Thursday, May 31, 2012

How The Mets Have Fared In Long Homestands

Last Thursday, the Mets began an 11-game homestand at Citi Field.  From May 24 through June 4, the three National League divisions are being represented in Flushing, as the San Diego Padres (four games), Philadelphia Phillies (three games) and St. Louis Cardinals (four games) are all taking their turns against the New York Mets.

The 11 games at Citi Field represent the longest homestand of the season, with only one other double-digit-game homestand scheduled to take place in Flushing (10 games, from September 17-27).

Usually, a team looks forward to long homestands.  In addition to the players being able to sleep in their own beds, they also anticipate friendly home crowds cheering them on to victory.  But has victory followed the Mets whenever they've played a minimum of ten consecutive home games?  We've consulted with our research department (that would be me) to see how the Mets have fared in long homestands over the years.

1962: (40-120 overall; 22-58 at home)
June 15-23: 11 games (3-8)
July 6-19: 12 games (3-9)
August 14-26: 15 games (3-12)
September 10-23: 11 games (4-7)
Total long homestand record: (13-36)
All other home games: (9-22)

1963: (51-111 overall; 34-47 at home)
April 29-May 12: 13 games (8-5)
May 28-June 11: 15 games (6-9)
July 5-18: 13 games (3-10)
August 6-18: 13 games (5-8)
Total long homestand record: (22-32)
All other home games: (12-15)

1964: (53-109 overall; 33-48 at home)
May 29-June 11: 14 games (6-7-1)
July 24-August 5: 13 games (5-8)
August 14-23: 11 games (7-4)
September 1-10: 11 games (4-7)
Total long homestand record: (22-26-1)
All other home games: (11-22)

1965: (50-112 overall; 29-52 at home)
May 4-16: 11 games (7-4)
June 28-July 10: 13 games (6-7)
August 20-September 2: 16 games (8-8)
Total long homestand record: (21-19)
All other home games: (8-33)

1966: (66-95 overall; 32-49 at home)
May 6-18: 11 games (5-6)
May 30-June 14: 19 games (7-12)
July 29-August 7: 11 games (4-7)
August 29-September 11: 13 games (4-9)
Total long homestand record: (20-34)
All other home games: (12-15)

1967: (61-101 overall; 36-42 at home)
May 19-28: 10 games (4-6)
June 26-July 9: 14 games (8-6)
August 4-13: 10 games (6-4)
Total long homestand record: (18-16)
All other home games: (18-26)

1968: (73-89 overall; 32-49 at home)
June 14-23: 11 games (6-5)
August 28-September 3: 10 games (3-6-1)
Total long homestand record: (9-11-1)
All other home games: (23-38)

1969: (100-62 overall; 52-30 at home)
June 20-29: 11 games (6-5)
July 24-August 3: 10 games (5-5)
August 16-24: 10 games (9-1)
Total long homestand record: (20-11)
All other home games: (32-19)

1970: (83-79 overall; 44-38 at home)
May 22-31: 11 games (6-5)
July 24-August 4: 12 games (7-5)
Total long homestand record: (13-10)
All other home games (31-28)

1971: (83-79 overall; 44-37 at home)
June 8-20: 13 games (7-6)
July 23-August 4: 14 games (6-8)
Total long homestand record: (13-14)
All other home games: (31-23)

1972: (83-73 overall; 41-37 at home)
May 5-18: 13 games (10-3)
May 30-June 11: 11 games (5-6)
July 29-August 6: 10 games (5-5)
Total long homestand record: (20-14)
All other home games: (21-23)

1973: (82-79 overall; 43-38 at home)
July 28-August 7: 14 games (7-7)
August 17-29: 13 games (8-5)
Total long homestand record: (15-12)
All other home games: (28-26)

1974: (71-91 overall; 36-45 at home)
June 27-July 10: 14 games (7-7)
Total long homestand record: (7-7)
All other home games: (29-38)

1975: (82-80 overall; 42-39 at home)
May 2-14: 10 games (4-6)
May 26-June 8: 13 games (8-5)
June 20-July 3: 15 games (7-8)
August 4-17: 15 games (7-8)
Total long homestand record: (22-21)
All other home games: (20-18)

1976: (86-76 overall; 45-37 at home)
April 26-May 9: 13 games (10-3)
Total long homestand record: (10-3)
All other home games: (35-34)

1977: (64-98 overall; 35-44 at home)
July 8-17: 10 games (6-4)
July 29-August 10: 12 games (6-6)
Total long homestand record: (12-10)
All other home games: (23-34)

1978: (66-96 overall; 33-47 at home)
May 29-June 11: 13 games (5-8)
July 19-26: 10 games (7-3)
August 11-23: 12 games (2-10)
Total long homestand record: (14-21)
All other home games: (19-26)

