MLB Has A Pace Of Spring Training Problem


Can we stick a fork in Spring Training and start the goddamn MLB season already? I came out of the gate extremely excited for Spring Training as I always do, but my excitement turned to impatience almost immediately. The last month has been filled with nothing but non-stories, fabricated headlines, and Tim Tebow BS every other day. I can’t take it anymore.

Rob Manfred never shuts up about pace of play, but how about we cut down the freaking length of the pre-season? Two months of Spring Training BS is completely ridiculous and unnecessary.

The only thing that’s been saving me this year is the World Baseball Classic. Obviously the risk of injury to major league players in the tournament is real and for many fans that taints the entire experience. But let’s be honest, this WBC tournament has been absolutely incredible. Top notch entertainment.

If you’ve watched these WBC games and you can’t acknowledge how entertaining the games have been then you must be a grumpy old baseball purist who hates fun. Every game that I’ve watched in the later rounds has had a playoff caliber atmosphere.

And for all the fans out there against the WBC due to the injury risks, it’s not like these guys are magically protected from harm during Grapefruit League games. The Mets were probably screwed whether they had guys in the tourney or not.

It’s been written about to death but the major reason the tournament is so fun is that the players let loose and play with raw emotion. They temporarily abandon the uptight regular season style of ball and instead the guys are flipping bats, dancing in the field, leaping out of the dugout. It’s so damn refreshing. Just look at this pimp job from last night.

One of the reasons the NFL and NBA are so popular is that the players are encouraged to display raw emotion on the field. Post sack celebrations and electric slam dunks are some of the most entertaining elements of football and basketball respectively. The WBC has shown how fun baseball can be with that element of raw emotion and pageantry incorporated into the games, and we really need to see more of it during the regular season.

As far as Spring Training news goes, every time I try to write a blog, the “story” I wanted to write about turns out to be a non-story. Here’s the latest crap:

Tebow Fake News: The Tim Tebow news cycle this spring has made me want to vomit. He’s a total embarrassment. But look at how ridiculous the Tebow Fake News cycle was last week. The guy went from great game to media gag order to gag order lifted to banished from camp to starting the next day. Total joke #FakeNews.

Nimmo Out Forever With Hammy Strain: Brandon Nimmo demonstrated an absolute classic Mets injury news cycle last week. It was laugh out loud hilarious. He hurt his hammy in the World Baseball Classic (screw the tournament, I take everything I said back) and then went from out for weeks to totally fine to out forever. He’s dunzo. I keep forgetting that his major flaw is he can’t stay on the field. Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares are going to form the most injury prone platoon in the league next season in center field.


Be Patient Flo: Wilmer Flores this week indicated to the media that he’s not happy about a part time role this season. Ummm hey Wilmer how about you be a little patient. David Wright is finished. You’re already in line to snag regular at-bats at third base. Just wait for Duda’s back to start barking and you’ll be playing everyday at first base. I guess Wilmer forgot how injuries work on this team.

Dead Beat Reyes:

Just a friendly reminder that Jose Reyes is a scumbag husband and a deadbeat parent. Don’t normalize his behavior because he’s a professional athlete. If you found out your neighbor didn’t pay his child support, had a second family, and was arrested for beating his wife you probably wouldn’t even make eye contact with the guy when you took out your trash.

Harvey Still Swinging:

Harvey’s fastball velocity may be lacking, but he hasn’t lost his touch with the ladies.

The return of Matt Harvey is one of the few meaningful spring storylines for the Mets. I was going to write a “sky is falling” blog last week when Harvey had a crappy appearance and lacked velocity. But in yesterday’s outing he was hitting 96 MPH. Now I don’t know what to believe. Everything I read about the thoracic outlet surgery tells me that his recovery is not guaranteed. There’s a chance he may never be the same. There’s a chance he may take this entire season to regain his velocity and command. But let’s just let this rehab process play out and pray. Harvey’s condition really is important though. A dominant Harvey could be the difference between an NL East title and just missing the second wild card.

Thor, Yo, and deGrom: I’ll close this post with the only news that matters: The health and performance of Yoenis Cespedes, Noah Syndergaard, and Jacob deGrom. If these three guys are healthy and performing at an elite level this season I truly believe the Mets will have a successful year. Obviously overall roster health is vitally important, but we learned last year that Yo and Thor can carry this club even when the rest of the roster is banged up. And so far this spring Yo is mashing and Thor/deGrom look healthy and nasty. Pray for them.

Advertisements

10 Shocking Spring Injuries You Will Never See Coming

ray-ramirez-shocking-injuries

The nature of these Mets injury cover-ups will absolutely shock you. The details are so horrifying that you may never think of the team in the same way again. The information is being concealed all the way at the top of the….

Am I in the clear? Did that little preamble surpass the character limit on the sites that show blog samples? Well if not, oh well. Y’all got clickbaited baby! The truth is there are no shocking injuries in Metsland. Mets fans ALL know the injuries that are coming. Sandy knows. Terry knows. Ownership knows. Everyone knows.

Zack Wheeler stopped his bullpen session yesterday due to tenderness in his elbow. The Mets say it’s no big deal. This shutdown should come as a surprise to literally nobody on earth. Zack was the unquestioned lock to be the first member of #TeamTender. Lock city. He’s the only guy on our team that has somehow played less than David Wright (another injury lock) over the past two years.

As far as the rest of the pitching staff goes, they are all injury risks. If any of them are dealing with residual injury issues by Opening Day, the team isn’t allowed to shrug and say “never saw that coming.” Would it really be that surprising if at the end of March Matt Harvey is still recovering from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery, Wheeler still can’t pitch, and Steven Matz has a sore shoulder? I’m certainly not wishing that on any of these guys. I’m being realistic. I’m literally just citing the injuries they dealt with all of last season and assuming that there may be some lingering issues.

The rotation is full of question marks and the team should have treated them as such. Bartolo Colon should have been re-signed. The Mets should have signed a swingman for the pen. They should have signed at least one veteran arm to a minor league deal for insurance (Jon Niese will be back. It’s going to happen. I feel it).

As far as the bullpen goes, Jeurys Familia may not be an injury risk, but he’s a lock to be unavailable on Opening Day. He’s getting suspended. The team knows this. For some reason fans don’t seem concerned by this at all because they are assuming Addison Reed is going to 100% duplicate his career best 2016 season. That’s not even close to a guarantee, but even if it was the team is going to have a tough time replacing the innings of the suspended closer. And if the rotation fears mentioned above come to pass, you can forget about Seth Lugo or Zack Wheeler picking up the slack in the pen.

At least the position players are safe right? Wrong. David Wright hasn’t thrown a baseball. That was the first lock of Spring Training. I actually read articles yesterday where people are proposing we try playing Wright at first base. Ummm he can’t play anything. Why would we think first base would be any different at all? He can’t throw a BASEBALL.

Who’s next? Come on, you know the answer. Go ahead and say it. Travis d’Arnaud! If Mr. Glass goes down with some injury like he always does, I’m sure it’ll be the week after the Nationals sign Matt Wieters to some cheap one year deal. Yup. We’ll be rolling with Rene Rivera and Kevin Plawecki, and the organization will pretend they never saw it coming.

I’m not even going to get into the risks around Lucas Duda, Neil Walker and the rest of #TeamCrackedBack or the risks of Jose Reyes (aka Senor Hammy Strain) running around like he’s 20 years old in the World Baseball Classic.

The bottom line is we must pray for health. But if/when the injuries strike, please don’t act surprised and let the organization off the hook. I wasn’t clamoring for the team to sign players and make trades all offseason just for the fun of it. I was begging for it because our roster (although seemingly deep) is filled with fragile young pitchers and aging position players, and the injury risks are already starting to show in week one.

Wheeler Is Tender, Start Praying

It only took three days for the Mets to have their first pitching related hiccup of Spring Training.

Zack Wheeler has a tender elbow. Surprise! The man has had a tender elbow for two years now. His Tenderness attempted to throw a bullpen session, and the Mets quickly shut it down. Right now they are attributing the discomfort to scar tissue from the Tommy John surgery he had two years ago. The team says his physical at the start of camp showed no structural damage in the arm.

Whether it’s minor tenderness due to scar tissue or some massive injury being covered up by the Mets training staff, the bottom line is we must do what we always do when it comes to Mets pitching. We pray.

This early setback is really a reminder of two things.

  1. If Robert Gsellman has a strong spring he’s winning that fifth starter job.
  2. We should have re-signed Bartolo Colon.

These aren’t shocking revelations at all. Gsellman pitched great in September last year, and Wheeler hasn’t been healthy for two years. Gsellman has to be considered the favorite early on. And Colon was the horse of our pitching staff for three straight seasons. I never understood the dump Colon and pray plan. I mean I understood that the Mets didn’t want to pay Bart. But I didn’t understand it from a roster perspective (because it made no sense).

Anyway, here we are on day three of camp and we’ve learned David Wright hasn’t thrown a baseball yet and Zack Wheeler can’t throw one again. Sigh.

Meanwhile His Sexiness is strutting all over Braves camp like the dynamo he is.

I miss Big Sexy. At least we know Colon will be back midseason when we eventually trade Gsellman for Colon and Kelly Johnson.

Spring Training Begins: Thor Grows, Harvey Shrinks

Sunday was the report date for Mets pitchers and catchers, and on Monday the team officially kicked off Spring Training in Port St. Lucie. Even though the storylines from now until the end of March tend to be BS fluff, I still love to hear all of it. I’ll take the BS fluff stories over the Cold Stove any day. Baseball is better than no baseball.

Here’s a quick recap of what we’ve learned in camp so far:

Thor To Bring Heat: Noah Syndergaard showed up on Sunday and addressed the media. He basically told everyone he’s put on 17 pounds of muscle and plans to throw 110 MPH. I love the fire, but please Jesus will somebody tell him to take it easy for a few weeks? Pray for Thor’s UCL. We need that arm intact for 200+ innings.

Slimming Black: Matt Harvey on the other hand showed up on Sunday looking like he lost 17 pounds in addition to a rib. But after I saw him in his press conference and during his bullpen sessions I think it was just the optical illusion of his slimming black shirt. Great to see Matt back and looking healthy.

Yo Quiet: It’s been fairly quiet on the Yoenis Cespedes front (other than an incredible Cowboy photo shoot at his ranch). Unlike last year there were no stories about Yo showing up to camp in a sports car. Probably because he spent the day in the parking lot deadlifting all the other player cars.

