Monday, May 31, 2010

Mets refinancing $375 million in debt

I don't quite know what it all means, but from Biz of Baseball (scroll down).

Ever since it was revealed that Mets owner Fred Wilpon was a client of Bernie Madoff there has been speculation surrounding the financial well being of his baseball franchise. Those concerns should be alleviated with the news that the Mets recently refinanced $375 million of debt. LWIB Daniel Kaplan reported for the SportsBusiness Journal, "The New York Mets holding company is close to refinancing $375 million of debt, sources said, underscoring that despite the team’s troubles at the gate and concerns about the franchise’s owners, the Wilpon family, having lost money in the Bernie Madoff investment scandal, the club continues to perform well financially.

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The Ballad of Oliver Perez

From the facebook version of this site, an idea I broached earlier this morning....
Ollie refused another "rehab" assignment. at this point, there's 2 options left: 1) someone should whack him in the leg to get him on the DL, or 2) just cut bait. this guy has isn't doing himself any favors by refusing or by pitching, so make a deal to pay him less to not pitch and be off the roster now so he's a agent than he would make not pitching but being on the roster for the next season and a half.


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Friday, May 28, 2010

Vote Early, Vote Often

Inspired by this post at

I stopped voting for the All-Star Game and for the most part, stopped watching the game all together. Early/mid April is too early in the season to even start to think about All Star Game voting. With the internet and other ways of mass voting that are easier than heading out to the ballpark, you don't need to lay out the ballot boxes and start the voting until probably now (think about how it used to be 20 years ago). And of course there is the farce of the winner's World Series getting more home games in November than the loser's (ok, that's a double farce). It was done to make the players take it seriously.

As Andrew Vazzano leads me to with the stats and votes, what gets the fans to take it seriously? It's a popularity contest among the fans, the game is a joke, and viewer numbers are down.

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Oh Beautiful Shea

I just have to say it. Watching the 1988 Mets Yearbook (debuting as I type) on SNY, Shea looks absolutely beautiful in the video. So blue, so colorful, so full of live, and almost completely advertisement-free.

And I should point out the brief cameo of my other favorite spot, the then-new complex in Port St. Lucie also showed off that blue (a lot of it is still there).

And I must say that I love the Mets Yearbooks narrated by Bob Murphy and that include audio highlights from both the TV and radio broadcasts. And the video quality looks so good compared to the other ones. It's too bad as that got better, and they moved into Mets seasons that I actually remember, they stopped making these videos.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Interleague Play

It's time for Interleague Play to go away. The novelty has worn off.

Back in 1997, it was all brand new. Before that season, the Mets played the Yankees only in Spring Training (the Yankees trained in Ft. Lauderdale on the east coast of Florida until 1995) and in the Mayor's trophy game. Those were exhibitions, which is how AL vs NL should always be. It didn't matter much who won and who lost.

But in 1997, a few years after losing a World Series from a player's strike that was a hit to the league's image, baseball tried something new. Having AL teams play NL teams in the regular season. That first year saw weird matchups like San Francisco Giants at Texas Rangers (the first ever game), Mets at Detroit Tigers, Baltimore at Atlanta. It was a novelty. It was something to be interested in.

Now we've been watching this for 13 years, almost a decade after baseball stopped ramming the same matchups down our throats (East vs. East, Central vs. Central, West vs. West). We get a potpourri of teams to play. One from one division, two from another, two from another. And there's always some matchups that we MUST see. How could you NOT have this novelty without seeing Cubs-White Sox in Chicago, Dodgers-Angels in Southern California, or Mets-Yankees in New York?

When it first started, the Mets only played the Yankees once. That lasted two years. Imagine that. This year at Yankee Stadium, and next year at Shea. Then it started towards jumping the shark when the rotations and such were thrown off by the now-mandatory home-and-home series. And now no baseball schedule is complete without that series (and other similar series for each team....oh wait). Not every team has this natural rival. Someone has to play Colorado or Toronto while this nonsense is going on.

When it first started, it was such a novel idea that the first-ever Mets-Yankees series (at Yankee Stadium) was not set on a weekend. It was a Monday night, Tuesday night, and Wednesday afternoon series. Today, it's not complete without being part of FOX's Saturday Game of the Week and ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball at least 3 times in 6 weekend games.

It's time for this crap to go, and play games that have a bigger impact on the standings.

But MLB needs to finish up Interleague Play the right and fair way. Find all the matchups that have ever been. Look for teams that have never visited a certain city. For example, the Chicago White Sox have never played the Mets in Queens. Their only matchup was in 2002 in Chicago. Have the Chi-Sox visit the Mets to even things up. How wacky has the scheduling been? The Minnesota Twins are going to make their 3rd visit to Queens to face the Mets later this season, while the Mets have only been out to the Twin Cities once. Take a year or two to even the score as much as possible in terms of teams playing each other in home-and-home, and then make a clean break. If these games are so big, have every team play an Interleague home-and-home weekend before the season starts as exhibition games.

For me, I HATE seeing Yankee fans in my ballpark to the point where they become the dominant voice for these 3 games. I don't normally mind seeing fans from the other team at the game. It's fair. I've been to one or two Mets road games in my life, so that was the case. But that's the hatred I have for the Yankees more than any other team. And it didn't used to be this way. Interleague Play changed that.