1979: (63-99 overall; 28-53 at home)
July 6-15: 11 games (6-5)
Total long homestand record: (6-5)
All other home games: (22-48)

1980: (67-95 overall; 38-44 at home)
June 3-15: 13 games (8-5)
July 1-13: 12 games (7-5)
August 14-27: 13 games (2-11)
Total long homestand record: (17-21)
All other home games: (21-23)

1981: (41-62 overall; 24-27 at home)
April 28-May 10: 13 games (4-9)
Total long homestand record: (4-9)
All other home games: (20-18)

1982: (65-97 overall; 33-48 at home)
May 6-19: 13 games (9-4)
July 2-11: 11 games (3-8)
Total long homestand record: (12-12)
All other home games: (21-36)

1983: (68-94 overall; 41-41 at home)
June 20-26: 10 games (5-5)
July 25-August 4: 11 games (6-5)
August 26-September 7: 14 games (6-8)
Total long homestand record: (17-18)
All other home games: (24-23)

1984: (90-72 overall; 48-33 at home)
April 27-May 10: 11 games (6-5)
May 22-June 3: 10 games (3-7)
June 28-July 8: 12 games (9-3)
August 24-September 2: 12 games (8-4)
Total long homestand record: (26-19)
All other home games: (22-14)

1985: (98-64 overall; 51-30 at home)
July 18-31: 14 games (9-5)
Total long homestand record: (9-5)
All other home games: (42-25)

1986: (108-54 overall; 55-26 at home)
July 3-13: 11 games (7-4)
August 29-September 10: 12 games (8-4)
Total long homestand record: (15-8)
All other home games: (40-18)

1987: (92-70 overall; 49-32 at home)
April 24-May 6: 11 games (5-6)
July 16-26: 11 games (6-5)
August 3-12: 10 games (7-3)
Total long homestand record: (18-14)
All other home games: (31-18)

1988: (100-60 overall; 56-24 at home)
May 24-June 5: 13 games (7-6)
September 12-22: 10 games (9-1)
Total long homestand record: (16-7)
All other home games: (40-17)

1989: (87-75 overall; 51-30 at home)
July 17-27: 11 games (6-5)
August 10-23: 14 games (9-5)
Total long homestand record: (15-10)
All other home games: (36-20)

1990: (91-71 overall; 52-29 at home)
May 2-12: 10 games (7-3)
August 7-16: 10 games (5-5)
September 10-20: 10 games (5-5)
Total long homestand record: (17-13)
All other home games: (35-16)

1991: (77-84 overall; 40-42 at home)
April 26-May 8: 10 games (5-5)
July 11-21: 11 games (7-4)
September 17-29: 12 games (6-6)
Total long homestand record: (18-15)
All other home games: (22-27)

1992: (72-90 overall; 41-40 at home)
June 12-25: 14 games (6-8)
July 16-26: 10 games (6-4)
Total long homestand record: (12-12)
All other home games: (29-28)

1993: (59-103 overall; 28-53 at home)
July 2-11: 11 games (4-7)
August 23-September 1: 10 games (4-6)
Total long homestand record: (8-13)
All other home games: (20-40)

1994: (55-58 overall; 23-30 at home)
July 15-24: 10 games (5-5)
Total long homestand record: (5-5)
All other home games: (18-25)

1995: (69-75 overall; 40-32 at home)
June 13-22: 10 games (3-7)
August 15-27: 12 games (8-4)
Total long homestand record: (11-11)
All other home games: (29-21)

1996: (71-91 overall; 42-39 at home)
July 11-21: 11 games (6-5)
Total long homestand record: (6-5)
All other home games: (36-34)

1997: (88-74 overall; 50-31 at home)
April 13-23: 11 games (5-6)
Total long homestand record: (5-6)
All other home games: (45-25)

1998: (88-74 overall; 47-34 at home)
July 9-21: 12 games (5-7)
July 28-August 6: 10 games (6-4)
August 18-24: 10 games (6-4)
Total long homestand record: (17-15)
All other home games: (30-19)

1999: (97-66 overall; 49-32 at home)
July 2-11: 10 games (5-5)
Total long homestand record: (5-5)
All other home games: (44-27)

2000: (94-68 overall; 55-27 at home)
April 18-27: 10 games (8-2)
June 20-July 2: 13 games (9-4)
Total long homestand record: (17-6)
All other home games: (38-21)

2001: (82-80 overall; 44-37 at home)
June 15-24: 10 games (4-6)
August 21-September 2: 13 games (9-4)
Total long homestand record: (13-10)
All other home games: (31-27)

2002: (75-86 overall; 38-43 at home)
June 14-26: 12 games (7-5)
July 22-August 5: 13 games (5-8)
Total long homestand record: (12-13)
All other home games: (26-30)

