Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A List Of Movies For Jose Reyes To Watch With His Family

I had a whole thing ready about Jose Reyes and how he's gone from franchise savior to ridiculously underappreciated in the blink of an eye, but then he went and got thyroiditis or something else that fits perfectly in the Mets' narrative the last year and a half. Seriously though, from age 22-25 Jose Reyes had better numbers than Jimmy Rollins, get off the guy's case. While trying to prevent rioting in Queens and other pockets of Mets support, Jose's agent, Peter Greenberg, assured us his client would rest up as per doctor's orders and "just watch a lot of movies with his family." Well that sure makes me feel better, but just in case movie night at the Reyes household is getting stale, I have a few suggestions that will entertain him and keep him connected to the team.

The Royal Tenenbaums
Don't get me wrong, the Mets don't have nearly the pedigree of the Tenenbaum family, but things rapidly improved in 2005 and 2006 to the point where Omar Minaya looked like a genuis, Willie Randolph looked like a managerial prodigy, Jose Reyes and David Wright looked like future Hall of Famers and the Carloses Beltran and Delgado would provide stability for a time. Then Omar lost his touch, Willie lost the team, Jose lost his brain, David lost his power swing and one Carlos lost his knees and the other his hips. Also, family friend Paul Lo Duca made racially charged comments about the fact that his teammates didn't talk to the press.

The Big Lebowski
Where's the money Lebowski Wilpon? The absurdist farce that is the Mets front office is at this point comparable to the circular non-logic that dominates the world of Lebowski. Bunny was kidnapped, except that she wasn't. Omar Minaya is the top decision maker...except when he's not. The Dude isn't a private dick but everyone thinks he is. Jeff Wilpon isn't a real baseball executive but he thinks he is. There never was any money in the suitcase. It also appears there's none in Flushing. (Note: This selection can also be replaced with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead)

Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America
Pretty self-explanatory I'd say. The Mets rash of injuries last year spread like a virus that no government could stop, starting with Carlos Delgado's hip and peaking with Johan Santana's elbow exploding and David Wright's brains getting scrambled. Admittedly, this one has been sitting on my shelf unwatched, so I don't know if it's any good, but I do know that it's about an overhyped barely pandemic that was supposed to kill us all. Also it has Ann Cusack, who I guess is that Cusack no one talks about. I wonder why.

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
What a classic. When Jose and Mrs. Jose have put the kids to bed, they can cuddle up and watch this one and learn that even the most painful relationships aren't worth completely erasing from our minds. Except of course in the case of the 2007, 2008 and 2009 Mets. I recommend this one with the hopes that Jose shows it to the Wilpons, who then use whatever remains of their Monopoly money to fund research for memory erasing technology so that we can all just forget the last three years.

Step Up 2: The Streets
Dude loves dancing.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Finally, Some Good News

The David Wright portion of the Spring Training Preview Spectacular could be one sentence: David Wright will be fine. One sentence is for Twitter though, and while I've slowly begun conquering that realm, I still do have a ton of virtual space to fill. So on with the worrying. Not that much worrying though.

For a little while, I wondered about Wright catching the Hank Blalock pox, but then I looked up Blalock's stats and noticed he never really came close to Wright. There are the possible lingering effects of Matt Cain's stupid goddamn fastball to the head, but as incompetent as the Mets are, I see them learning from their Ryan Church concussion-related history and paying close attention to Wright's brainpan. It might not even be about learning, it might be the front office gets gripped with the kind of temporary focus that helps you jump out of the way of a speeding car, a survival mechanism that while something as amorphous as "a team" shouldn't have, it does and keeps it from doing anything monumentally dumb. There's the Citi Field problem, but now that some of the hype and panic has worn off the place, maybe Wright will be more at ease. Hell, maybe the blue walls are what the team really needs to succeed there.

