. Sure, the managerial change was a huge story. Sure, they have gotten big contributions from unlikely sources such as Fernando Tatis and Daniel Murphy. And sure, Johan Santana has pitched like the ace everyone billed him to be, and Mike Pelfrey has exceeded all expectations. But even with all those factors accounted for, I shudder to think where this team would be if Delgado never found his swing.
David Wright’s overall numbers have earned him MVP consideration, but those who see the Mets night in and night out know where Wright’s credentials fall short. The truth of the matter is that Wright has made a habit of leaving runners on base this season, especially with the money on the line. With two outs and runners in scoring position, Wright is batting just .224 with a slugging percentage of .403. In the same situation, Delgado is batting .266 and slugging a gaudy .594. No Met has gotten more big hits in 2008 than Carlos Delgado.
It begs the question, why Wright and not Delgado? The simple fact is that the MVP balloting is inherently flawed, in that you’re asking writers to vote on players that they don’t see often enough to judge. If you don’t watch the Mets every day, you haven’t seen how Delgado has been the life force of this team, slamming big hit after big hit, while Wright has often struggled in the clutch. I should point out that my purpose is not to condemn Wright. Overall, Wright is having a nice year, a good year, but not an MVP year. I should also point out that my purpose isn’t to condemn the MVP voters. It would be unfair, and unrealistic, to expect the beat writer in Anytown, USA, to follow the highs and lows of every player in baseball with a magnifying glass. My biggest issue with the voters is that there is a ‘popularity contest’ element to the award, an atmosphere in which a player’s status with the Baseball Tonight crew sometimes trumps the totality of his performance. Case in point, I wonder how many votes Carlos would already have locked up if his last name was Beltran rather than Delgado.
What is undeniable is that the Mets would not be where they are without Delgado. In September of what has been a tight divisional race, the Mets would undoubtedly be on the outside looking in right now if not for Delgado’s heroics. If a player’s ‘value’ can be measured by drawing a parallel between his success and the success of his team, then who is more valuable than Delgado? If you’re having as much trouble as I did answering that question, I think our collective silence speaks volumes as to Delgado’s merits.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I just found a thread from June explaining why the Mets should make a move to replace Delgado with Scott Hatteberg. Imagine that. On second thought, don’t.
Editor's Note - From David: It seems like Delgado has had 2 seasons in one, just like the Mets (w/Willie vs. w/Jerry). I know that the "comeback of the year" award usually refers to a season-over-season award, but if ever anyone deserved 2 awards (MVP & Comeback) it would be Delgado! Jose has had another great season, and Wright has been consistent but not spectacular; Delgado has been timely and the shot in the arm that the team needed. And WHO would have thuoght we'd be having this conversation back in June?? That's why they play the whole season, boys and girls...because this is further proof that anything can happen in baseball!!
Posted by David Rubin at 11:09 AM
September 01, 2008
Posted by David Rubin at 6:08 PM
Let's hope the additions to the bullpen add some stability over the next 4 weeks, as the last 25 games will not only determine whether we make it into the play-offs, but will see the end to our beloved stadium (and namesake) - we're sure hoping the fireworks will come from our bats, as we give Shea a World Series exit!!! Enjoy the game today, and as always, Let's Go Mets!!!!
Posted by David Rubin at 2:07 PM
August 30, 2008
So, here I am, heading out of a restaurant with my 2 daughters and the wife, relying on scores from my cellphones' version of an internet browser, going into the top of the 9th inning, down 2-1. I figured that was it, being that the Mets hitters' treat the 6th - 9th innings like a cheap hooker in the middle of the Bellagio. As I got into the car, before I could turn on my XM, Jon called me to let me know about Beltran's Grand Salami (and who said he wasn't "clutch") and our new 5-2 lead!! Sounded great, no? But, once again, Pen-da-moan-ium ran wild, as my new "least favorite" reliever, lose-n-I-yell-atcha (or Luis Ayala to those not following that closely) nearly blew it, letting 2 runs score before getting out of the inning with a ground-out, the Mets winning 5-4. It was much too close for comfort, and left me wanting to go back to the restaurant and pound down a few more shots of hard liquor! That's what this bullpen will do to you, and unless we can get some real help from the likes of Figueroa, Parnell, Niese, Muniz and Kunz, it's going to be that much harder to hold the hated Phils' at bay. In fact, on the radio today in Florida, a Phils' fan asked Peter Gammons about the Mets-Phils battle, and Gammons responded that they both have the same problem- the 6th-9th innings. Let's hope that somehow changes soon...and as Aaron said earlier today in his post, some revenge for last September would be real sweet about now versus those fish (and listening on the XM feed, you could hear fans cheering "let's go Mets" during the broadcast- no surprise there, as why should it be any different then when we attended the first two games of the season?)