No Familia: The only pitcher missing from camp on day one was Jeurys Familia. Apparently he was having some visa issues. At first I thought maybe Trump had him deported due to his criminal record, but then he rolled into camp on Tuesday. The only takeaway I had on Familia was that he typically speaks great English, but when it came to talking about his domestic violence arrest all of a sudden he’s using interpreters and lawyers. The old no comment treatment. Classic.

Vegas For Life: The Mets designated Ty Kelly for assignment to make room on the roster for one of their relievers, and he immediately cleared waivers because duh. Were people really worried about Ty getting claimed? No chance.

Forget Versatility: Terry Collins said he doesn’t plan to get Michael Conforto reps at first base. He feels Michael has too much on his plate already and doesn’t want him focusing on learning a new position. Terry did add that Jay Bruce aka the human statue might take some grounders at first though. I don’t care if it’s Michael or Jay (probably should be both), but Terry better have one of these guys learning some first base. He’ll probably just wait until Duda’s back flares up and then have one of them learn the position on the fly. Sounds smart.

He Hasn’t ThrownDavid Wright hasn’t thrown a baseball yet. Sounds like another guaranteed 162 game season for our boy D-Wright! No doubt about it. And by that I mean he’ll be a player/coach by May. Please sign Kelly Johnson. Now that we know Wright’s true status a Johnson signing is a no brainer.

7 Man Rotation: Terry Collins indicated that Zack Wheeler, Robert Gsellman, and Seth Lugo are likely to start Spring Training as starting pitchers. I’m actually excited about a competition for the 5th starter job. Let’s just hope the competition stays limited to the 5th starter spot.

We Pray: The takeaway from the first few days of camp is that all the players and the organization are excited by the fact that our young pitchers are all in camp and supposedly healthy. That was a running theme of camp last year too, and we all know how that turned out. The bottom line is pray for the healthy rotation. Light your candles and build your shrines. Ask the old gods and the new to bless the shoulders and elbows. Pray that Bartolo Colon left behind some of his durability magic so these guys can make it through a full season.

2016 Mets Season Preview: We Watched, Now We Win

metswatch

We are three weeks away from the Mets Opening Night game in Kansas City. A fitting matchup that pits us against the team that ended our 2015 season. The team that celebrated their first World Championship in 30 years as the Mets watched from the dugout. Our fans watched the celebration at Citifield and on television. It stung. Even when I think about it now the series still stings. It has left a scar that Mets fans will bear forever. But the experience will make the team stronger and unite the players in their mission to bring the franchise its first World Championship since 1986. And thanks to Sandy’s offseason personnel maneuvers, we are in a great position to get back to the Fall Classic in 2016. And this time, I think we will have the experience and talent to get the job done.

Infield and Catching Preview:

Despite being a team built on elite pitching, the Mets continue to subscribe to the mantra “offense is the new defense”. This is especially true in the infield. That being said, the Mets replaced Daniel Murphy and Wilmer Flores up the middle with Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera. Walker and Cabrera are below average defenders. But Murph and Flores were so much worse. Murph and Flores really set the floor as far as advanced defensive metrics are concerned. Just brutal. So it should be nice to have experienced and near competent defenders up the middle for 2016. And I absolutely love having Neil Walkyear. In the contract year, when the payday is on the line, players are almost always at their best.

Asdrubal Cabrera is pretty much a shortstop impersonator at this point in his career. And he’s already back in New York getting platelet-rich plasma therapy on his knee and sleeping in an MRI machine. That being said, he should eventually return even if it’s not for Opening Day. And when he does he will represent an upgrade over Wilmer at the position. Plus, the guy has averaged nearly 17 dingers a season since 2011. He’s a real major leaguer, and I fully expect him to be a major contributor in 2016.

2016 is a huge year for Lucas Duda. He’s been one of the most productive offensive first basemen in the sport over the last two seasons. Top 10 in Wins Above Replacement at 1B. Top 10 in OPS. But up until the arrival of Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline last year, Duda had to be the big presence in the Mets lineup. Lucas had to be the guy. And Duda just never excelled in that spotlight. Well he doesn’t have to be that guy anymore. Now with Cespedes in town for a full season, Duda can be just another piece in a fairly stacked lineup. I expect big things from the gentle giant. He needs to continue to hit lefthanded pitching like he did in 2015. He needs to improve his approach against the breaking ball. Duda has two more seasons before he hits free agency. If he wants to cash in, he could really help his chances by improving upon his 2014/15 campaigns.

I have absolutely no confidence in David Wright and his ability to stay on the field. He has spinal freaking stenosis. My grandmother has spinal stenosis. David is dunzo. The doctors have no confidence in David’s ability to magically overcome this degenerative condition. The Mets loaded up on infield depth, seemingly signaling the organization has no confidence. Wright even appears to have no confidence. When they ask him about his injury, he just shrugs and says “I’m just taking it day by day”. I hope we make the playoffs and David is feeling strong enough to play at that time of the year. That’s my only hope for David this year. Other than that I expect nothing from him.

Travis d’Arnaud has been “Mr. Glass” his entire career. It’s always something with Travis. Baseball Reference projects he’ll have just over 300 ABs, which certainly represents a bearish forecast reflecting his injury history.

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 6.19.47 PM

I’m inclined to agree with this prediction because Travis has never shown once that he has the ability to put together a full season. That being said, I expect him to be one of the most productive offensive catchers in the league when he is on the field. He hit 12 home runs in just over 200 ABs last season. On the defensive side, his pitch framing has been praised. However, he struggled to throw out base stealers in the playoffs. He will need to improve that in 2016. And if d’Arnaud does somehow find a way to remain healthy and gets 400+ ABs, I fully expect him to be in the All-Star conversation.

