Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Archive for June, 2010

Get Out And Vote!

Posted by JD on June 28, 2010

Howard Megal’s campaign to be the next General Manager of the Mets gets a little more real today, and you can play a part in it. Amazin’ Avenue and New York Baseball Digest will be hosting votes for Megdal all week long, so head over and let your voice be heard.

 If you’re not familiar with Howard or his campaign, check out his website. Then get over to Amazin’ Avenue or NYBD and vote. This is going to be fun, and I can’t wait to see the results at the end of the week.

Posted in Megdal For GM, Mets | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Sunday Morning Musings

Posted by JD on June 27, 2010

A few thoughts before I head off to Citi Field for a rubber match with the Twins:

  • American Idle: I’m not sure what’s worse: the fact that Carl Pavano threw a complete game three-hit shutout, or that he almost had as many hits as the entire Mets lineup. Pick your poison, because both were fatal to the Mets yesterday.
  • Jeff Francoeur: One of those three hits was a bunt single from our OBP-challenged right fielder. He made an outstanding throw to nail Denard Span at third, but if Angel Pagan doesn’t take his spot in the lineup when Carlos Beltran returns, it will be a crime.
  • Dueling Mustaches: At some point during the game, SNY ran a side-by-side photo of Pavano and Keith Hernandez, comparing their mustaches. I saw it at the stadium so I couldn’t hear the commentary or take a screen-cap, but the awesomeness of it all was not lost in translation.
  • Johan Santana: I think it’s unfair to pin this loss on Santana alone (the lineup generated absolutely nothing), but it’s reasonable to wonder what he has left: he’s really struggled this season. He’s coming off of elbow surgery and dealing with troubling accusations of sexual assault, and he’s not getting any younger. The Mets will be paying him a lot of money over the next three or four years ($78 – $97.5 million, depending on whether his option is picked up), and it’s safe to say that they won’t receive proper value for that money. But what’s done is done, and they’ll have to make the most of it. We would do well to adjust our expectations for him: Santana will be up-and-down throughout the rest of the season, and the end results will be thoroughly mediocre. It’s unfortunate, but that’s where we are.

Posted in Angel Pagan, Carlos Beltran, Idle Thoughts, Jeff Francoeur, Johan Santana, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Your Favorite Valentine

Posted by JD on June 25, 2010

UPDATE: I spoke too soon: Bobby Valentine is no longer a candidate for the Marlins’ job (God, I hate linking to Jon Heyman). I guess that means Valentine is still a candidate to replace Jerry Manuel. That’s all fine and well, but doesn’t mitigate my original point: a non-zero percentage of Valentine’s success as Mets manager came from his familiarity with the AAA team, a luxury that he cannot replicate.

It looks like Bobby Valentine is going to become the next manager of the Florida Marlins. That’s going to disappoint a large segment of Mets fans: Valentine is a colorful character who has achieved success in the major leagues, and he’s also a tangible link to one of the more successful periods in recent Mets history. I understand why fans are upset that he’s going to Florida: I just don’t think it’s that big of a deal.

Valentine’s Mets teams succeeded because he made the most of what he had a Hall of Famer (Mike Piazza), several All-Stars (Al Leiter, Mike Hampton, Robin Ventura) and some pretty marginal bench players, whose performance Valentine maximized. They were overachievers, and that’s certainly a credit to Valentine, but I feel like a fairly important fact has gotten lost throughout the years: Valentine managed the AAA Norfolk Tides for 283 games over two years before taking over the Mets. His 1994 squad was little more than Jeromy Burnitz, Rico Brogna, and Butch Huskey, but the 1996 squad included Benny Agbayani, Alberto Castillo, Matt Franco, Alex Ochoa, Jay Payton, and (most importantly) Rick Reed, all of whom would go on to contribute to Valentine’s Mets teams.

Valentine managed that 1996 team to an 82-59 record, good for second in the International League West. He developed a relationship with those players, an appreciation of their strengths and weaknesses that he would later use to his advantage as manager of the Mets. It’s not the sole reason why he succeeded, but it was an inherent advantage that he had that can’t recreate with the Mets (or the Marlins, for that matter).

Valentine is a smart, resourceful man. I don’t doubt that he’ll have some success with the Marlins. But he’ll be stuck with the same limitations that faced Joe Girardi and Fredi Gonzalez before him: an owner (Jeffrey Loria) whose priorities lay in profits, not necessarily performance. Valentine will again be forced to maximize limited roll players, only this time without the benefit of experience with them. It’s not an insurmountable task, but it’s a handicap nonetheless.

It would have been the same story if he took over the Mets: he doesn’t know any of these players and would have to spend valuable time learning how to use them. Combine that with an eight year absence from American professional baseball, and it might actually be a bit of a hindrance.

