Meet the Mets
Greet the Mets
Head for the park and
BEAT the Mets
It’s not exactly how the tune goes. It’s merely how I sing it as I make my seasonal sojourn on the No. 7 train out to Flushing, Queens, where Citi Field resides. There’s a horse racing announcer whose name for the life of me I cannot recall. He has a wonderful signature call as the horses enter the home stretch:
AND NOW THEY COME TO ME! It precisely sums up how I feel each year when the Reds arrive in New York.
The penultimate subway stop at Willets Point reveals a long, dilapidated row of sad junkyards that run alongside the ballpark, where many a Dominican worker sits amongst the grease and worn out spare auto parts. It’s a veritable moonscape of graffiti, metal and misfit tires. It is also a fitting metaphor for the Mets in the post-Madoff era.
For just inside the fresh brick walls of Citi Field are many a spare and unwanted part.
GM Sandy Alderson has had his work cut out for him, rebuilding a franchise on a strict budget necessitated by the millions lost by Fred Wilpon and family at the hands of Bernie Madoff. For starters, consider the outfield. The Metropolitans came to Spring Training with a chorus line of forgettable names vying for the privilege of idling their summer away on the manicured Citi Field grass: titans of the game with names like Nieuwenhuis & Cowgill. Valdespin & Lagares. Baxter. Centerfielder Collin Cowgill, drafted out of the University of Kentucky, hit a grand slam on Opening Day and then seemingly didn’t get another hit until he was finally banished to AAA Las Vegas, along with once highly regarded prospect Kirk Nieuwenhuis, whose star has dimmed with Tebow-like speed. Juan Lagares was brought up to the big club on the strength of some early power in Vegas. The Mets are so desperate for production in CF that they have taken a flyer on Rick Ankiel. Former Cub Marlon Byrd has stuck with the team in RF, splitting time with Mike Baxter and Jordany Valespin—a ubiquitous spare part who plays all over the diamond.
The infield is sketchy as well, and is anchored by the Mets lone-remaining everyday star, third baseman David Wright. Daniel Murphy has always been a hitter in search of a position to play. The Mets have long loved his bat, but couldn’t find a suitable location for him to play in the field. But, as scouts say, “the bat plays,” so Murphy these days is a second baseman. Catcher John Buck has been a huge surprise for the Madoffs. An ancillary part of the deal that sent R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays, little was expected of the 32 year-old Buck, who had been an All Star in 2010, but was coming off two very mediocre seasons with the Marlins, before being dealt to Toronto in the Jose Reyes trade.
The player of whom much has been expected is first baseman Ike Davis. This is the second year Davis has gotten off to a horrendous start (.156/.238/.259) and lately it has begun to affect his play in the field. Word on the cold, unforgiving Manhattan street says AAA Las Vegas is in Davis’s near future. In the meantime, manager Terry Collins has doubled down by recently putting Davis back into the cleanup spot in an effort to, as Collins put it, “get Ike started.”
Where have we heard that before? In fact, during Saturday’s game against the Cubs, Keith Hernandez was explaining why another player couldn’t be slottted into the rocking chair between leadoff and the third spot in the order: “he would clog up the basepaths,” declared the former Mets first baseman turned TV color guy.
Yeah, he really said that.
It’s a vivid reminder that more than a few people in Baseball serve the very same master that Dusty Baker bows down to. Unlike Baker however, Terry Collins is likely to make substantial changes in his lineup as he attempts to find some magic that will turn the fortunes of a team currently 10th in Runs and 14th in AVG in the NL. On any given day, Ruben Tejada is as likely to be batting 8th as he is leadoff–nevertheless, here is as likely a lineup as any:
*thru 6 games as a Met
Starting pitching was dealt a blow late last season when following reconstructive shoulder surgery, Johan Santana was allowed to go out and throw 134 pitches en route to the Mets’ first no-hitter in franchise history. As important as the feat was to the organization, it ended up effectively ending the great pitcher’s career and has become a cautionary tale for those GMs thinking of handing out long contracts to starting pitchers, particularly those well into their careers.
However, there is one compelling reason to head out to Citi Field once every five days: Matt Harvey. Harvey is the best thing Flushing has seen since the days of Dwight Gooden. He has been virtually unhittable this spring, dealing a 1.55 ERA while giving Mets fans a reason to believe in the future.
|Cueto, J, RHP||1||0||2.60||17.1||6||18||1.04|
|Marcum, S, RHP||0||4||6.75||21.1||7||13||1.69|
|Leake, M, RHP||3||2||3.72||48.1||13||34||1.49|
|Niese, J, LHP||3||4||5.40||48.1||24||24||1.66|
|Latos, M, RHP||4||0||2.91||58.2||15||51||1.18|
|Harvey, M, RHP||5||0||1.55||63.2||14||68||0.72|
The Mets have been prepping Bobby Parnell to be their new closer, and when Frank Francisco sustained a setback in his rehab from right elbow surgery, Parnell officially inherited the job and has looked good. Parnell aside, the worst part of this very bad baseball team may very well be the bullpen. The Met relievers (Brandon Lyon, Josh Edgin, Scott Rice, Robert Carson, LaTroy Hawkins, Greg Burke) sport a league-worst 4.77 ERA. Get a Met starter out of the game early and you have an excellent opportunity to not only MEET the Mets, but, yes, BEAT the Mets, as well.
|Parnell, B, RHP||4||0||0.93||19.1||3||18||0.67|
|Chapman, A, LHP||3||2||3.32||19.0||9||30||1.21|
Coming off yesterday’s shocking meltdown in Philly, the Reds can right the ship by taking the first two from an over matched New York club before having to deal with young Harvey in the Wednesday matinee. Hopefully, I’ll be singing the National Anthem along with Mr. Redlegs, as Mr. Met strikes a familiar forlorn pose.