Even in his weird-ass freak down year, the guy hit .307 (he was at .324 pre-concussion) and drove in 72 runs in 144 games. RBIs are a bullshit stat yeah, but those 72 runs were all of the Mets' runs, so the number is much more impressive when you think about it that way. Wright's offensive slide coincided with losing Carlos Beltran as lineup support on June 21st, and it's hard to blame him considering that meant he was the last professional hitter standing in Queens. Carlos Delgado and Jose Reyes were lost in May, never to return. Gary Sheffield? Please, he wagged his bat into irrelevance by the middle of July. Keeping that in mind, Wright will at least have Jason Bay in the lineup with him, and Bay shouldn't start approaching awfulness until at least the third year of his contract. There's also a rejuvenated Jose Reyes on the horizon and Carlos Beltran coming back in the middle of the season from an injury as opposed to leaving in the middle because of one.

It's just impossible for me to worry seriously about David Wright and I'm not going to be down on the guy's prospects in March. Yes, like Johan Santana he's basically the linchpin of the offense and if something goes wrong with him, the Mets will be not only worth tuning out by August, but I'll have to tune them out for the sake of my mental health. That day will not come though. At the very, very least the Mets will have the Johan and David show and my gods did this post get depressing by the end. Mets have to start putting up 80 runs in4 games that actually count, I'll tell you what.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What Is It About Big Ben That ESPN Can't Bear To Tarnish?

Contrary to the post title, this is actually the write up for David Wright. And if you believe that, you probably believe that an athlete retreats to a VIP-section where only women are allowed in to protect his privacy and doesn't point to our acceptance of a rape culture. And if you believe that, you're an idiot. Yes that's right, it's time to take a break from previewing the Mets position-by-position to engage in a little media criticism, specifically, ESPN bashing. Oh happy day!

My own ambivalence of this notwithstanding, how can anyone look at Disney Sports' coverage of this second sexually driven clusterfuck in under a year and wonder what the hell is going on over in Bristol? For starters, after reading about Big Ben's latest trouble over at The Hater Nation, I could barely find anything on about it, so I had to turn to a Google News search. Now tonight when I got home from Food Jerk, there was in fact a front page story on about Big Ben. But it wasn't much more than a press release from his high priced attorney saying that of course Ben Roethlisberger did no wrong and the skies will rain blood before you and some whore can prove otherwise. I'm glad, by the way, that the facts already show no criminal activity took place, because that means we can avoid the bother of a trial and police work and all those things that could possibly show criminal activity maybe took place.

Doing my best not to wander into territory covered much more competently by Sports On My Mind, I have to ask: why is that the front page story? We're talking about a high-profile athlete already dealing with one sexual assault accusation in a lawsuit, and now with a second one speeding towards his kneecaps like a cranked up linebacker, we're expected to remain dumb enough to be happy with a statement from the defense and not one bit of actual, y'know, journalism. Of course, by journalism, I mean an orgy of speculation and talking head jackassery. I want Skip Balyess calling for Big Ben to be chemically castrated, then changing his mind and declaring Roethlisberger has bathed in the blood of the Lamb when Michael Wilbon suggests Big Ben needs to get his act together, and then going right back to the castration just to get some poor schmuck to spit his coffee up at ol'Skip's unpredictability.

And I certainly don't mean the WTF moment when Kelly Naqi mentions that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation wouldn't go into whether Roethlisberger's accuser was credible. Are you fucking kidding me with this credibility thing? I don't think I can name another famous human being in my lifetime who's been accused of two rapes in this short a time frame, and I sure as shit can't name one who anyone would ever think of as remotely credible. Unless of course he had a multibillion-dollar media conglomerate trying to shove his lawyer's communiques down our throats.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Because We Always Need A Scapegoat

Just in time for George Vescey's sympathetic profile of him, I turn my sights to the oft-maligned Luis Castillo. Vescey hit all the requisite notes, talking up Castillo's manliness in facing the media after The Drop and how he actually had a damn fine competent year at the plate. Why oh why then, do we meanies in Queens keep calling for his head? Many reasons, George, and most of them have very little to with The Drop.

Part of it, I think, has to do with the ridiculous merry-go-round that has been second base in the Omar Minaya era. Every Met fan knows that since the club formed we've employed literally one million third basemen and that with David Wright manning said corner bag we could all rest easy. Except that in the Minaya era, the following ridiculous people have played second base for the Metropolitans: Miguel Cairo, Chris Woodward, Jose Offerman, Kaz Matsui, Anderson Hernandez, Jose Valentin, Ruben Gotay, Damion Easley, Luis Castillo, Exxon Wilson Valdez and Alex Cora. Oh, and Marlon frakking Anderson played for four innings in 2008. Eleven second basemen in five seasons doesn't breed much confidence in the position.