2003: (66-95 overall; 34-46 at home)
July 25-August 3: 10 games (3-7)
Total long homestand record: (3-7)
All other home games: (31-39)

2004: (71-91 overall; 38-43 at home)
April 12-22: 10 games (4-6)
July 15-25: 10 games (3-7)
August 23-September 2: 11 games (1-10)
Total long homestand record: (8-23)
All other home games: (30-20)

2005: (83-79 overall; 48-33 at home)
May 31-June 12: 12 games (6-6)
July 14-24: 10 games (7-3)
Total long homestand record: (13-9)
All other home games: (35-24)

2006: (97-65 overall; 50-31 at home)
No homestand longer than nine games

2007: (88-74 overall; 41-40 at home)
May 11-20: 10 games (7-3)
Total long homestand record: (7-3)
All other home games: (34-37)

2008: (89-73 overall; 48-33 at home)
No homestand longer than nine games

2009: (70-92 overall; 41-40 at home)
June 19-28: 10 games (4-6)
July 27-August 5: 10 games (5-5)
August 14-24: 11 games (4-7)
Total long homestand record: (13-18)
All other home games: (28-22)

2010: (79-83 overall; 47-34 at home)
April 19-28: 10 games (9-1)
September 10-19: 10 games (5-5)
Total long homestand record: (14-6)
All other home games: (33-28)

2011: (77-85 overall; 34-47 at home)
May 27-June 5: 10 games (5-5)
Total long homestand record: (5-5)
All other home games: (29-42) 

Totals through 2011:
Homestands of at least ten games: 109
Long homestands with a winning record (above .500): 48
Long homestands with a losing record (below .500): 44
Long homestands with a split record (at .500): 17
Overall record during long homestands: (628-625-2)
Overall record in all other home games: (1,404-1,316)

Looking at the numbers, we see that the Mets have had four more winning long homestands than losing long homestands.  But that doesn't necessarily mean that the Mets do better in longer homestands than they do in shorter ones.

Going into the 2012 season, the Mets' cumulative record during homestands of ten or more games was just barely above .500, while their record in all other home games that were not part of a long homestand was well over .500.

As of this writing (May 31), the Mets have a 16-11 record at Citi Field in 2012.  They are 4-3 during their current 11-game homestand.  However, they are 12-8 in all other home games.

Are longer homestands better than shorter ones for the Mets?  The results appear to be inconclusive.  But one thing's for sure.  A team that's at home for an extended period of time should always take
advantage of their fortunate schedule.  A handful of games above .500 over a 50-year time period does not exactly qualify as "taking advantage".

The Mets must learn to feast when they're given some home cooking.  Otherwise, they'll just be put to bed without before the dessert tray comes out.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Epic Phail

In the 1985 flick, Brewster's Millions, minor league baseball player Monty Brewster (played by the late, great Richard Pryor) is given 30 days to spend $30 million so that he can inherit $300 million from his recently deceased great-uncle. 

Fast forward 27 years later.

In 2012, the Philadelphia Phillies are spending $55,285,714 on the contracts of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay.  All Utley and Howard have done this year is collect their paychecks from the comfort of their injury rehab centers, while Roy Halladay ... well, he just joined them.

Earlier today, Roy Halladay was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right shoulder. However, he will be sidelined for far more than 15 days.  Phillies' assistant general manager Scott Proefrock stated that Halladay will miss six-to-eight weeks.  Halladay will be completely shut down for three weeks, then will spend the rest of his time on the DL working his way back into the Phillies' rotation.  In all likelihood, he will not return to the majors until after the All-Star Break.

Philadelphia has won five consecutive division titles, beginning in 2007, when Jimmy Rollins proclaimed the Phillies as the team to beat.    Now it seems the Phillies are no longer the team to beat, but the beaten team.  They have been in last place or next-to-last every day since April 17 and at no point this year have they been ahead of the Mets in the standings.  Halladay's absence will make it all the more tougher for them to climb out of the bottom half of the NL East.

In 2009, the Mets were plagued with injuries and they finished below .500 for the first time since 2004.   Phillies fans (the ones who hid from the ballpark prior to 2007) made fun of the Mets' maladies and told Mets fans to stop using the injuries as an excuse for their team's failures.  The tables have now been turned.

It's never a good thing to root for an injury to a player, but it sure feels sweet to see the Phillies going through what the Mets have been through for the past three seasons, especially with the Mets hanging around the top of the division while the Phillies languish at the bottom.

Shane Victorino, watch your back.  Then again, maybe you shouldn't.  You might end up straining your neck doing so.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Song Parody: Will R.A. Dickey "Smash Mouth" His Way To Being An "All-Star"?

R.A. Dickey is having a tremendous season for the New York Mets.  With the help of his trusty knuckleball, Dickey has fluttered his way to a 7-1 record, helping the Mets remain in contention in the uber-competitive National League East.

