Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Archive for February, 2010

McFadden’s at Citi Field

Posted by JD on February 25, 2010

Shannon Stark at The Mets Police gave us an excellent update on the features of the new McFadden’s bar at Citi Field. Personally, I couldn’t be happier.

Let me get this out of the way: I’m aware of the theory that the Mets are “ripping off” the Phillies by opening their own McFadden’s. The Phillies had their McFadden’s before the Mets did primarily because they opened Citizen’s Bank Park before the Mets opened Citi Field. So, by definition, the Mets were ripping off the Phillies by opening a new stadium, too. Which is just nonsense, of course.

Sure, the Philly McFadden’s was open from day one while the Mets waited a full season before opening theirs. So what? That shouldn’t stop them from enhancing the fan experience and creating a new revenue stream (the bar will pay rent 12 months a year, not just during baseball season), both of which the new McFadden’s will achieve. So good for them, and good for us.

But I digress: the main point of this post was to convey to you why I’m so excited about a new bar. Some history: I’m a former resident of the City of Brotherly Love. I lived there from 2003-05 and I attended more than 20 games at CBP (or, as I like to call it, the Brick Cit House), including the first night game. It was (and still is) a great park and McFadden’s was a key piece.

A great meeting point, you could enter the bar before the game and easily find your friends without wandering around a parking lot. Post game, it was a nice place to meet up for one last beer before heading home. And during blowouts or rain delays? Well, that should be self-explanatory. And for those of you who don’t drink, I understand why you’re not impressed. But you should know that the food was of good quality and they almost always had a decent cover band for the post game. And the Citi Field McFadden’s is supposedly going to have batting cages, which should be fun for everyone.

The main difference between the bars will be their locations (and I’m not just talking about the respective cities). The McFadden’s in Philly is adjacent to the “front” entrance. I put the word in quotes because can their really be a front to your stadium when it’s surrounded by parking lots? But that entrance was the most convenient for those of us who rely on mass transportation, which highlights the main flaw of the Citi Field McFadden’s: it’s on the exact opposite side of the park from the 7 train platform. Obviously, the Jackie Robinson Rotunda prevents placing the bar in the front of the park, but I thought a nice compromise would’ve been the left field gate. For whatever reason, they decided to put it in the corner of the field that is most inconvenient for driver and subway rider alike.

I can’t get too down about the location though, because the overall concept is sound. McFadden’s will add to the fan experience and really, that’s all that matters. It’s a good move by the Mets. Just be sure to ignore the Philly fans when they start chirping…

Posted in Citi Field | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sunk Costs: We’re Not Alone

Posted by JD on February 23, 2010

In a recent post I campaigned for the Mets to sign Felipe Lopez to compete with Alex Cora and Luis Castillo despite knowing that, based on their history, it will never happen. To the best of my knowledge, the Mets rarely cut their losses. The concept of “sunk costs” has just never registered with them and it’s not about to start with Cora ($2 million in 2010) or Castillo ($6 million in 2010 and 2011). And while that frustrates me to no end, today I was lucky enough to be given a dose of reality in the form of Rob Neyer’s post on how the A’s are handling Eric Chavez (I applaud his usage of italics and bold print – very creative!).

Now that, my friends, is a sunk cost. But what Mr. Neyer didn’t mention (and didn’t really have to) is how poorly Chavez played in 2009. Granted, it was only eight games, but Chavez racked up a -30 OPS+ (100 equals league average). I didn’t even know it was possible to have a negative OPS+ so I’m not entirely confident in my next statement, but it sure looks like the A’s paid $11.5 million to a player who was 130% below league average. Ouch.

One situation has nothing to do with the other, especially when you factor in the size of their respective markets. But the fact the fans of a franchise that employs Mr. Moneyball have to deal with an albatross contract of their own at least softens the blow. For what it’s worth.

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The Easiest Prediction of 2010

Posted by JD on February 23, 2010

There are several roster variables in play as we enter Spring Training, but I’ll give you one certainty: barring injury, Henry Blanco will be the Mets’ starting catcher on opening day. That’s not to say he’ll own the job for the whole year, because I think Rod Barajas will get significant playing time this season. But Blanco will own the first day and every fifth day thereafter for one simple reason: he’s going to be Johan Santana‘s personal catcher.

How do I know? Well, this report from El Universal Venezuala comes right out and states it (hat tip to Ben Shpigel of the NY Times). The key phrases are “receptor exclusivo del doble ganador del Cy Young, Johan Santana” and “ya que fue el propio lanzador quien lo pido a la gerencia del equipo*.” Kind of a dead giveaway, no? And there’s this: David Lennon of Newsday points out (from behind a paywall) that Santana “credits Blanco with helping him win his first Cy Young in 2004.”

*Very loose translation: the pitcher asked team management.