Outfield Preview:

The Mets 2016 outfield has the potential to be among the most productive units in the league. Retaining Yoenis Cespedes was obviously huge. He’s a gold glove LF who will be trying his hand in CF for a full season. His defense in CF hasn’t been ideal over a small career sample size. But he’s a freak athlete, and he’ll be fine. And he’ll more than make up for any defensive shortcomings at the dish. I don’t expect him to match his career high 35 home runs from last season. I don’t expect him to bat .291. I expect him to regress to his career averages of around 25 home runs and around a .270 average. Which should make him the best hitter on the team by far. And as we saw last season, he’ll make everyone around him better. He’s just that kind of intimidating lineup presence.

Other than actually having him on the team, the best part about signing Cespedes is that it takes the pressure off of Michael Conforto. Remember in December when the Mets were planning on betting their entire 2016 season on a sophomore outfielder? Thank god that never came to fruition. Now Conforto can develop at the major league level. If he excels, then we are going to have an elite offense. If he stumbles…we can still have an elite offense. Conforto looked fantastic in his rookie season. He grinded out every at bat like a veteran. Unbelievable pitch recognition. The metrics said his 2015 defense in LF was acceptable. But we’ll have to see how he fares over the course of a full season. We will also expose him to more lefthanded pitching this season. And again, if he struggles against lefties we have the luxury of playing Juan Lagares in CF and Cespedes in LF.

Curtis Granderson was the Mets offensive MVP over all of 2015. On this there can be no debate. He came back from a shitty 2014 debut and shined in the leadoff spot. He hit for power, he drew walks, and he was even nominated for a gold glove in RF. His 2015 season at the plate was among the best of his career. I expect a regression offensively. However, I still expect him to remain among the Mets most productive hitters and biggest power threats. Pray for health. He’s going to be 35 come Opening Day. We need him at the top of the order to get back to the dance.

Bench Preview:

Depth. We finally have it. Thank the old gods and the new. Am I worried about “Mr. Glass” Travis d’Arnaud? No not really. Because we have another young developing stud in Kevin Plawecki. He wasn’t very good last year. He hit .219. But he was a rookie, and he’s going to develop and grow in 2016. The other Mets beat writers keep saying he should start the season at AAA. They are insane. He will start at the major league level, and he will wind up playing all the time when Mr. Glass goes down.

Wilmer Flores is our super-sub. And by that I mean Flores is now our starting SS because Asdrubal is injured. Or is he our starting 3B with Wright being hurt? That is why teams need depth. Your super-sub becomes a starter every other week all season long. That’s how they make a goddamn living. But assuming Cabrera and Wright eventually come back, Wilmer is going to be busy filling in at every infield position. He’s never played 1B at the major league level. He stinks defensively at SS, 2B, and 3B. I’m guessing that trend will continue at 1B. That being said, he’s the only real proven major league insurance we have for Duda, Wright and Cabrera. So hopefully two of those three starters are healthy at any given time all season long. Just cross your fingers because the lack of real depth at 1B/3B is probably our most glaring weakness. One injury to Duda and we are in a bit of trouble. Did somebody say Soup?

Speaking of Soup, Eric Campbell is likely to make the Opening Day roster now that Cabrera is hurt. You want a preview? Here’s your preview: Soup sucks.

Ruben Tejada is still here. With Cabrera and Wright injured, Wilmer Flores is playing 3B and Tejada is the starting SS. And Wilmer is going to play quite a bit of 3B considering Wright hasn’t logged a single Grapefruit League inning thus far. The Tejada trade rumors continue to persist. I think they are BS. He just won’t go away. We keep trying to get rid of him. The competition we bring in at SS doesn’t matter. No matter how big a guy might be, Ruben takes him on. You beat Ruben with your legs, he comes back with a glove. You beat him with a glove, he comes back with a bat. And if you beat him with a bat, you better finish him, because he’ll keep comin’ back and back until one of you is cut.

The Mets backup outfielders are starting caliber. This is the best crop of backup outfielders we’ve had in years. A real two-headed platoon monster on the bench waiting to be unleashed. Juan Lagares is going to start against lefties. I imagine he will come into games for defense almost every night. Alejandro De Aza is going to be the primary lefthanded hitting pinch hitter off the bench. Juan Lagares can really hit lefthanded pitching. Alejandro De Aza can really hit right handed pitching. Kirk Nieuwenhuis could never really hit any pitching. The upgrade is going to be so significant. If somebody gets hurt, we will have actual productive starters to slide in. I’m so grateful. And I also call BS on the De Aza trade rumors.

We also have 2B Dilson Herrera and SS Matt Reynolds waiting in the wings at AAA.

Starting Rotation Preview:

The starting pitching is our everything. It’s what we are built upon. One rotation, under Warthen, unhittable, with power and strikeouts for all. Our rotation of studs has a chance to be the best single season staff of all time. That’s not an outrageous claim. That’s not Mets fan bias. It is a fact. Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard are absolute horses. I’m not going to sit here and make career predictions for them even though it’s so tempting. That is way too hard to project and dependent on way too many factors. But I fully expect Matt Harvey, in his second season coming off TJ surgery, to dominate the NL. We’ve seen this happen historically with pitchers in their second year back from TJ. Plus he’s re-incorporating his deadly slider into his repertoire. Mike Petriello from MLB.com wrote a great article showing how the spin on Harvey’s slider improved over the course of last season as he became more comfortable on the mound. Harvey made slider related adjustments towards the end of July in 2015. The results?