His start has caused some people to ask if Dickey should be rewarded with his first selection to the National League All-Star team.  I don't get to vote on that since I'm not a player, coach or manager.  But I do get to write song parodies on the topic.  (And I recommend that all players, coaches and managers keep their day jobs, as they should just not join me in the song parody business.  That's my thing.  You keep spitting out sunflower seeds and grabbing your crotches, as that's what you have experience in.)

Do you remember a little ditty by Smash Mouth from 1999 called "All-Star"?  Sure you do.  After all, it was absolutely everywhere then.  When you weren't "Livin' La Vida Loca" watching the Mets during their unforgettable 1999 season, you were humming the chorus to "All-Star".  (You better not have been humming "Summer Girls" by LFO.  LFO was LFAwful...)

So in honor of R.A. Dickey's outstanding start to the 2012 campaign, I present to you a reworking of "All-Star" by Smash Mouth.  It's not a true song parody.  Consider it an homage, if you will.  An homage to the classic song and to R.A. Dickey's classic performances on the mound.  I'm not even giving it a title.  Just enjoy it for what it is, a tribute to a great song and a great pitcher.

Somebody once told him he doesn't have an ulnar
The ligament that all pitchers have
It cost him a big bonus, so then he put the onus
On getting to the big leagues himself

Well, the years kept tickin', and he wasn't stickin'
He changed teams more than Wade Boggs ate chicken
Didn't make sense but he was having fun
His brain was smart and he wasn't done

So much to do, so much talent
So why couldn't he throw strike three?
The knuckler was the way to go
If he was to stay in the show

Hey now, he's an All-Star, got his game on, R.A.!
Hey now, he's a rock star, and now he's gettin' paid
All that flutters is gold
Dig those nails in and break the mold

New York's a cool place, but with him, it's just cooler
His knuckleball's floatin', it's quite the hitter fooler
But if any of them beg to differ
He'll wipe them up like a human Swiffer

The ice in his veins will never get thin
No one else used the Missouri for a swim
He won't yet retire, so come get yours
That's the way he likes it and he's ready for more

Hey now, he's an All-Star, got his game on, R.A.!
Hey now, he's a rock star, and now he's gettin' paid
All that flutters is gold
Dig those nails in and break the mold

Hey now, he's an All-Star, got his game on, R.A.!
Hey now, he's a rock star, and now he's gettin' paid
All that flutters is gold
He's a knuckle-star...

Somebody once asked if he'd throw a hitter gas
He said "I do when they lean over the plate"
They said "Yep.  I can accept
That you'd want the inner half for yourself
Or else you'd get hit all over the pla-a-a-a-ace."

Well, the years stopped tickin', and now he's stickin'
He not changing teams, but Boggs still eats chicken
Now it makes sense; he's still having fun
His brain's still smart; he still isn't done

So much to do, so much talent
Now he can't stop throwing strike three
The knuckler was the way to go
Now he's a fixture in the show!

Hey now, he's an All-Star, got his game on, R.A.!
Hey now, he's a rock star, and now he's gettin' paid
All that flutters is gold
Dig those nails in and break the mold

All that flutters is gold
Dig those nails in and break the mold...

Is R.A. Dickey An All-Star?

Photo by Ed Leyro/Studious Metsimus (Yeah, that's right.  I took it.  Not bad, huh?)

On Sunday, R.A. Dickey pitched 7 innings of shutout ball against the Padres, allowing three hits, walking one and striking out ten batters.  The 10-K performance gave Dickey 29 strikeouts over his last three starts (20 IP).  It also helped in lowering his ERA to 3.06, a number Dickey had not seen since his sole bad start of the year in rain-soaked Atlanta on April 18.  On that day, a day in which Dickey admitted the weather conditions made it seem like he was throwing "a wet water balloon", the knuckleballer allowed eight runs in 4⅓ innings, ending his streak of consecutive quality starts at 14.

Since his damp debacle against the Braves, Dickey has been magnificent.  He has made seven consecutive quality starts, giving him 21 in his last 22 starts.  In those seven quality starts, he has a 2.09 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and opponents are batting a measly .193 against him.  The most important number in Dickey's line is the big fat zero in the loss column since April 18.  Over the past six weeks, Dickey is 5-0, helping the Mets improve to a season-high six games over .500.

For the season, Dickey is 7-1 with a 3.06 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 64⅔ innings.  His seven wins tie him with Gio Gonzalez, Cole Hamels, Lance Lynn and former Met teammate Chris Capuano for first place in the National League, as does his .875 winning percentage.  Dickey is also ninth in the NL in innings pitched and eighth in strikeouts.  He is also an excellent fielder, as evidenced by his 16 assists in ten starts.  This is nothing new, as Dickey led the league in assists by a pitcher in 2011 and was second in 2010.  He is currently third in the National League in assists by a pitcher, picking up his 16th assist on Sunday after making a beautiful diving stop to his right on a ground ball by Chase Headley.

