I haven’t written a blog on the Mets yet during this season. It hasn’t been because I haven’t been following them (I try to do the write ups for every Mets out of town game at work), but rather because they’re essentially in baseball purgatory. They’re 55-53, and are unfortunately stuck in the division with two of the best three teams in National League.
It’s genuinely refreshing to have a team of mostly underpaid, and underappreciated players outperform their expectations, a very uncommon sight amongst the usually payroll-bloated New York teams. My breaking point for writing a full blog on this team has been the same all season. Just dust off the Phillies or the Braves in a series. Maybe then the object in their rear view mirrors will actually be closer than it seems. For now, just a few notes on the players:
I’ve already made it clear that I think Carlos Beltran was one of the most unfairly judged players in Mets history. Beltran’s understated, almost effortless brilliance was as good of a fit for this fan base as serving a vintage wine to a construction worker. Combine that with his constant health issues, and you get plenty of stupid callers calling into WFAN shooting off at the mouth about a guy who would be a welcome addition to the middle of any team’s lineup in all of the major leagues.
Fortunately, when that suitor did come calling in the form of the San Francisco Giants, the Mets got a fair return and more. With the addition of Giants top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, the Mets now have a promising future at SP in the minors (don’t forget the Bryce Harper-whiffer Matt Harvey) to look forward to in the coming years. I hope that Beltran makes the playoffs and can replace that one Adam Wainwright pitch with some postseason success.
Looking back on my preseason blogs about the Mets lineup, there is one glaring omission, and it’s looking more egregious by the day. In the absence of Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy has proven that he deserves much better than to be a bench bat on a fringe contender next year. If I were to have known before the season that Murphy would be the starting first baseman regularly, I would have said that there was no more deserving guy on the roster. It’s nice to see that he’s finally getting his due, and is proving what only Mets fans have known for the past three years; he can rake like few others in the league. I’ve tried to tell a few people before, but they either didn’t believe me or didn’t care.
Murphy is not only a tremendously talented hitter, but he also works at it tirelessly. By all accounts of people more in the know than myself, coaches have to actually pull him out of the cage and the video room so he doesn’t overanalyze things. He has the rare ability to not only hit lefties, but excel against them (.294 BA vs LHP this season). He hits well when runs are at stake (.360 with RISP), and when they’re at a premium (.280 in late and close situations). Since June 1st, he has the 2nd best average (.346) in the N.L., behind only his shortstop.
He may not have a cork in his bat (6 HR), but there is a place in any team’s starting lineup for a guy who can flat out hit and effectively man 1st. Hopefully in the offseason the Mets can get a good deal from a team who sees what is plainly obvious to me; Daniel Murphy is a starting MLB player.
Nice to see David Wright come back and silence all of the haters (I’ve been among them before). An exhibition of opposite field hitting, and some dazzling plays at 3rd (yesterday’s bare handed grab at the bag stands out). I still don’t think he fits in Citi Field, but he appears to be Tempurpedic comfortable since his return, and hopefully he can reclaim his spot among the best 3rd basemen in the game.
Can’t wait for Isringhausen to get 300 saves at home. Hopefully he can transfer some of his wealth of knowledge on how to relieve effectively to the ulcer-inducing Bobby Parnell during his presumable one-year ride on the 7 train.
Another very solid performance from Niese yesterday going toe to toe with one of the best pitchers in the NL . If you haven’t seen Jordan Zimmermann pitch, then just trust me when I say that the Nationals will have a nightmare inducing 1-2 punch with him and a healthy Strasburg next year. It’s been a little bit of a bumpy road for Niese this year, but more smooth than rough, and with plenty of reasons for optimism (Last 3 starts vs. PHI: 2-1, 1.37 ERA, 15 K, 7 BB). The guy isn’t a 1 starter, but he looks to be developing into a fringe 2, or very effective 3. The last hurdle is reaching the finish line without tripping up like last year (4.43 ERA in August, 7.11 ERA in September).
I’m done with Mike Pelfrey. It’s maddening watching this guy pitch. Where is that bowling ball sinker that dominated the first half last year? It’s mutually beneficial that he pack his bags and head elsewhere. The bright lights of New York are not exactly showing his good side, if that side exists anymore.
NFL free agency turned me into a Twitter crack addict. After a two day daze and one night bender, here are a few of the conclusions that I have.
If the Eagles are healthy (and that’s a big if with Vick’s idiotic steadfast refusal to slide, and Maclin’s strange and apparently very serious illness), there are no expectations too lofty for them. In every unit (besides possibly the linebackers), this team boasts explosive playmakers. Trent Cole now has a bookend pass rusher to prevent double teams (2010 revelation Jason Babin) and a run stuffing DT (Cullen “Kris’ brother” Jenkins).
The defensive backfield will induce Eli face’s league wide. If Castillo wants to create migraines instead of headaches, why not occasionally slide Asomugha back to his college position of safety, or let Samuel take his unparalleled ballhawking skills to centerfield for a few plays each game. Overall, still bummed out Asomugha’s not a Jet, but happy my team only draws the Eagles once during the regular season (sorry Giants and Cowboys fans).
I’m a big fan of the Plaxico Burress deal. Maybe he won’t be able to roast corners like he did in ’05-’07, but what Plax is and will always be is a towering red zone presence. Seriously, watch that video at the top. The majority of those plays involve Eli just lofting it up, occasionally into double coverage, and Burress wrestling it down by virtue of being taller than whoever was guarding him.
Last year the Jets had trouble busting down the door from inside the 20, and now Sanchez has a 6’5” target with soft hands to loft the ball up to in the corner. Plax says he’s in great shape, and he’s a man with a lot to prove after getting out of a bullshit jail sentence. If he’s 70% of what he was in his prime, the Jets made a worthy investment instead of bending to Braylon’s requests for a probably Holmes-esque deal. Here’s hoping that Plax will be pulling down plenty of short corner fades for Gang Green this year.
I am not the President of the Cromartie fan club to say the least. Anybody would have preferred Asomugha, and I would have preferred the lesser known Jonathan Joseph or possibly taking a flyer on the recently released Nate Clements. If you were to bring Cro on a fishing trip, he would come with all bait and no tackle. He’s unphysical (the best “word that’s not a word” to describe him), and he is only effective at covering receivers who mirror his style (very athletic, but sloppy route runners who are afraid to get their hands dirty).
For all of the great interceptions and returns he had last year, my lasting memory of him is Pierre Garcon taking him to the cleaners in the playoffs. However, he still probably is a top 15 corner in this league, and he is capable of making the big play because of his athleticism. I hope that Kyle Wilson shows why he was a first round pick last year, because I think Cromartie is far too comfortable at his #2 CB spot and needs a kick in the ass from somebody to get the most out of his considerable raw talents.
If the Jets trade Cotchery, I’m going to be pissed. He’s been on this team forever, and is only on the books for $1.8 million this year. On team that has had mercurial receivers (Braylon throughout all of 2010, and Santonio at times last year), Cotchery has been the rock for Sanchez. He’s only had a brief case of the drops once that I’ve noticed, and he has put it all on the line to get this team to a Super Bowl.
I want the Jets to win a Super Bowl more than anybody, but it would not feel right without J-Co on this team the same way it wouldn’t feel right without Ellis on the D-line (if he chooses to come back). If Mike T needs to cut salary, cut Bryan Thomas. He will not find a more able, and more importantly willing, slot receiver on the market than Jerricho Cotchery.