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 8.12.13 PM

Bottom line is expect big things from a healthy Harvey.

Jacob deGrom has been the best pitcher on the team the last 2 seasons. I hope the 2015 workload and playoff innings have no effect on his 2016 performance. If he’s able to overcome any workload related fatigue, then he should be a Top 5 NL pitcher and Cy Young candidate. Noah Syndergaard has a chance to be the most dominant pitcher on the staff. The guy throws a 100 MPH with pinpoint control. Sports Illustrated included Thor on their list of Top 5 pitchers at risk of injury in 2016 as a result of his increased workload in 2015. Don’t even click the link and read the article. Just pray that we are blessed for once. Light your candles for Thor.

Steven Matz looked fantastic in his few regular season starts and postseason appearances. I think he’s an early favorite for NL Rookie of the Year. He’s another injury risk because of his size and delivery, but it’s okay. Why? Because once again we have the depth. We have Big Sexy Bartolo Colon gobbling up innings. We have our other elite hard throwing stud Zack Wheeler on the mend from his TJ surgery but expected back in June/July. We even have reinforcements in AAA in the form of Logan Verrett and possibly Sean Gilmartin if he doesn’t make the Opening Day bullpen.

Bullpen Preview:

I think our bullpen presents the single biggest risk of derailing our quest to return to the World Series. Nobody is worried about Jeurys Familia. He was among the most dominant closers in the game last season, and he should be again this season. But there is always injury risk and behind him we lack a viable tested 9th inning option. I love Antonio Bastardo and Jerry Blevins as late inning lefthanded relievers. But they are not closers. Bastardo is more likely to be a full inning option as he has had success against righthanded and lefthanded hitters in his career. But he’s not an elite late inning option. Addison Reed has closing experience, but he’s never been consistent. He spent time in the Diamondbacks minors league system last season for Christ’s sake. I think Hansel Robles has the best chance to break out in 2016 and serve as a top setup man. He throws 95+ consistently and his secondary pitches looked better as the season went on. By not acquiring a late inning reliever other than Bastardo, the Mets have made a big bet on Robles in 2016. If his command improves he should be a strong late inning weapon. But again I’m saying “if”. The bullpen is the only area where we are full of “ifs” outside of Familia. Luckily bullpens across the league are typically big “ifs”. So we have a lot of company in that department. Erik Goeddel may also make the team although he has battled spring injuries. Former Brewers closer Jim Henderson has also had a strong spring, but we would need to add him to our 40 man roster if he’s going to make the Opening Day team.

2016 Prediction:

I see the Opening Day 25 Man Roster as:

Starters: 1) C Travis d’Arnaud 2) 1B Lucas Duda 3) 2B Neil Walker 4) SS Wilmer Flores 5) 3B David Wright 6) OF Michael Conforto 7) OF Yoenis Cespedes 8) OF Curtis Granderson

Bench: 9) OF Juan Lagares 10) OF Alejandro De Aza 11) C Kevin Plawecki 12) SS Ruben Tejada 13) IF/OF Eric Campbell

Rotation: 14) SP Matt Harvey 15) SP Jacob deGrom 16) SP Noah Syndergaard 17) SP Steven Matz 18) SP Bartolo Colon

Bullpen: 19) CP Jeurys Familia 20) RP Antonio Bastardo 21) RP Jerry Blevins 22) RP Addison Reed 23) RP Hansel Robles 24) RP Erik Goeddel 25) RP Sean Gilmartin

My prediction for the season is that we will win the NL East, and we will win the World Series. For the first time in a long time, Vegas doesn’t even consider that a bold prediction. The main reason for my confidence is obviously the starting pitching. It’s so elite. I don’t think a single team in the league can possibly match it. I think we are going to beat up on the weak NL East teams (Marlins, Braves, Phillies), and ultimately we will outplay the Nationals down the stretch, yet again. Are the Cubs better than they were last season? Yes. Am I afraid of the Cubs? No. We destroyed them in the NLCS and I am confident we can do it again. Pitching wins championships. Unfortunately in 2015, we got beat by experience. Now we have the pitching and the experience. I think the 2016 Mets are deep and built to overcome injuries. Sure we need to get lucky. You always need luck. But in 2016, I think we have about as good a chance as we’ve ever had to win it all. If the Mets have me feeling confident, I can only imagine how confident the players must be. And I think that confidence combined with the overall talent on the roster will bring us to the next level. But no matter what happens this season, as Opening Day approaches the 2016 Mets have me feeling as confident as former Jets LB Bart Scott. See you in Kansas City this April.

Weekly Roundup: The Big Guns Debut

The Big Guns Debut:  After holding them back for the first two weeks of Spring Training, the Mets finally unleashed the big guns. Harvey, deGrom, Thor, Matz and Big Sexy all toed the rubber this week and for the most part they looked great. Harvey and Thor were firing bullets and lighting up the radar guns. Matz and Colon looked really sharp getting their work in. deGrom seemed a tad rusty. But their performances this week are ultimately irrelevant. The bottom line is they are back.