Why did this happen? Well, Omar got lucky and struck oil with Valentin in 2006 and thought he could repeat his performance in 2007. This made sense because gambling on a 37-year-old who strikes out a ton and never hits for average is the number one rule for success in "How To Build A Better Baseball Team". It's on the front cover actually, in a red starburst with white lettering. In call caps. But duh, Valentin was old and hurt and hey does anyone remember how he struck out with one out and the bases loaded in the sixth inning of Game 7 against the Cardinals? That all he had to do was put the ball in play? How he struck out against Jeff fucking Suppan? That the odds of the Cardinals winning the game when he came to the plate was a paltry 29 percent? That's OK if you don't, go on blaming Carlos Beltran for striking out against a guy who had nastier stuff than Suppan finds on the bottom of his shoe, I'll just be here bitterly remembering how it had come right after The Catch and how the Mets had a ton of momentum before The 'Stache did us in for good. But now I'm off the rails completely and I'd like to get to bed sometime tonight/this morning.

ANYWAY, as the Mets struggled to find an answer at second, Omar finally brought in Luis Castillo, about two years past his expiration date. Still, he was alright and it's not like he did anything to directly aid in the collapse and a month into his Met career he had a walkoff RBI against Trevor Hoffman. When the season was over and the free agent landscape wasn't great at second base, no one would have been apoplectic if Luis came back. Until of course Omar Minaya had some kind of stroke and gave a 32-year-old with creaky knees a four year contract. What?

2008 was of course horrible and forgettable and appeared to be a sign of things to come for the next three years. Castillo showed up next spring talking about how in shape he was, how his knees had been replaced with computer parts and how he would show us all. And show us all he did, at least until that fateful night in Yankee Stadium where I almost collapsed on the bar floor, barely mustered up the focus to continue along on my date and actually called my dad to see if he had survived it. From them on, it wouldn't have mattered if Luis Castillo batted .400 and offered to rend his garments after every game. A team that was a poorly assembled, injured circus show found its defining moment, and all before the All-Star break.

The other reason everyone hates Luis Castillo is that his name isn't Orlando Hudson. Hudson has basically thrown himself at the Mets for two off-seasons now and the Mets have coughed, looked embarrassed and stuttered something about how "This never usually happens" before Orlando found homes with better teams. Here's something you may not know about Orlando Hudson: Luis Castillo had one more extra base hit for all of 2009 than Hudson had home runs and triples, 16 to 15. Another thing you may not have known was that Orlando Hudson's defense was worth 3.5 runs to the Dodgers. Luis Castillo's defense was worth -5.9 runs to the Mets. Sadly, that was an almost 8 run improvement for Castillo from 2008. This is why I stand by my contention that continuing to play Luis Castillo and Daniel Murphy on the right side of the infield will be a disaster. Really going out on a limb there, I know.

So yes, Luis Castillo, if he repeats his 2009 offensive year on a team that will theoretically run actual major league players out there, will be less of an albatross than he appears to be. But he'll still be merely average compared to his peers and that's discounting his deteriorating defense. So to answer Vescey's question of why Met fans pick on Luis Castillo, I'll simply answer that he just isn't very good at baseball.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Spring Has Sprung In Bizarro World

The Mets are beating the Braves!

Dammit, I need Bushido to give me the Twitter password already.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Scout to Wojo: "Hurrrr"

Back in the glory days of the internet when the FJM crew ruled the media criticism landscape, you could usually expect one or two broadsides a week against morons and their fetishistic attachment to the win. The pitching statistic, not the actual claim a team gets on a victory. Now they're gone and darkness rolls across the land again, with ESPN articles featuring wisdom from scouts like this:

Cain can really pitch, man. Lincecum, he's a freak. He weighs 160 or so pounds. He's a max-effort guy with a bad delivery. Don't get me wrong -- he punched out 261 guys last year and he might pitch forever. But it's just that Cain pitches with such ease. He won 14 games last year with a 2.89 ERA. Lincecum won 15 with a 2.48. See what I'm saying?

