Jason Bay, David Wright

Running down the rosters: New York Mets

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As depressing as all things Mets have been lately, the team on the field still finished a respectable 77-85 last season. Unfortunately, it seems likely that things will get worse before they get better.

Rotation
Johan Santana – L
R.A. Dickey – R
Mike Pelfrey – R
Jon Niese – L
Dillon Gee – R

Bullpen
Frank Francisco – R
Jon Rauch – R
Bobby Parnell – R
Ramon Ramirez – R
Manny Acosta – R
Tim Byrdak – L
D.J. Carrasco – R

SP next in line: Jeremy Hefner (R), Chris Schwinden (R), Miguel Batista (R), Matt Harvey (R)
RP next in line: Daniel Herrera (L), Batista, Pedro Beato (R), Chuck James (L)

Instead of going all out — or even making a legitimate bid — to re-sign free agent Jose Reyes over the winter, the Mets dedicated their limited resources to upgrading the pen. Of course, the pitchers they saw as upgrades were the same two the Blue Jays were trying to upgrade from. Francisco should be effective, but he’ll be good for a DL stint or two. How much Rauch has left is unclear. The cheaper pitchers should be pretty good, though. Parnell may have struggled in his first go at closing, but it’d be no surprise if he outperforms both Francisco and Rauch this year.

The rotation looks a lot better with Santana at the top, but there’s no telling what the Mets will get from him this year. Depth is a problem right now, but with Harvey, Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia and Zack Wheeler on the way, the rotation picture will be awfully interesting a year from now.

Lineup
CF Andres Torres – S
2B Daniel Murphy – L
3B David Wright – R
1B Ike Davis – L
LF Jason Bay – R
RF Lucas Duda – L
C Josh Thole – L
SS Ruben Tejada – R

Bench
C Mike Nickeas – R
INF Ronny Cedeno – R
2B-3B Justin Turner – R
OF Scott Hairston – R
OF Mike Baxter – L

Next in line: C Rob Johnson (R), 1B Val Pascucci (R), 1B Josh Satin (R), 2B Reese Havens (L), 2B Jordany Valdespin (L),  3B Zach Lutz (R),  INF Omar Quintanilla (L), OF Adam Loewen (L), OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis (L)

I’m not quite sure why the Mets are picking the guy with the .312 OBP last year as their leadoff hitter and ruling out the guy who finished at .360 in Tejada. But that’s what they’re doing.

If the lineup gets a bounce-back season from Bay, who did manage to finish strong in 2011, then the offense shouldn’t be bad. I don’t expect a whole lot from Torres and I’m not as high on Duda as some, but the middle of the lineup is fine and the guys at the bottom should be a little better than most National League No. 7 and No. 8 hitters.

Defense, on the other hand, is going to be an issue. Fortunately, Torres is one of the game’s most underrated glovemen, and he should be able to pick up a bit of the slack from the weak corners. Murphy at second base could range anywhere from below average to major liability, and Turner, the fallback there, isn’t a whole lot better.

The NL East appears much improved this year after the additions made by Miami and Washington, so I don’t expect the Mets to approach .500 again. They’re not nearly as bad as some like to think, but they’re a ways away from being good.

Cubs fan gets a tattoo that assumes a World Series win in the next four seasons

cubs logo
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This isn’t quite as risky as that (phony) story about the guy betting his life savings on the Cubs winning the World Series in 2016. But it’s still a gamble, both in objective, statistical terms and in terms of the Cubs and their overall karma and luck and stuff. But you gotta have hope, man. Hope is the best thing. Or at least that’s what an escaped ex-con once said.

This got tweeted out in March, but WGN and other media outlets are just picking it up now. I most appreciate the comma after the indeterminate 201_ year, which assumes they may win more than one.

Tattoo experts: what’s the easiest fix here assuming nothing happens for the Cubbies by 2020?

Mets owners get some breathing room on their Bernie Madoff settlement payments

New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon stands on the field before baseball's Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Associated Press
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For years the central fact of life of the New York Mets has been that their owners, the Wilpon family and Saul Katz, lost a ton of money after investing it with friend and business partner Bernard Madoff, perpetrator of the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. It has hampered their payroll and led to huge amounts of borrowing and restructuring that, before last year’s pennant run, seemed like it’d be a millstone on the Mets competitive prospects for years to come.

In addition to losing money, it was later determined that Katz and the Wilpons unfairly gained in some other respects and thus they ended up having their phony earnings clawed back via a settlement with the trustee managing the fallout of the Madoff scandal.  The upshot: the Wilpons and Katz, in addition to their losses, were ordered to pay nearly $60 million dollars back, half payable this week, half payable next year. That’s a lot of money for anyone to fork over and this week’s payment loomed large.

Now, however, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Wilpons and Katz will get some breathing room. Specifically, they have modified their agreement with the trustee and some of the owed money has been deferred. Instead of some $29 million payable this week, they will only have to pay $16 million. The remainder will be paid in four installments — from 2017 through 2020 — with an interest rate of 3.5 percent on the unpaid balance, Rubin says.

Now, there obviously was no promise that the $13 million saved this week be invested in the baseball team, but it’s probably a good thing overall for the Mets if their owners’ debt payments are reduced a bit.

Mike Napoli hit a homer for a fan with cancer

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 30: Mike Napoli #26 of the Cleveland Indians rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field on May 30, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Last night a fan named Kathi Heintzelman showed up at Progressive Field in Cleveland with a sign asking Indians first baseman Mike Napoli to hit a home run for her and to give her a hug. But there was a reason beyond her love for Mike Napoli. She’s starting chemotherapy today and the hug and homer would be a nice thing.  Hard to disagree with that, even if everyone knows that ballplayers can’t hit homers on demand.

Well, most players can’t. Mike Napoli did the easy part before the game, giving her a hug. Then in the sixth inning, he went yard:

 

Whether you believe that such things can be fated or if you merely acknowledge that Heintzelman asked Napoli for a homer at a good time — he’s on a hot streak right now and has hit bombs in four of his last 11 games — it’s a great story.

 

The Twins recall Byron Buxton

Byron Buxton
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Byron Buxton has been recalled from Triple-A Rochester by the Twins.

Buxton will replace Danny Santana, who was placed on the disabled list following a hamstring injury. But the bigger picture here is that Buxton will get a fresh go-around to show that he is the future of the Twins like so many assume he will be. The 22-year-old hasn’t hit so far in the majors, but he batted .336/.403/.603 with six homers, four steals, and a 26/11 K/BB ratio over 129 plate appearances after his demotion to Triple-A last month.

At this point the Twins, who stink on ice, need to just put their top young player in the game and let him learn to swim at the big league level rather than try to squeak out a few extra relatively meaningless wins with guys who won’t be part of the next contending Twins team.