Given all this data, the question must be asked.  Should R.A. Dickey represent the National League in the 2012 All-Star Game?

Every team must be represented by at least one player, but David Wright's scalding start has pretty much made him a lock for the All-Star team.  Therefore, Dickey would probably not be chosen because he "has to be" chosen as the Mets' sole representative.  He would have to earn his spot on the roster.

Looking at his numbers, you would think that he already has earned a spot on the roster.  Seven wins, 61 strikeouts, low ERA, low WHIP.  That just screams All-Star, right?  Not so fast.

Two years ago, Mike Pelfrey pitched seven shutout innings against the Phillies on May 27 (the same date Dickey pitched 7⅓ shutout innings against the Padres this year).  After Pelfrey's masterpiece, his record improved to (you guessed it) 7-1, the same record Dickey has on the same date Pelfrey had it in 2010.

But Pelfrey didn't fall off the face of the Earth after improving to 7-1.  In fact, on June 25, 2010, he defeated the Minnesota Twins in an interleague matchup to improve to 10-2.  He was also the proud owner of a spiffy 2.71 ERA.  Please note that June 25 was only two weeks before pitchers were to be selected for the All-Star Game by players, coaches and managers (fans do not participate in the pitcher selection process).  Pelfrey did not make the All-Star team in 2010, despite his outstanding first-half performance.

Pelfrey isn't alone in recent All-Star snubbery.  (Yes, I just made up that word.  What are you going to do, kick me off the All-Star team?)  In 2007, John Maine won his first five decisions and was 10-4 with a 2.71 ERA on July 5.  Just like Pelfrey, he also did not make the National League All-Star team.

So where does that leave Dickey?  If I had a vote, I'd give it to the Mets' resident knuckleballer.  But I don't have a vote.  And the people who do have a plethora of choices amongst pitchers.

There are currently ten pitchers in the National League with an ERA of 2.50 or less.  Dickey is still above 3.00.  Seven pitchers in the National League have a WHIP of 1.00 or less.  Dickey is just barely below 1.10 (1.098, to be exact).  And some players, such as Houston's Brett Myers (12 saves, 1.59 ERA, 0.82 WHIP), might "have to be" chosen before a player like Dickey is.  No other Astro hitter or pitcher is having an All-Star caliber season, so Myers might force his way onto the team as the sole Astros' representative, taking a roster spot away from another deserving candidate, someone like R.A. Dickey.

If R.A. Dickey is going to become a first-time All-Star in 2012, he's going to have to keep pitching the way he has since his one poor outing in Atlanta.  He'll need to get his ERA below 3.00.  He'll need to continue striking out batters.  He'll need to keep piling on the wins.  Then again, as recent history shows with Met pitchers, that doesn't guarantee anything when it comes to making the All-Star team.  To me, R.A. Dickey is an All-Star in 2012.  Let's hope the players, managers and coaches feel the same way.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Joey's Post Game: Shuttin' 'Em Out & Sluggin' 'Em Out

Today, I had the pleasure of attending the Mets game against the San Diego Padres.  As you can see from the photo to the left, I had great seats so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to attend the game.  Plus, it was Rusty Staub Bobblehead Day at Citi Field.  How could I miss that, especially since Rusty Staub has had a dual career I'd love to have, going from being an outstanding baseball player to becoming a successful restaurateur?  (Side note:  I know Citi Field already has Blue Smoke, but they really need a "Rusty's Ribs" stand, similar to Camden Yards' "Boog's BBQ" joint.)

Before my mind starts to wonder and I start talking about food, let's move on to the game recap, a game that featured Johan Santana's finest start since returning from his year-long injury sabbatical and a surprising display of power from unexpected sources.

The Mets jumped out to an early lead on the Padres, scoring four first-inning runs off starter Clayton Richard.  The big blow came off the bat of Scott Hairston, who launched a three-run homer into the Party City Deck.  Two batters later, Vinny Rottino gave another souvenir to the party people in the house.  His first big league homer in 241 career at-bats gave the Mets and Johan Santana a 4-0 lead.

It wasn't the first time the Mets gave Santana an early 4-0 lead, as just last Monday, Santana was spotted a four-run lead, only to give it all back to the Pirates in a game the Mets eventually lost, 5-4.  Needless to say, I wasn't as confident as I'd normally be in a Santana start.  Before too long, Johan gave me all the confidence I needed.

 Johan Santana pees excellence.  He also throws a wicked changeup.

Through the first six innings, Santana allowed only two hits, all while maintaining a low pitch count.  No Padre batter reached second base until the seventh inning, but by then, Santana had already declared himself as San Diego's padre.