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The Mets of Twenty-Ten

2008 was a season with some hope, lots of negativity (at least until it was cleared up after midnight one night), but it ended with the world crashing down on us. 2009 was a season in which it seemed there was hope, but it was just hopelessly bad. 2010 seems like a blend of the two. We don't have the injuries (at least not en masse like we did last year). There was lots of hope at the start of the season. The bullpen pitched well. We had a good streak at home. But it's all regressed into that blend of the past two seasons. I'm starting to feel the same type of negativity around the club (from the fans and what some in the media are writing) that we saw in 2008 (and that went on for a good couple of weeks for a move had to be made). I see the same lack-of-quality club we had a year ago (something that can't change over night).

Right now is a critical time in the Mets' 2010 season, and it's a critical time in the history of the franchise. They're playing the Yankees, a team that always seems to have our number (maybe not on the field, but in our collective heads). 3 losses here, which I can't rule out, for the last-place Mets, could really bury hopes for the 2010 season. It could show the collective pop culture that the Mets are losers (consider one or two good seasons out of 10, considering that 2007 and 2008 weren't good because of the way they lost). It could become a sequel to "The Worst Team Money Can Buy".

I've been saying for about a year now that the only way for the Mets to be on the right track is to clean house, remove the players and management that have had the stigma of losing over the past 5 seasons, and start fresh. It can't happen overnight. Remember that's basically what they needed to do after the original version of "The Worst Team Money Can Buy". They took a few years to rebuild into decency for the late '90s. They need to do it again.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What's the next thing you would change on the Mets

Last night after the game, the Mets made a roster move. One under-productive bench player/outfielder down (DFA), and a hot-hitting one comes up. Something we've been calling for now for some time. We'll see starting as early as tonight what kind of impact this has on the club.

So let me pose the question. What's the next roster move? Let me quantify it by saying that a "move" means having one player added to the roster and one player subtracted from the roster. Let me keep it restricted to players.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The one-sixth report

The Mets have played 27 games in this 2010 baseball season. That is exactly 1/6th of a regulation season.

The Mets are 15-12 , 1/2 game back of Philadelphia for first place in the NL East. They're also 1 full game back of San Francisco for the Wild Card lead. The Giants come to New York this weekend.

So far, the Mets have played Florida (13-13), Washington (14-12), Colorado (13-14), St. Louis (18-9), Chicago (13-14), Atlanta (11-15), Los Angeles (11-15), Philadelphia (15-11), and Cincinnati (13-14). Of the teams that the Mets took series from (all at home and all on the same homestand), they average 12-15. Of the teams that have taken series from the Mets, those teams average 15-12. And they're split with Cincinnati playing the rubber game this afternoon. The point with those numbers was to see that the Mets beat on 3 teams that are all sub-.500, while losing to 4 teams that are at or above .500. It's early, it doesn't say much.

Now onto the team itself.

Coming out of Spring Training, I said that the pitching scared me. What I didn't see coming was a bullpen overhaul. Only 2 spots were secure, 1 went to a former starting pitcher/injured player from last year's roster, and 4 spots belong to newcomers, while parts of last year's bullpen are down in AAA Buffalo. One deserving of that demotion ended up getting injured early on, and one new guy also was injured in the first month. It doesn't seem contagious though. Point being, the bullpen has received rave reviews this year. The pitchers that scared me are mostly in Buffalo.

The starting pitching has been getting through battles even if the team had lost more games than it seems. I also didn't expect Jon Niese to propel to the 3rd starter, and wasn't surprised to see Mike Pelfrey down at 4th. Pelfrey had been the ace up until Philadelphia on Saturday. I said that John Maine needed extended Spring Training to get things worked out. He ended up doing that with the big club, but maybe, just maybe, he's close to his older form. Santana has had too many outings where he was shaky or without his fastball. And Ollie Perez has been a bit better than expected. The starting pitching through 27 games has 9 wins and 7 loses. They're only averaging 5 1/2 innings per start (which is 5 innings and somewhere between 1 and 2 outs in the 6th). That's too few innings from your starting pitchers (148 1/3 overall). They also have an ERA of about 4.00, which is a bit too high. That's about 2 1/2 runs given up before getting pulled. It forces too much reliance on the bullpen to be good, for the bullpen to eat up lots of innings, and for the offense not to be anemic.

And the offense has been anemic at times. The only ones on the roster batting over .300 are 2 relief pitchers, each with a hit in 3 times at bat. Ike Davis is the closest at .295. Reyes got off to a slow start, but he had lots of cobwebs to shake. Wright and Barajas are your HR leaders, and that part is a sign of improvement over last year. But only 4 of 8 position players are averaging better than 1 hit in 4 at bats - Davis, Wright, Castillo, and Francoeur. That's not going to cut it. Bay, Pagan, and Reyes, all of whom you expect big things from, aren't delivering, and it's hurting the club.

Now, let me ask this. Are the Mets a good team that turned the corner when Ike Davis arrived, 2 days after the 20 inning game, and had a bad 3 games over the weekend in Philly and Cincy? Or are the Mets a bad or average team that had a great homestand against 3 clubs currently below .500, including sweeps of 2 teams that are each 4 games below the even mark? In 2008, I said that the Mets were a .500 club that also had one big winning streak not long after their manager was fired, and nothing more. And that was a team that broke our hearts making us think they were good, and contending, and blew it. I'm starting to think that the 2010 Mets are getting back to that 2008 level, and with overuse of the bullpen, I wonder if there won't be another collapse, especially if they continue to rely on them for almost half a game every night (20 inning games excluded).

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