I don't see what you're saying at all, but I do understand why you asked to remain anonymous, Scout X. Because if you want to take Matt Cain, who is very good, over consecutive Cy Young-winner Tim Lincecum because "Hey, wins" you should be fired. I don't even know if that's what he's going for, because he undermines his case by pointing out that Lincecum won more games anyway. Something about he'd rather see a guy pitch who uses the "Pitcher 3" delivery from MVP Baseball 2005 instead of the guy whose rocket scientist dad built him a delivery using cybernetic implants and necromancy. Christ, this guy works for the Mets, doesn't he?

The Mets are a poorly put-together team.

Well, at the very least he knows us like the back of his hand.

The "Luck of the Irish" Is a Purely Ironic Phrase

We all know that of course. After all, the Irish are so unlucky that going through their entire wretched history is a downer even for your average Met fan. From the potato famine to the migration to America which found them nothing but "No Irish" signs in storefronts to their use by WASPS as a convenient bulkhead against blacks to the awful appropriation of St. Patrick's Day (during which I will be vomiting up a storm participating in full, as usual) to the fact that they're the only English-speaking tribe in the world still living under the yoke of the terrible British, the Irish are just plain unlucky. So it stands to reason that young Daniel Murphy would not escape this curse. Then again, I don't even know for sure if Daniel Murphy is Irish, I just know it's a convenient jumping off point for discussing him. Know who else is that? This guy:

If Daniel Murphy and Frenchy aren't the best of friends and road trip roommates already, someone should get them moving towards that, because they have a similar history of being prospects rushed into the limelight and quickly seeing their weaknesses exposed by superior big league talent. Yes, even Steve Trachsel. I don't know why the Braves bought Francoeur up before he was ready because I'm not a goddamn Braves historian, but I do know that the Mets brought Dan Murphy up too early because as usual in the Minaya era, they had no reliable back up plan.

So Dan Murphy came along and did his best to put a happy ending on the Mets' disastrous 2008 campaign and his best was pretty damn good. The kid hit for average, had a good eye, hit in the clutch and was generally that white dude that Vinny from Queens could talk about with pride on the FAN because he wasn't DominiMexaUelan. In other words, Eric Byrnes but good at baseball.

Then 2009 came and Murphy didn't have a position. God knows he wasn't actually playing left field, unless you count possibly blowing a Johan Santana no-hitter six games into the season "playing" any position. So it was off to first base because Carlos Delgado came down with a terminal case of old. Despite looking better there then he did in left, Murphy still couldn't completely avoid catastrophe, like in this awful game, the recap of which I'm actually quite glad I can't embed.

Bad enough he couldn't field, Murphy's golden bat turned to cardboard and his hawk-like eyes seemed to replaced with Woody Allen's. Instead of a first baseman who may not hit for much power but could at least walk and hit for average, we had a first baseman who could be sub-par in every offensive and defensive category. Sure forty thirty-nine doubles should not be scoffed at, but with twelve home runs and a paltry .266/.313./.427 line, I can forgive a little scoffing.

So what does the future hold for the previous Great White Hope? Hearing footsteps mostly. Despite his .282/.313./.485 line in the second half of the season, Met management is chomping at the bit to not learn from their mistakes and rush Ike Davis up the ladder. That is, provided that none of the ridiculous trade scenarios involving Adrian Gonzalez come to fruition, which they won't. To stay on the Metropolitans as anything but a super-sub or something, Murphy is going to have to add a bit more oomph to his swing and learn to hit lefties. The first is certainly possible but the second less so because he'll be platooned with Fernando Tatis.

Ah yes, the second half of this equation, a man who I'd totally forgotten was part of the plan until I started writing this preview. What about Tatis? Well, what about him? He's 35, got forced into too many at-bats last year and spent about two straight weeks doing nothing but grounding into double plays. Provided he doesn't have to play every position on the field because of ridiculous Indian burial ground-curse injury problems he'll hopefully provide more of a 2008 Tatis than the slightly dminished 2009 version.

A shorter version of all this is that on a scale of 1 to 10, the best a Met fan can hope for is Lyle Overbay.