Despite Santana's dominance, the Mets were unable to extend their 4-0 lead.  That all changed in the eighth inning.

First, Ike Davis continued to show signs of breaking out of his slump, lacing an RBI double to center off former Met Dale Thayer.  Then Mike Nickeas came to the plate.  Prior to his eighth inning at-bat, Nickeas was the proud owner of 20 major league hits and a .230 career slugging percentage.  Both numbers ranked behind his battery mate, Johan Santana, who had 38 career hits and a .240 lifetime slugging percentage entering today's game.

But with one swing of the bat, Nickeas put the final nail in the Padres' coffin, blasting a grand slam to left to give the Mets a 9-0 lead.  It was the first grand slam at Citi Field since August 1, 2009, when Angel Pagan slammed the Diamondbacks with a four-run blast.  (Coincidentally, that was the first post-game recap I ever did for this site, which you can read by clicking here.)

Mike Nickeas hits a slam, then gets slammed with a shaving cream pie to the face after the game.

Nickeas' blast was the salsa on the chicken nachos, putting the kibosh on the San Diego Padres.  All that was left was one more inning by Johan Santana, who was looking for his first shutout since August 2010.  Three Friars up, three Friars down, and with only 96 pitches, Santana's shutout victory was complete.

The Mets slugged three home runs today, accounting for eight of the nine runs scored against the Padres.  At the same time, Johan Santana shut down what passes for San Diego's offense, keeping them off the scoreboard without breaking a sweat on a sweltering day at the ballpark.  The Mets were shuttin' 'em out and sluggin' 'em out today at Citi Field.  What a great day to be a Mets fan!

If David Wright Is No. 1, Then Who's No. 2?

Even the most casual of Mets fans could probably tell you that David Wright's name is plastered all over the team's all-time leader board in various categories.  If he's not already the franchise leader in an offensive category (doubles, extra-base hits, total bases, times on base, RBI), he should be there by the end of the season (hits, runs scored).

Obviously, if Wright's name is all over the team's all-time record book, then it stands to reason that he is the current team leader in most, if not all, offensive categories.  But have you ever wondered which of the current Mets is second to Wright in those categories?  Well, that's what we're here for.

Get ready to be surprised, amazed, and in some rare cases, disgusted.  We're about to delve into the stat book to find out which current Mets are second to David Wright on the team in a plethora of the cumulative offensive categories.  We'll list the stat, David Wright's current number in that stat, and follow that up with which Met would be leading the team in that category if Wright were not on the current team.

But why stop there?  Let's add the players who are third through fifth in each category as well.  Fasten your seat belt.  It might be a bumpy ride.

David Wright is looking up here, but his teammates are looking up at him on the leader board.

Games Played:
David Wright - 1,148
Daniel Murphy - 359
Jason Bay - 233
Josh Thole - 230
Ike Davis - 227

David Wright - 4,312
Daniel Murphy - 1,208
Jason Bay - 842
Ike Davis - 801
Josh Thole - 676

David Wright - 1,308
Daniel Murphy - 354
Jason Bay - 211
Ike Davis - 202
Josh Thole - 187

David Wright - 297
Daniel Murphy - 88
Ike Davis - 45
Jason Bay - 41
Ruben Tejada - 37

David Wright - 18
Daniel Murphy - 9
Jason Bay - 7
Lucas Duda - 3
Various - 2 (Mike Baxter, Ike Davis, Scott Hairston, Josh Thole)

Home Runs:
David Wright - 188
Ike Davis - 31
Jason Bay - 21
Daniel Murphy - 20
Lucas Duda - 19

The names on the backs of those uniforms look awfully familiar.  Have I seen them somewhere else?

Stolen Bases:
David Wright - 155
Jason Bay - 22
Daniel Murphy - 11
Ruben Tejada - 8
Justin Turner - 8

Runs Scored:
David Wright - 729
Daniel Murphy - 152
Jason Bay - 115
Ike Davis - 105
Ruben Tejada - 73

Runs Batted In:
David Wright - 753
Daniel Murphy - 146
Ike Davis - 115
Jason Bay - 109
Lucas Duda - 86

Bases on Balls:
David Wright - 565
Jason Bay - 106
Ike Davis - 100
Daniel Murphy - 95
Josh Thole - 75

David Wright - 924
Jason Bay - 217
Ike Davis - 213
Daniel Murphy - 164
Lucas Duda - 120

Overheard on the mound: "I wonder what it'll take for us to overtake David Wright on all these lists."

David Wright is everywhere on the Mets' leader board.  But as you can see, none of the current Mets are anywhere near him in any of the offensive categories.  In fact, some players with barely more than one year experience in the major leagues rank in the top five, but they aren't even visible in Wright's rear view mirror.