Asdrubal Dead/Granderson Pink Eye Survivor: I wrote about the downfall of Asdrubal Cabrera on Friday. His patella is strained. He’s back in NYC getting treatment. So long Cabrera. He’s dead. Valar Morghulis. See you in two weeks aka six months. Curtis Granderson also somehow survived his battle with pink eye with his vision intact. Seven blessings to us!

Game Notes:

On Monday, the Mets played two split squad games. The Mets first squad won 7-3 over Detroit. Bartolo Colon, Josh Smoker, and Jeurys Familia all pitched well. The other squad lost 9-4 to the Cardinals. Steven Matz was nasty in his debut.

On Tuesday, the Mets lost 5-4 to the Braves. Matt Harvey hit 99 MPH in his spring fucking debut. Rafael Montero pitched like shit and got re-assigned to minor league camp this week. In the last 12 months, Montero’s arm has seemingly deteriorated. Oh well.

On Wednesday, the Mets tied the Yankees 4-4. Jacob deGrom got his work in and Antonio Bastardo blew the game. And the Grandyman returned.

On Thursday, the Mets won 7-2 over the Cardinals and Noah Syndergaard was fire. Ruben and the Benchwarmers shined. In fact Wilmer Flores, Juan Lagares, and Ruben really shined all week. This was the game where Asdrubal hurt his knee. He’s gone now. It was a pleasure knowing him.

On Friday, the Mets lost 9-5 to the Nationals. Matz pitched poorly on short rest and minor league mook Duane Below got rocked.

On Saturday, the Mets lost 14-9 to the Cardinals. It was the springiest spring game that ever sprang. Errors all over the place. Pitchers getting shelled. Stolmy Pimentel (he’s some Faceless Man on the Mets) hit Cardinal Stephen Piscotty on the forearm, and then umpire Angel Hernandez tossed him from the game because his next pitch was up and in. Angel Hernandez sucks. Also Jim Henderson pitched great. Really making a case for a spot in the pen.

The highlight of the game was when Keith Hernandez went on a rant about how great his vacation was going to be this week. Then he proceeded to leave the booth, and upon returning he announced to everyone that he went to the bathroom and got lost on his way back. Keith is in midseason form.

On Sunday, the Mets won 11-0 over the Marlins. Harvey was lights out through 4 innings. Familia was dominant in his inning of work. They were also in midseason form. Let’s just start the damn season already. Ruben was 2 for 3 with 3 RBIs. Just raking and daring the Mets to trade him. And on a related note Dilson Herrera fouled a ball off his knee and left the game limping. Another infielder bites the dust. Hopefully his flight to Panama City for the World Baseball Classic Qualifier is refundable #PrayforDilson.

Other Notes:

Cespedes Loves LF: Yoenis Cespedes this week said “If I had the choice, I would stay in left field. But I will play where the team needs me.” That was of course reported as “Cespedes prefers LF, Uncomfortable in CF”. Just remember the quote above when it’s thrown in his face later this season.

Mejia Conspiracy Plot Thickens: Jenrry Mejia held the much awaited “Steroid Conspiracy Theory” press conference with his lawyers. His legal team alleged MLB hacked Mejia’s social media accounts and blackmailed him in an effort to force him to turn in his supplier and other guilty players. They even alleged MLB said if Mejia didn’t turn in other players they’d “go out of their way” to find a 3rd positive test. Highlight quotes included:

Mejia: “In the name of God everything will be resolved.”

Lawyer: “This is dirty cop tactics. You can’t say I’ll take away your livelihood if you don’t turn other people in.”

Mejia: “My mother is a nurse. The first time I tested positive was when she injected me.”

MLB released a statement saying every word from Mejia and his legal team was BS. And I’m sure every word was. That being said, I’d love to see Mejia get vindicated like Ryan Braun only to return and test positive again immediately. Classic juicer tale.

Death to Depth: The cries from Mets reporters to cut Ruben Tejada, trade Alejandro De Aza, and demote Kevin Plawecki continued this week. I have no idea why. Sic semper altitudo! Death to depth! Say no to depth! Adam Rubin said we are looking to trade for a backup catcher. What? We aren’t confident in Johnny “Mr. Vegas” Monell? Vote Soup/Monell 2016! “Making the Mets Crappy Again!”

Weekly Roundup: Fun Time Is Over

red
Fun Time Is Over: Well all it took was a week dominated by the Yoenis Cespedes sports car collection, horse riding, and a Grand Champion Hog purchase for Terry to finally put his foot down. This week, Old Man Collins channeled his inner Red Forman and declared “fun time is over”. I completely agree that it’s time to focus on baseball. And nobody is actually mad at all the hilarious spring news that has dominated the headlines to date. But Terry is such an old man. Just so irritable. Ranting and raving. “Riding horses to camp! When I was stationed in Siberia, my unit survived off horse meat for a month,” and “Curtis has pink eye? In Korea we never got days off for pink eye. We got shot in the eye.” Classic old man routine. I love it.

Game Notes: The Mets actually kicked off their Grapefruit League schedule this week which should help to minimize the absurd headlines coming out of camp on a going forward basis.

