A (very) brief moment to cut Mets some slack

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By my unofficial count, the two most entertaining pastimes these days are (a) spotting Tiger Woods lookalikes and (b) picking on the New York Mets.

We’ve done plenty of the latter just today. Here, here and here, in fact, for those of you who missed out on the fun.

But isn’t it all starting to get a little old? Do we really need to spend the whole offseason picking at the scabs of a destitute franchise that hasn’t been to the World Series since way back in 2000? (That’s pre-9/11 folks!) A team that hasn’t been in a pennant race since 2008, and which has no exciting stars to watch (aside from Johan Santana, David Wright, Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran)?

OK, maybe the Mets don’t have it so bad after all, and I imagine the poor folks in places like Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Washington (if they cared) are rolling their eyes at the massive sound of wringing hands emanating from Queens.

So the Mets aren’t the best-run franchise in the league. And maybe they have hired these guys to head up their medical staff.

But on the bright side, they have a beautiful, almost-brand-new ballpark that probably won’t fall down for another few years, the injured Beltran should be ready to play by May, and Oliver Perez only has two more years and $24 million left on his contract. (repeat after me: the glass is half full, the glass is half full)

On top of all of this comes the good news that Johan Santana is going to take his arm for a spin on Tuesday.

Santana is scheduled to pitch Tuesday during the Mets’ three-day minicamp at their spring training complex. He expects to ready for opening day after having bone chips removed Sept. 1.

“I’m feeling good. Time will tell, but I am feeling good,” the two-time Cy Young winner said Monday. “We did a pretty good job with the offseason, working out and doing all the rehab, and I’m feeling good. Everything is on schedule.”

*So you see there is reason for hope, and there will be a new spirit of Sunshine, Lollipops & Rainbows in Mets-land if Santana looks sharp on Tuesday. Remember, they were only 10 or 20 injuries away from contending last season.

*The author — and CTB in general — reserve the right to resume poking fun at the Mets without notice whenever it is deemed necessary.

The Nats want Trea Turner to attempt 75-80 stolen bases this year

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When it comes to cliche spring training stories, we talk a lot about “Best Shape of His Life.” Sometimes we talk about the “[Pitcher] has been working on a changeup” or “[Hitter] has made an adjustment to his swing” stories too. Then there’s the “we’re really going to focus on fundamentals” quotes managers love to give in February and March. They’re evergreens. 

Another one in that category is the “we’re going to run more” or “we plan to be aggressive on the base paths this year.” You hear that from at least one or two managers every spring. I imagine because, like the fundamentals one, it deals with something over which they have at least some moderate control. It’s a good quote.

We’re hearing it from Nats training camp this year with respect to one particularly speedy player in Trea Turner. From Mark Zuckerman at MASN:

Davey Martinez called Trea Turner into his office this week and told the speedy shortstop he wants him to attempt more stolen bases this season. How many? Let’s just say even the ultra-aggressive Turner was taken aback.

“Yeah, he gave me a number,” Turner said. “And I was like: ‘Wow, all right.’”

Martinez later revealed to assembled reporters that he thinks if Turner “attempts 75-80, we’ll be in great shape.”

Turner led the National League with 43 stolen bases on 52 attempts in 2018. The year before he attempted 54, which was his career high. Only only four players have attempted 80 or more stolen bases in the past ten years, so yes, 75-80 would be quite the escalation.

Which is not to say it’s silly. On a very basic level, yeah, if he is stealing bases more often, even without changing his basic approach, the Nats WILL be in great shape because it’ll likely mean that he’s on base more, and that’s good. If it’s merely a matter of him being more aggressive in the same number of times on base, well, let me know, but I’m not holding my breath.

I guess it’s nice to have goals, though.