Without a doubt, David Wright is the face of the franchise.  But can you imagine what the team would look like without him?  Who would the face of the team be among hitters?  Daniel Murphy?  Ike Davis?  Jason (gulp!) Bay?

The Mets should make every effort to sign David Wright to a contract extension.  If not, the team might be a faceless bunch for years to come.

David Wright Is Not The Only Met Approaching Team Milestones

Recently, David Wright passed Jose Reyes to move into second place on the Mets' all-time hits list.  As of this writing, Wright has 1,308 hits, leaving him 110 hits short of franchise leader Ed Kranepool.  With 116 games left in the season, Wright stands a good chance to surpass Kranepool before the season ends on October 3.

Wright is already the team leader in doubles, extra-base hits, total bases, times on base, and runs batted in.  He also is set to pass Jose Reyes in runs scored shortly, as he is currently only six runs behind his former infield mate.

Assuming Wright signs a contract extension with the Mets, he will probably lead the Mets in most offensive categories by the time he plays his final game for the team, making him a true Mr. Met.  But David Wright isn't the only player on the Mets right now who is moving up the team's all-time leader board.  In honor of the team's 50th anniversary season, let's take a look at current Mets players who rank in the club's all-time top 50 in various hitting and pitching categories.  I'm sure some of these players might surprise you.

  • Batting average (min. 1,000 AB): Daniel Murphy (.293, 5th all-time)
  • Doubles: Daniel Murphy (88, 37th all-time)
  • Triples: Daniel Murphy (9, T-44th all-time)
  • ERA (min. 500 IP): Johan Santana (2.88, 3rd all-time)
  • WHIP: Johan Santana (1.178, 6th all-time)
  • Games pitched: Bobby Parnell (197, 23rd all-time)
  • Games started: Mike Pelfrey (149, 13th all-time)
  • Wins: Mike Pelfrey (50, 15th all-time), Johan Santana (41, T-20th all-time), Jonathon Niese (25, T-36th all-time), R.A. Dickey (25, T-36th all-time)
  • Saves: Frank Francisco (12, 20th all-time)
  • Innings pitched: Mike Pelfrey (896.1, 15th all-time), Johan Santana (650.0, 24th all-time)
  • Strikeouts: Johan Santana (549, 17th all-time), Mike Pelfrey (506, T-19th all-time), Jonathon Niese (359, 37th all-time), R.A. Dickey (289, 42nd all-time)

As you can see, the only hitter currently in the top 50 in any other batting categories other than David Wright is Daniel Murphy.  But virtually the entire starting staff, including the injured Mike Pelfrey finds themselves all over the team's all-time leader board in various pitching categories.

Also, for a team that has boasted a number of quality relief pitchers, like Tug McGraw, Jesse Orosco, Roger McDowell, John Franco, Armando Benitez (don't laugh) and Billy Wagner, it's kind of surprising that in less than two months, Frank Francisco has already cracked the top 20 in saves.

The Mets might not have the history of the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers or Giants, but they do have a history.  And as you can see, many of the players on the 2012 team are in the process of making some history of their own.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Why The Ike Davis Decision Must Be Made By Thursday

As Chumbawamba once sang, "Ike gets knocked down, will he get up again?"

It's no secret that Ike Davis' hold on the everyday first baseman's job is in serious jeopardy.  In 137 at-bats this season, Davis is the owner of a .161 batting average and .218 on-base percentage.  That's nowhere near the production expected of a starting first baseman.  In fact, it's more in line with R.A. Dickey's career numbers at the plate.  (Dickey has a .191 batting average and .221 on-base percentage over 131 lifetime at-bats.)

But if the Mets are going to make a decision on whether or not to demote Davis to the minor leagues, they should do it before the team returns to Citi Field on Thursday.  A quick look at the home/road splits will explain the urgency behind this decision.

While wearing his road grays in 2012, Ike Davis has batted .240 (18-for-75) with a .288 on-base percentage.  Although those numbers aren't great, they're not worthy of a demotion.  In fact, despite Davis' season-long slump, his slugging percentage on the road (.488) is actually higher than the .460 career mark he posted through 2011.  (All of his team-leading five home runs in 2012 have come on the road.)  But his home numbers tell another story.

In 20 games at Citi Field this year (17 starts), Davis is batting .065.  That's ZERO-six-five.  Davis has collected four hits in 62 at-bats at home.  By comparison, Ruben Tejada also collected four hits at Citi Field ... on April 8 alone!

In addition to his poor batting average, Davis also has a .134 on-base percentage and a .081 slugging percentage at Citi Field.  In Davis' defense, his .065/.134/.081 line is quite similar to that of another long-time Met.  Of course, that long-time Met was Al Leiter.  (In 394 at-bats with the Mets, Leiter fashioned a .084/.145/.107 line.)