On Thursday, the Mets lost to the Nationals 9-4 in the Daniel Murphy reunion game.  The only takeaway in that game was Rafael Montero pitched like shit. He was such a promising prospect who missed almost all of last season with mystery arm soreness. I really hope his arm recovers, and he can help out the big league team this season. So far he’s not off to a good start. Also, the day after the Mets faced everyone’s favorite homophobe Daniel Murphy, MLB’s Ambassador For Inclusion Billy Bean was invited to Mets camp to conduct his annual sensitivity training. Talk about perfect timing. Billy Bean said he had “communicated all throughout the year in a very supportive way” with Murphy. I wish Murphy’s phone and home were bugged so we could get our hands on those phone calls with Bean as well as Murph’s post call conversations with his wife. Yikes. I’m guessing he may have sugarcoated some conversation points with old Billy.

On Friday, the Marlins and Mets played to a 4-4 tie in a classic spring barn burner. Mets second base prospect and heir apparent Dilson Herrera had an inside the park home run. On Saturday, the Mets beat the Astros 3-1. First base prospect Dominic Smith had two nice hits including one long single that he chose to admire in the batters box. After the game, Terry threw out his metaphorical lunch Bobby Parnell style. On Sunday, the Mets beat the Braves 7-5. Sean Gilmartin had a strong start and Jim Henderson pitched a nice scoreless inning out of the pen. Henderson’s velocity looked good, and he’s a possible veteran candidate to make the pen out of spring. Alejandro De Aza also had a multi-hit game. That’s something we never said about Kirk Nieuwenhuis outside of his legendary 3 dinger performance.

Granderson’s Pink Eye and Wright’s Spine Update: On Monday February 29th, Curtis Granderson was declared “day to day” with pink eye. It is now Monday March 7th and Curtis hasn’t played in a game and is officially wearing glasses. Now I’m no doctor, but normally when a grade school child gets pink eye on a Monday, the kid is healthy and in school for an exam on Friday. Curtis sounds like he’s a few days away from a seeing eye dog and another week away from calling the Eye Bank of New York for a transplant. David Wright also hasn’t played in a game this spring. Still resting his spine for Opening Day #RestfortheCure

Plawecki to AAA Vegas?: Add a new story to the pile of fake news that Mets media has released this spring. First they made up rumors that the Mets will trade Alejandro De Aza in favor of…well in favor of nobody. Then the talk that Ruben Tejada could be released by the end of spring and Eric Campbell could make the team. And now there are talks that Kevin Plawecki may be sent to Vegas to start the season and lose the backup catcher job to…Johnny Monell? Maybe 2016 will be the year of spring catching scrub Raywilly Gomez? I love when these fake rumors are started about how the Mets might consider keeping a bad player over a good player to give the good one minor league reps, but then they ultimately keep the good one because the bad one is not a real viable alternative. Such a joke.

Utley Suspension Dropped: I wrote about the Chase Utley suspension being dropped yesterday. It’s a complete joke. Utley U Butt-ley.

Buttley

Mejia Conspiracy Theory: MLB’s new King of Banished Island Jenrry Mejia came out this week and said he was the victim of a conspiracy by MLB to banish him from the game. That’s right. Mejia hired a legal team, and they came up with the old “it’s a goddamn conspiracy” defense. Also, the New York Times published this picture below which says it was taken at his lawyer’s office. Mejia is seemingly being represented by the law firm of Dolce and Gabbana.

Mets Face Off Against Dan “The Ambassador of Inclusion” Murphy

Today, the Mets travel to Viera, Florida to take on Daniel Murphy and the Nationals in their Spring Opener. Murphy seemed excited about kicking off the Grapefruit League schedule against the Mets saying, “It should be fun tomorrow to really fire up baseball again.” When asked about his feelings on the New York media Murph said, “It’s not the first time I’ve spoken to the New York media. They treated me fairly. It would be good to see them again.”

However, the conversation turned serious when our favorite Christian fundamentalist Murphy was asked for his thoughts on Yoenis Cespedes and his recent purchase of a Grand Champion Pig at the St. Lucie County Fair. Murph denounced the actions of Cespedes saying, “The Bible is clear on this as Leviticus states: And the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divided, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.”

He also seemed concerned regarding the effect of Cespedes on his former teammate Noah Syndergaard. Although he struggled to name the specific biblical passage, he took some time to denounce Thor’s horse riding behavior stating, “I believe it is written man shall not ride with a horse; it is an abomination. Something like that.”

Pitching Matchup:

For the Mets, Rafael Montero will get the start. Montero was a top prospect before missing almost all of last season with a mysterious arm injury that was never really explained by the team at any point in time. Discomfort. He battled discomfort. I really hope the discomfort is gone.

And for the Nationals, we will see staff ace Max Scherzer. Beware the Eye of Scherzer.

Weekly Roundup: Everyone Is Still Alive

Everyone Is Still Alive: Well the first full week of Spring Training is in the books, and so far nothing has happened. And that is literally the best thing that could have happened for us. Other than Dan Warthen’s irritable bowel syndrome, everyone is still walking and breathing. Everyone keeps saying “I feel great”. Bartolo Colon is working out like a fiend and showing no sign of being 43 years old. Zack Wheeler had his first post Tommy John throwing session from a mound, and the 10 pitch session supposedly went well. Even David Wright is conducting interviews from an upright position despite his spinal column being more tangled than the Apple headphones in my jacket pocket. That being said, it’s best that we just avoid injury-related conversations. We can’t risk throwing off the delicate balance that has somehow been established in the Mets Universe. (Also, as I was typing this, Curtis Granderson inexplicably left camp in the middle of the day to go the doctor. Probably just going to the dermatologist to get a boil lanced. Nothing to worry about.)

