Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Archive for June, 2009

The Hidden Value of Luis Castillo

Posted by JD on June 29, 2009

Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts spent a good deal of time today ripping Omar Minaya for giving Luis Castillo a four year contract back in 2008, and for good reason. I’m a Castillo fan and even I cringe at the thought that he’ll be around for two more years. But Joe and Evan didn’t mention a key factor. Even though Castillo had scored 37 runs in 50 games with an OBP of .371, it was his potential off-field contributions that necessitated his return.

It gets forgotten now, but Luis Castillo was an key factor in the Johan Santana acquisition. Santana publicly complained when Minnesota traded Castillo to the Mets, calling it a salary dump. But it apparently went further than that behind the scenes, as this article from Brian Lewis of the NY Post describes:

“I remember the day I got traded, remember Johan. He went to me in the locker room. We talked for 20 minutes. I explained everything. He told me everything, told me he wanted to play with the Mets the day I got traded…”

Now, is that worth a four year contract for $25 million? Of course not. But we should keep it in mind when we discuss the contract. Had the Mets waited for Orlando Hudson, they might have missed out on Johan Santana. For all its faults, the Castillo contract was a show of faith to Johan, a sign that this organization was going to go out of it’s way to make him comfortable. So, at least we’ve got that going for us…

Posted in Mets | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Argenis Reyes: Whatta Dome!

Posted by JD on June 27, 2009

I’m not kidding, it’s like an orange on a toothpick.

I'm not kidding, it's like an orange on a toothpick.

Various outlets have reported that the Mets will start Argenis Reyes at second tonight and bat him second in the lineup. I’ve always been an Argenis fan.  Irrational? Maybe. Unconditional? Definitely.

Some of it has to do with the size of the guy’s head. Look at it! I mean, that’s an old pic, but wait until you see that enormous dome on the HD JumboTron at Citi Field: it will stagger you with its enormity! “Look at the size of that boy’s heed. It’s a virtual planetoid! Has it’s own weather system!”

“Shhh, you’re going to give the boy a complex.” Maybe so, but that doesn’t mean I can stop gawking at that huge dome!

[Thanks to ESPN.com for the photo, and IMDB.com for the quotes from So I Married an Axe Murderer.]

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Mea Culpa: Gary Sheffield

Posted by JD on June 27, 2009

Allow this post to stand as my personal apology to Gary Sheffield. I made my feelings clear at the start of the season. While acknowledging his diminished production, I chose to focus more on his “intangibles”. I could not have been more wrong on either count.

Gary Sheffield has been a revelation. More than that, he’s been a pillar. He leads the team with (a paltry) nine home runs*. By all accounts, he’s been a remarkable teammate. He listens to Jerry Manuel, plays whenever and wherever asked, and hasn’t complained (in public) about it once. Right field at the Citi is a tricky place to play; Gary handles it as well as anyone I’ve seen. His play in the field inspires confidence because no matter how slowly he moves, he takes the most efficient route and makes the correct throw.

*Pozterisk: Allow me to clarify. “Paltry” refers to the fact that nine home runs lead a team that has played 72 games. Sheffield’s home runs have been anything but paltry. Last night’s blast broke up the shut-out, no-hitter, and perfect game simultaneously. He’s had several big home runs, some of which have been truly titanic.

In short, I could not have been more wrong about Gary Sheffield. I’m glad I was wrong, I’m so glad he’s on the team, and I don’t want to think about where the Mets would be without him.

Posted in Mets, Sheffield | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Security!

Posted by JD on June 27, 2009

Unfortunately, last night’s Mets game got out of hand early. Three infield errors in the second inning opened the door for the Yankees to score four runs, and the only real drama after that was whether or not C.C. Sabathia would throw a perfect game. After Gary Sheffield homered to break it up the Yankees rallied to break the game open, highlighted by home runs by Brent Gardner (aka, Scrappy White Guy) and Alex Rodriguez.

However, the action on the field was somewhat overshadowed by the action off it. Violent thunderstorms delayed the start of the game by an hour, which had the unintended effect of adding an hour of drinking time. Some fans took liberal advantage of it and it really started to show as the game turned into a rout. As the more responsible (and sober) fans headed for the exit, we were left with a combustible mix of drunk Yankee fans antagonizing drunk Mets fans.

Now, I don’t mean to exaggerate. There were still sober fans in the stands and most of the drunken ones were harmless. In fact, there were quite a few funny exchanges between the groups. In general, I’ve found that New York baseball fans as a group can handle their liquor (I like to think I’m one of them) and keep their cool.

But there are those who can’t. I didn’t actually see the altercation myself, but there was an all-points bulletin in the 8th inning last night. I had moved down to the standing room only area behind Section 109 when half a dozen security personnel suddenly came running from right field, moving at high speed towards the rotunda. Some slow-moving reinforcements came from the same direction a few minutes later. By my count, more than 15 security people were called in. Now, I didn’t see it and I don’t like speculating, but I think it’s safe to say that alcohol might have been involved.

I’ve been going to Subway Series games for years. Friday night games were a little edgy and there were always incidents, but it never got out of control. Last night was a bit of a perfect storm (no pun intended). Extra drinking time combined with a one-sided game added fuel to the fire. The ugly scene that unfolded near the rotunda was a product of that environment. I get it.

But what I don’t get is why today’s game starts at 7:10. Saturday games were always pleasant by comparison, with the vast majority of fans being well-behaved. Why mess with that? Why subject your more responsible fans, those with families and small children, to a booze-fueled environment when there’s no need?

This feels like yet another instance where the Mets’ management made a decision without thinking of the best interests of their fans. Why do they continue to insist on making it difficult to root for their team?

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Perspective: David Wright’s Power Outage

Posted by JD on June 20, 2009

Through last night’s game, David Wright has only hit four home runs in 285 plate appearances (PA). Assuming he stays healthy and finishes around 720 PA, this puts him on pace to finish with ten (10!) home runs. To put this in perspective, he hit 14 home runs in his rookie season in 283 PA. The term “Career Low” doesn’t do it justice!

I’m not qualified to diagnose the problem. The dimensions at Citi Field must have some impact and it does seem that he’s gripping the bat a little tighter at home. The Mets’ numerous injuries probably have caused him to press a bit, too. But his other numbers have been great: a league-leading batting average of .350, OPS of .945, and an OPS+ of 150. Better bloggers can probably pinpoint it, but I certainly can’t put my finger on the issue.

Using ESPN’s MLB Batting Stats (all totals and rankings are current as of 6/19/09), I decided to provided a little (near-useless) perspective. Wright’s current ranking?  Tied for 168th. Some of those tied with Wright include:

Carlos Delgado [173 fewer PA]
Ramon Castro [Remember him?]
Jody Gerut [He did hit the first ever homer at Citi Field]
B.J. Upton [Their both from Norfolk…coincendence? Yeah, probably.]
Alberto Callaspo [Whoa.]

Some of the luminaries ranked higher than Wright:

Kelly Johnson [ Grrr. 5 home runs.]
Garrett Atkins [5 home runs, but his average is .145 points lower.]
Ty Wiggington [I bet Ty loves that he has one more homer than Wright.]
Jimmy Rollins [Ditto for Jimmy, but he has two more homers than Wright.]
Derek Jeter [9 home runs? Ugh.]

Enough. You get the point. Wright’s power outage has him buried on the home run leader board. Nearing the halfway point, it’s going to take a serious streak for him to reach his career 162-game average of 28. Hopefully the notoriously-streaky Wright can at least pass some of the lesser lights that currently top him on the leader board.

Posted in David Wright, Mets | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

 
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