Throw in the fact that Blanco sandwiched his time with Santana in Minnesota with stints in Atlanta and Chicago as Greg Maddux’ preferred catcher and it’s a slam dunk that he’ll fill that role for the Mets in 2010. Not exactly groundbreaking stuff, I know. But that’s why it’s the easiest prediction of this year’s Spring Training.

Posted in Johan Santana, Spring Training, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Felipe Lopez is Lurking

Posted by JD on February 22, 2010

It’s been a long off-season for Felipe Lopez. The Brewers picked him up from Arizona in July but declined to offer him arbitration, making him a free agent. Lopez then sat unwanted through the entire off-season but nothing materialized, which lead him to grow frustrated with and ultimately fire Scott Boras. He was recently linked to the Cardinals and Padres but those theories were quickly debunked. Now he watches, unsigned, as pitchers and catchers report to camps in Florida and Arizona.

I’ll start with this: I doubt very much that the Mets will sign Lopez. They have Jose Reyes and Luis Castillo entrenched as their starting middle-infielders and gave Alex Cora $2 million to be their main sub. That contract is the real stopping point: the Mets have never shown an ability to identify sunk costs so Cora probably isn’t going anywhere. But that’s not going to stop me from banging the drum for Lopez.

I admit he has his faults. His 7.3 career WAR looks great until you realize that 5.1 WAR came in just two of the nine seasons he’s played, and on top of that he apparently has an “attitude problem” (according to a Google search, anyway). But I think he’s an upgrade over Cora (career 1.9 WAR), and the Mets should be actively trying* to at least bring him into camp on a minor league deal to compete for a spot. At the very least, he might light a fire under Castillo and Cora. At best, he might have a great Spring Training and take one of their jobs. I fail to see a downside to signing him, especially if he can be had for a minor league deal (a possibility that grows more likely each day).

I really don’t know why I beat myself up with hypothetical signings or trades: I know the Mets will do anything possible to avoid admitting they’ve made a bad signing, so there’s next to no chance they’ll actually sign Lopez. I guess I just can’t help myself. The idea of incremental improvement is too enticing, however unlikely it may be.

*I have to digress here: I have no idea what the Mets are “actively trying” to do, and neither do you. It’s become very easy to trash Omar Minaya and the front office this off-season but we really have no idea what they’re actually doing to acquire players. The perception that they’ve earned over the past three years is not exactly unfair, but the Jason Bay signing showed that published reports that they were doing nothing were unfounded. Yes, it’s most likely that budget concerns have handicapped the front office. But we should at least allow for the chance that the lack of free agent signings happened for a reason. It’s theoretically possible that Omar and his staff have accurately priced the available free agent talent, however unlikely that theory may be, and while I want them to go out and get Felipe Lopez today, I have to admit that they might know something about him as a player that might justify passing on him. I think it’s a bad move, but I’m willing to admit that other alternatives exist.

Posted in Mets, Offseason Moves, Omar Minaya | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

El Infierno

Posted by JD on February 21, 2010

Hat-tip to @fonzieforever for tweeting this NY Times article on Josh Thole yesterday. It seems that Thole earned the nickname “El Infierno” during his time in the Venezuelan Winter League. The Times helpfully translates this as “the Inferno” but never addresses how it came to be. Seriously. They translated what might be one of the most perfect cognates I’ve ever seen, but never bothered to convey why it was applied to the player. Was it his temper? His bat? The amount of hot peppers he ate? We have no idea. I imagine the conversation went something like this:

Editor: “Great story. It’s missing something, but I think it’s great.”
David Waldstein: “Well, I guess I could translate his nickname.”

Editor: “That’s it! Now the story will ‘play in Peoria.’ It really resonates!”
Waldstein: “Thanks! I was just trying to capture the spirit of the thing.”

I shouldn’t be so hard on Mr. Waldstein. After all, I didn’t have the access he, I didn’t interview Thole, and I certainly didn’t have to produce a readable story by deadline. I’m unqualified to criticize, but it just bugs me that there’s no backstory for the nickname.

And in fairness, Mr. Waldstein did a great job presenting Thole’s fiance, Kathryn Poe. She was in a tough spot in Caracas, which can be a terribly dangerous city at times, and Mr. Waldstein showed us that she really handled herself well in an adverse situation. I’m rooting for Thole as much for her as I am for him…she sounds like a real trouper.

Of course, she’s from Oswego, NY, not “Owego”. I mean, I know that I shouldn’t get this fired up about a Spring Training fluff-piece, but the Times really mailed it in on this one. That’s a shame, because Thole and Poe seem to be great folks who deserved a better introduction to the Mets’ fan base. Maybe one day we’ll figure out how Thole became “El Infierno”, but I doubt it will be from the Times.

Thanks to a helpful commenter, I am now aware of the existance of Owego, NY. There isĀ almost nothing worse than ripping into somebody based on shoddy research. That’s certainly the case here, and I apologize to Mr. Waldstein and his editors for my unnecessary and uninformed tweak.

Posted in Mets, Spring Training | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »