December 10, 2007

The Mets Are Still Relevant....So Stop Worrying So Much!

Throughout the year, we will run various contests with the winner(s) having a chance to write about their thoughts on our beloved Mets', to be posted on our site. We ran our first one this off-season, regarding A-Rod, and one of our winners, Daren Many, wrote the following article. Before reading it, we'd like to offer the following to Daren:

Daren: We wanted this on the site for everyone to read- we would like to officially welcome you into the Shea Nation family, and John will contact you shortly to set up your ability to write posts on our blog. Your article was excellent, (only 4 corrections!) and heartfelt, and we know that things will continue to get better for you as it will for our Mets, too. Welcome aboard and enjoy seeing your article posted- we enjoyed reading it, and am sure our readers will, too!!! (And I agree about Carlos Silva, if every other option has failed...)

Without further ado...

The Mets Are Still Relevant…So Stop Worrying So Much
By Daren Many (Contest Winner)

I have had some issues lately. We all have issues, but hear me out. The end of September I got laid off from my job. I’m a seasonal employee so it’s not that bad. I have time to read about the Mets all day and wonder if I should have gotten better grades in school. This is just the start. In the last couple of weeks I have broken up with my girlfriend of a year and a half. It was mutual but it’s still tough. I was rejected from graduate school (that’s were the better grades come in) and the house that I’m renting was just sold this month so I need to find a new place to live. So let’s revisit. No job, no girl, no shelter and sometimes I think no future. I feel like a Yankees fan. But all is well because I still have my Mets. This may not seem like much since we haven’t won a championship since I was six and I had to watch Roberto Alomar on my team in the 90’s but the real fans understand. No matter what happens we believe. Then I heard Omar traded Milledge for some guys from the Montreal Nationals and I wallowed back to the depths of my depression.

It’s ok though. Things aren’t as bad as they seem. Given time things will always turn around. We have a very promising team as it stands now. I’ve been reading a lot of negative things about how this off-season is shaking out. How our management has passed up opportunity after opportunity to bring in a legitimate number one starter. Let’s put it into perspective. Let’s say we don’t land that ace everyone wants. We still have a lot to be excited about and as a lifelong Mets fan that in itself is nice.

Infield: David Wright; Jose Reyes; Luis Castillo; Carlos Delgado. Looks good to me. My only real concern here is that Delgado may have reached old man status. My gut tells me that he will be close to normal this season but every player reaches a point of diminishing returns at some point in there career. Castillo still has the bothersome knees but I think we are all happy to have him back. He hits, he turns double plays and he wants to be in New York. Last year as we were in the middle of our historic collapse and I was wondering how God ended up being a Phillies fan I noticed in all the camera shots into our dugout Castillo seemed to be one of the only guys who was really pissed off. I knew then that I wanted him back. David Wright is awesome. He is the only guy that I would want to steal my girlfriend so I could maybe hang out with him. Jose had a really bad second half. Wow, it was hard to watch. He has so much talent though and he didn’t just lose it overnight. He will be fine and there will be more MVP talk next year.

Outfield: Moises Alou; Carlos Beltran; Ryan Church. I’m all right with it. When we first traded Milledge I like a lot of you was perplexed. He was so young and had so much upside. I’m still not completely sold on this move but I like Ryan Church. I have the same feeling about him as I had about Xavier Nady. I was sad to see Nady go but it ended up being one of Omar’s better moves so far. I think Church is going to give us solid defense, he is going to hit a bunch of doubles, he has some power and his hat will probably stay on. Carlos Beltran has just won another gold glove. That’s what you ultimately want from your center fielder. You want great defense first. I hate when I hear Yankees fan spout off about A-rod not being a “real” Yankee. Give me a break. But sometimes I get the feeling that Met fan doesn’t think of Beltran as a “real” Met. It’s a weird feeling that I can’t put my finger on but I personally love him. He made some tough catches down the stretch last year and he put up another solid offensive season. There isn’t another center fielder in baseball that I would rather have. I was very happy when Alou decided he wanted to come back. We already know he is probably going to miss about 50 games because he strains something the medical community didn’t even know existed but I wanted him back. There were stretches of the season last year where he was our undisputable MVP. I never really paid attention to him when he was in San Francisco but this guy can hit anything. He played a better defense than I thought and once again he wanted to come back to New York. This cant be understated. When guys want to come back and play for your team it makes the clubhouse strong. It makes guys want to play for each other and it leads to wins.

Catchers: Brian Schneider; Ramon Castro; Johnny Estrada. I have never heard so much complaining and whining as I have heard from people about our catching situation. We have three catchers right now. Big deal. We will be dumping Estrada and we will move on. It was a great move to get out from under Mota’s contract. I know why a lot of people are upset. It’s natural to want offense and we are just not going to get it with Schneider. We have been spoiled with all those great offensive years from Piazza. As fans we hate to look and see a hole in our lineup when we think someone like Estrada could put up better numbers. I understand this. I feel some of your pain. From what I have read Schneider calls a great game, he can throw out base stealers and pitchers like to work with him. This is way more important than the average fan understands. We all know how Reyes stealing bases upsets the rhythm of a pitcher. We saw it a lot the first half of last year. If you have a catcher who can limit this damage such as Schneider you can manage the game and put yourself into a better position to win. The only way a catcher justifies his worth on offensive merit over defense is if your name is Mike Piazza or Jorge Posada. Catcher is a defensive position and Schneider is a defensive catcher. Now stop complaining so much.

Bench: Damion Easley; Ruben Gotay; Marlon Anderson; Endy Chavez. I like this bench. All of these guys have produced and I expect more of the same for the upcoming season. I expect Omar is still looking around but I don’t see much movement here and I don’t think we need to over analyze a pretty good bench.

Bullpen: Billy Wagner; Aaron Heilman; Pedro Feliciano; Scott Schoenweis; Jorge Sosa; Duaner Sanchez; Joe Smith. Tom Verducci wrote a great article for Sports Illustrated (11/13/07) looking at Padre’s general manager Kevin Towers and his formula for building a cheap yet effective bullpen. San Diego does not hand out long term contracts to guys who happened to have a good season the year before. We need to think along the same lines. I was in favor of giving Billy Wagner a long term deal because he was a proven closer. A bullpen is a year to year project and should be pieced together accordingly. This doesn’t mean two year deals for guys like Mota and Schoenweis. What do we know about our bullpen right now? We know that when healthy Billy Wagner is still a very good closer. Aaron Heilman has proven to be reliable and durable. After that we aren’t really sure what were going to get. All of our relievers have shown flashes at times and moments of heartbreak on others. Willie Randolph stated last year on numerous occasions that he wanted to play the hot hand and use guys when he felt it was necessary. Billy Wagner has come out publicly and declared that the bullpen assignments need to be more defined. I have to agree with Billy on some level. Again, the more comfortable guys are the better they will perform. Nobody knew exactly what situation they would be in last year and I think that was part of the problem. It’s not a magical band aid though. We have some help coming in Sanchez and possibly Padilla but once again it’s such a role of the dice. It will be something the team will have to monitor all season long and make adjustments as necessary if guys aren’t pulling their weight. It’s the same way for most teams unless you get lucky. This is where Minaya is going to earn his paycheck.

Starting Pitchers: Pedro Martinez; Oliver Perez; John Maine; Orlando Hernandez; Mike Pelfrey. I don’t know what to think anymore. I’m exhausted by this whole subject. The winter meetings rumors and conjecture is an absolute joke. I love the off-season excitement and the hope of a new season on the horizon but to hear non stop talk of Dan Haren, Erik Bedard and Johan Santana has at times turned me off completely. There is still time for Omar to pull off a trade for one of these guys and I will be happy if he does. I’m just happy the winter meetings are over. I can’t stop thinking of the Red Sox and how they absolutely dominated starting pitching in the playoffs last year. It was amazing to watch. If you can get into the playoffs then anything can happen but my gut tells me we wont win a World Series anytime soon without an actual #1. I still think we have a nice rotation. Omar has been saying we can go into next season with the team we have now and we will be all right. Isn’t that what he said last year? Perez and Maine are great middle rotation guys. I think they learned a lot last season and I expect them to duplicate last year but I’m not ready to say there going to be number one type pitchers. Orlando Hernandez looks really good at times but like Alou you know he is going to be hurt. Pedro is very intriguing this season. He looked great the end of last year. Could he be our number one next year? It’s possible. He is Pedro so I wouldn’t put it past him. I can’t even comment on Pelfrey because I have no idea what were going to get with him or Philip Humber. Kevin Mulvey is also an intriguing option but a big unknown. A lot of you are going to disagree with me but I like Carlos Silva as far as free agents go. If we can’t bring in a top guy then I would like to see us go after Silva. He is only 28 and still has some upside. In four years with Minnesota he has pitched 180 innings or more twice and eclipsed the 200 inning mark twice including last year. His ERA has been middle of the road (career 4.31) but that would certainly drop in the National League. I just think he could be another Maine or Perez type guy on our staff. He would have an ERA around 4 and win around 15 games. He still isn’t the number one were looking for though but he could help. Unfortunately he will ask for way more than he is worth and he will probably get it.

So that’s our team right now whether you like it or not. There will be an attitude change next season and I think Willie learned a few things about being a manager. It will be interesting to see how the pitching shakes out the rest of the winter. I still think Omar has some tricks up his sleeve and may get us a number one starting pitcher yet. If not, we have a pretty good team and we’ll see what happens.

Since I started writing this my life has gotten a lot better (it takes me a while to write something). These things usually work out. I think the hard times in your life really help you in the long run. I think the Mets will do the same this season. We had to go through some hard times last year but they will be better off for it this season.


Anonymous said...

very well you guys cant criticize anything because it all has gone into this one post

Ryan said...

great article daren and i hope things start to turn around for you sooner than later

Anonymous said...

fresh meat!!!

Anonymous said...

i have got to get intothe next contest to see if i can score a position with you guys

Anonymous said...

i still wouldnt think about silva...besides i dont think hell be around for much longer

David Rubin & Jonathan Elfenbein said...

Anonymous...first of all, in order to win, you have to let us know who you are...second, if you think you have something you want to rant about or rave about, put it together, send it to the site, and we'll try to post it. If it's as good as most of your comments are, let's take it from there!

David Rubin & Jonathan Elfenbein said...

And yes, we CAN criticize things, because that's the nature of being a Mets' fan...LOL!!!

Tom Houston said...

yeah it would have been a good thing to put my name up there

John Young said...

Agreed David. As Mets fans there is always something going on with this team and we will never run out of topics to be up in arms about.

Karen W said...

Way to go Daren !!!! A true and Blue Mets Fan !! Awesome writing. Looking forward to more !!