Posted by David Rubin at 1:08 AM
August 29, 2008
By Aaron Schuldiner
After dropping two out of three in Atlanta this week, the third place Florida Marlins limp in to New York for a weekend series with the NL East leading Mets. Florida has lost nine of their last fourteen games, and is now six games back in the NL East, after being only a game and a half out at the all-star break.
After these same Marlins eliminated New York from postseason contention on the final day of the ’07 regular season, you can bet the Mets would love to deliver the knockout blow to Florida here in 2008. Although the Marlins are still alive in the divisional race, at least mathematically, and they do still have six games with New York and six games with Philadelphia, a losing series in New York this weekend would signify a full tailspin from which the Marlins would be unlikely to recover.
The Mets will send Oliver Perez (9-7) to the hill tonight to oppose Florida’s towering young righty, Chris Volstad (4-3). Perez last faced the Marlins on August 8th, when he tossed seven shutout innings en route to his eighth win of the season. Saturday night, the Mets send Mike Pelfrey (13-8) to oppose Ricky Nolasco (13-7). Pedro Martinez (4-3) is slated to face Florida lefthander Scott Olsen (6-8) in Sunday afternoon’s series finale.
Philadelphia blew a golden opportunity to pull into a first-place tie with the Mets Thursday night, thanks to the late heroics of Aramis Ramirez. With the Cubs trailing the Phillies 4-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Ramirez drilled a grand slam off Philadelphia righthander Chad Durbin to propel the Cubs to a 6-4 victory.
- Keep an eye on Florida second baseman Dan Uggla in this series. After a sensational first half and an All-Star Game appearance that Uggla would like to forget, Uggla went in the tank, hitting just .217 over the last four weeks. Over the same period, he has just two homeruns and six RBI, and somehow managed to strike out a whopping 24 times. However, Uggla showed signs of life in the Braves series, batting .400 (4-10) with two doubles, a homerun, and two runs batted in. The Marlins are a completely different team when Uggla is swinging the bat well, and it appears he may have one more hot streak left in him this year.
- Earlier this week, the New York Daily News reported that manager Jerry Manuel has enough faith in Ryan Church’s health to have returned him to everyday status in right field. Since returning last week from concussion-related issues, Church is batting .300 (6-20) with two multi-hit games.
- During the SNY broadcast of New York’s 6-3 comeback win over the Phillies Wednesday night, the Mets broadcast team mentioned Carlos Delgado’s name during an NL MVP conversation, and they were only half kidding. In what has probably been the greatest resurrection I’ve ever witnessed in Flushing, Delgado has gone from a guy who most fans wanted to be cut, to a guy who has a strong chance to be New York’s starting first baseman again in 2009. Delgado’s contract has an option worth $12 million in ’09, but his buyout is $4 million, which essentially translates to an eight million dollar salary next year is the Mets choose to retain him. If GM Omar Minaya thinks Delgado can come close to matching his 2008 numbers, chances are the Mets will open Citi Field next Spring with him as their first baseman.
- According to an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman on WFAN radio in New York, prized pitching prospect Jon Niese will make his Mets debut this Tuesday night in Milwaukee.
Posted by Daren at 5:08 PM
Wilmer's No Flintstone
So, when September 1st comes along (in, oh, 3 days), get used to seeing young talent like Parnell and Niese, just like you've already gotten used to the names Evans and Murphy- it's NOT the last time you'll be hearing their names!!!
Posted by David Rubin at 1:12 PM
August 28, 2008
Okay- 2 days of agony and ecstasy, and we're in exactly the same place we were on Monday- 1/2 game ahead of the Phillies in the NL East race, with one more win (the Phils have played one less game) on the ledge looking out into the dreaded month of September.
Posted by David Rubin at 1:58 PM