I would have enjoyed seeing Bobby Valentine manage the Mets again, but I don’t think it would be the panacea some of you were expecting.

Posted in Mets, Mike Piazza | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Another Domino Falls

Posted by JD on June 21, 2010

As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, Jenrry Mejia was finally sent down to Binghamton to resume his rightful career path as a starting pitcher (Bobby Parnell will take his place in the bullpen on Tuesday). He logged 26 2/3 innings in the Mets bullpen over 29 games, including a scoreless inning (with one strikeout) in yesterday’s game against the Yankees. Even though he had a 122 ERA+ and accrued 0.3 WAR during his time in Flushing this is undoubtedly the right move: starting pitchers are more valuable than relievers, and the Mets should take the time to figure out whether Mejia has what it takes to be a successful major league starter. Kudos to Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel for finally doing the right thing.

The roster continues to evolve, and in a good way. Ne’er-do-wells Sean Green, Mike Jacobs, Frank Catalanotto, GMJ, John Maine, and Oliver Perez have either been consigned to the Disabled List or released and the Mejia demotion fits in this trend. He wasn’t exactly a liability in the bullpen but the franchise is far better served by allowing him to hone his craft as a starter in the minors instead of eating low-leverage innings in the Mets’ bullpen. We still have to deal with Alex Cora’s steady march toward a vesting option and the DL assignments are a ticking time-bomb (acutely highlighted by Maine’s recent rehab starts), but lately Minaya has been making all the right moves.

I’ll be honest: I feel weird writing that. However, the standings have forced my hand: it’s June 21 and the Mets are 2.5 games out of first place with 95 games to go, and I suppose it proves the cliche that “late” really is better than “never”. We’ll never know how much better off they would be if Ike Davis, R.A. Dickey, Chris Carter or Jesus Feliciano had been on the roster from day one (I suspect they’d have at least one more win, if not two or three), but in the immortal words of former Jets coach Herm Edwards, we can build on this.

What’s done is done. Cora aside, the Mets’ roster is about as about as optimized as it can be at this point. The next step is acquiring a starting pitcher at a reasonable price. If Minaya can do that without stripping the farm system the Mets should at least be able to contend for the Wild Card, which is better than I expected back in February.

***

But I digress…let’s get back to Mejia. The Eastern league plays 140 games in a season and Binghamton has already played 67 games. With 73 games left to play, I figure that Mejia can get 14 starts. If he averages seven innings in each he’ll get approximately 98 innings of work, which would leave him with a season total of 126 innings. That’s a big jump from last season’s total of 94 2/3 innings pitched. There’s some doubt as to whether the Verducci Effect is a reliable predictor of pitcher injuries, but a thirty-plus inning increase should be enough for one year. In other words, hopefully the Mets don’t call up Mejia for bullpen duty when the roster expands in September. The limited benefit would far exceed the possible risk.

***

One final tangent: Mejia will make his first start on “Salute to Boy Band” Night. The sheer awesomeness of the moment is unmeasurable. That is all.

Posted in Ike Davis, Jerry Manuel, Mets, Oliver Perez, Omar Minaya | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Megdal Invites Phillips to Debate

Posted by JD on June 17, 2010

This is so preposterously awesome that I would pay to attend in person: Howard Megdal, persuing his campaign to be elected General Manager of the Mets, has invited former Mets’ GM (and chronic adulterer) Steve Phillips to “a friendly debate over my candidacy for General Manager, your experience as General Manager, and the future direction of the New York Mets”.

Howard’s invitation is almost unnecessarily polite. Phillips’ position is clear: most people have no idea what the General Manager’s job entails. On the face of it, I’d suspect that’s true: baseball, like EVERY SINGLE OTHER INDUSTRY, has hidden details which greatly impact success or failure but escape the notice of casual observers. Fair enough.

But the tone of Phillips’ post suggests that we aren’t CAPABLE of knowing what a General Manager does, and that’s highly insulting. Just because we’ve never filled out MLB’s version of a TPS report or held countless daily meetings with scouts, coordinators, and evaluators doesn’t mean that we can’t learn how to do so.

If we extend Phillips’ asinine logic, ordinary people would be incapable of switching industries, opening up businesses unrelated to their current careers, or running for office. That’s downright un-American, and I’d love to see Howard Megdal that make point clear to him in a debate (though I suspect Howard is to classy to do so).

I suspect it’s a moot point: while I applaud Howard’s initiative, I doubt Phillips will accept his invitation. If the man refuses to recognize the greatness of Carlos Beltran on the playing field, I don’t think he’ll want to engage the logic and passion of a long-time Mets fan in a public setting. I hope I’m wrong because I think we’d all benefit from the experience, Phillips included.

Posted in Carlos Beltran, Megdal For GM, Mets | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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