The league also finally came out with the new slide rule this week. Read all about it in my post here. I doubt it will work because MLB has no clue what it wants. The rule sure as hell doesn’t ban takeout slides. So we’ll probably just watch more players get rocked and then here managers and players complaining about how the new rule makes things worse and needs to be repealed. Home plate collision protocol 2.0. Should be fun.

Bikes, Cars, and Helicopters: The only “meaningful” storyline in camp to date has been that Yoenis Cespedes has driven 500k worth of custom cars to Spring Training. The players love it. The beat reporters love it. I couldn’t care less. Cespedes said he used to ride a bike in Cuba, and he’s worked hard to have all these vehicles now. And I completely agree with him. He deserves every penny he’s made in the MLB. Show off your wealth Yo. I do think it’s a little ridiculous that Terry Collins had enough of a problem with Cespedes’ backwards hat that he brought it up to the media, but he hasn’t had much to say on the subject of “safe driving”. I don’t know, but maybe its worth advising your star hitter to be responsible behind the wheel of his race cars? I guess I just figured that would be something Terry might worry about. I assumed old people fear death.

Anyway, after all this car talk, I read yesterday that Dodger Yasiel Puig supposedly inquired about buying a helicopter to fly to Dodger stadium in an effort to avoid the LA highway traffic. And of course, the idea was squashed because it’s banned by federal law. You have to love this move by Yasiel Puig though. The team asks him to mature this offseason and be less of a distraction. And he responds by asking them if he can park his helicopter in the general admission lot at Dodger Stadium essentially confirming that he has no idea what the word “distraction” actually means.

Soup for Everyone: This week Terry Collins said Eric Campbell has a “very legitimate” chance of making the team. I completely agree with the notion that our roster would be better off with a good bench player that has experience at 1B, 3B and corner OF. But I honestly think we’d be better off adding the equipment manager to the roster over Soup. Soup getting a significant number of ABs due to other injuries was a major reason we struggled so much offensively last season. I started to look up his 2015 splits to try and offer some explanation of how he could help the team, and then I remembered he hit .197 last season and I decided to go on living my life.

Tejada Free Agency Gift: Ruben Tejada was supposed to be under Mets control for the 2016 and 2017 season. However, he only needed one additional day of service time to be eligible for free agency after the 2016 season. So the Mets gave him the extra day as part of his recent arbitration settlement. That’s really generous of the Mets organization. Oh and then we promptly announced that Eric Campbell may make the team over him in 2016. So if things go well for Ruben he may even get to be a free agent by the end of Spring Training when we release him. Hooray for Ruben! However it’s far more likely that he makes the team and gets rocked on another takeout slide in the first month or so.

Commissioner Goeddel and Utley Play 18 Holes: Mets pitcher Erik Goeddel told the Daily News that he recently played a round of gold with his brother Tyler (who just got selected in the Rule V Draft by the Phillies) and Mets nemesis Chase Utley. Apparently Chase recognized Tyler in the gym and asked to join the two brothers for their round. Not sure why Commissioner Goeddel decided to partake in this round. Spending 3 hours with someone you hate on a hot Florida golf course sounds like my version of a Guantanamo Bay interrogation session. Maybe Erik Goeddel was planning on driving the golf cart at maximum speed towards the water hazard, and then bailing at the last second only to watch Chase drown? Or maybe the brothers drove one car to the course and Chase being the dick that he is refused to give Tyler a ride home because his hotel was “a little out of the way”. Either way I am not a big fan of Commissioner Goeddel rubbing elbows with the enemy unless he has some ulterior motive. We shall see…

ForgeryGate: Wilpons At It Again

I figured it’s day three of spring training and the only Mets news would be about Big Sexy Bartolo Colon starring at the first teamwide workout while David Wright conducts interviews on the sideline from his massage chair. Nope. The Wilpons are back in the news again. Just another fraud related headline. But don’t worry. It has nothing to do with them at all. Some evil evil man has pled guilty to forgery and wire fraud as he allegedly forged the signature of Mets COO Jeff Wilpon as part of a scheme that cheated investors out of $3.5 million.

First off, how are the Wilpons still regularly convincing judges and juries and everyone that they’ve done absolutely nothing illegal when everything they touch turns to fraud? It’s mind blowing. At this point you would think the justice system’s mantra would be “innocent until proven Wilpon”. I mean when the Wilpons are even on the periphery of a financial related crime, wouldn’t the assumption be that every other party is innocent and the Wilpons have to be the mastermind?

Furthermore, authorities said the “guilty” man incorrectly spelled Jeff Wilpon’s first name on the forged documents which to me is an absolute dead giveaway that Jeff was actively involved in the scheme. As we all know, Jeff has never signed a document in his entire life. In fact, I am guessing this “guilty man” is just the person Jeff pays to rubber stamp all his legal documents. Obviously this time the man was out sick or something, and as a result Jeff had to personally sign these documents. He was probably just scribbling his nickname “Jeff” all over each page as his lackeys looked on and said, “Good job Jeff!! We are so proud of you.” Well either way as usual Jeff gets off scott free. Some minion in the Wilpon machine takes the fall for the big dogs yet again.

Speaking of Wilpons, paleontologists unearthed a full Fred Wilpon at Mets camp yesterday, one of the oldest owners to be discovered at Spring Training to date.