So why should the Mets make their decision on whether or not to banish Ike Davis to the minor leagues before Thursday?  Because Thursday marks the beginning of a season-long 11-game homestand.  Also, starting on Thursday, the Mets will play 20 of their next 29 games at Citi Field.  That's the same number of games that Ike Davis has already participated in at Citi Field this year to register his anemic batting line.

To demote or not to demote?  That is the question surrounding Ike Davis.  He has two games left at PNC Park to turn things around.  If he doesn't, the Pittsburgh-to-Buffalo shuttle might be his next mode of transportation after Wednesday's game.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Of Multi-Run Homers And Mets

There has been much talk about the failures of the Mets' bullpen this year.  Although it is true that most of the bullpen has underachieved, save for Bobby Parnell and Tim Byrdak, I'm not placing all the blame on the relievers.  In fact, it's not WHO is giving up the runs, but WHEN and HOW they're being given up.  Let me explain what I mean.

In 2011, Mets pitchers (starters and relievers) allowed 147 home runs.  Here is the breakdown of those homers:

  • Solo homers: 94 (63.9% of all homers hit producing 94 runs)
  • Two-run homers: 34 (23.1%, 68 runs scored)
  • Three-run homers: 16 (10.9%, 48 runs scored)
  • Grand slams: 3 (2.0%, 12 runs scored) 
  • Total homers: 147 (producing 222 runs, an average of 1.51 runs scoring on each homer)

Now let's do a similar breakdown for 2012.  In the season's first 41 games, the Mets have allowed 44 home runs.  The results are quite different, especially the percentages and the runs scored per homer.

  • Solo homers: 18 (40.9% of all homers hit producing 18 runs)
  • Two-run homers: 16 (36.4%, 32 runs scored)
  • Three-run homers: 7 (15.9%, 21 runs scored)
  • Grand slams: 3 (6.8%, 12 runs scored)
  • Total homers: 44 (producing 83 runs, an average of 1.89 runs scoring on each homer)

In 2011, the majority of the homers given up by Mets pitchers were of the solo variety.  This year, almost 60% of home runs allowed have come with men on base.  That means more runs are coming via the homer and the opposition is putting up more crooked numbers on the scoreboard.

But it's not just the abundance of base runners scoring on balls that leave the yard that's troubling to me.  It's when these blasts are occurring.  Let's look at 2011 vs. 2012 and compare the home runs hit in each season, looking specifically at the number of outs in the inning at the time the home runs were hit.

2011: 147 home runs allowed
  • No outs: 48 HR
  • One out: 64 HR
  • Two outs: 35 HR

2012: 44 home runs allowed
  • No outs: 13 HR
  • One out: 14 HR
  • Two outs: 17 HR

As you can see, in 2011, Mets pitchers were especially stingy with the long ball when they were one out away from ending the inning.  The exact opposite has been true in 2012, as opposing hitters have been more likely to hit home runs as the inning progresses.

The 2012 Mets have been at or above .500 all year.  But looking at the pitching stats above, if things don't change soon with regards to home runs allowed, the Mets might be on the south side of .500 before long.  Giving up too many home runs with men on base and allowing home runs with two outs will tend to do that to a team.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Joey's World Tour: Weekend In Toronto

Hey, buddy!  This is Joey Beartran, fresh off a trip where I went north of the border to Canada - Toronto, to be precise.  Although my Studious Metsimus colleague didn't make the trip (he says he didn't have a passport; I think he was just afraid the Jason Bay fan club would come after him for all the negative posts he's written about him over the years), I was able to attend the series, bringing my ace reporter skills with me.

First, let's talk about the trip itself.  I flew into Buffalo, where I was supposed to take a bus to Toronto.  That didn't exactly work out as planned, as the driver of the bus must not have known he was supposed to leave at the time on the schedule.  Dang metric system.  (Yes, I know the metric system has nothing to do with time, but I just wanted to blame it for something.)

Fortunately, I had a friend in Canada, Mr. Ray Stilwell, who drove me to Toronto so I could make it to Saturday's game on time.  I also met a new bear in the Mets community, Megabuster Bison, who looked like he'd be ready to come into the game the next time Terry Collins picked up the bullpen phone (see photo below).

J.B. and M.B. (and a salt shaker)

Before making our trek to Toronto, we stopped for breakfast, where I sampled some delicious apple pancakes and blueberry pancakes.  After all, just like a certain brand of potato chip, I can't have just one type of pancake.  (Actually, that pretty much applies to all food.  I can't have just one of anything.)

After stuffing my face, we drove around Lake Ontario (mainly because I can't swim) and headed north to Toronto, where we stopped outside the Hockey Hall of Fame and then headed to the ballpark formerly known as the Skydome.

Now named the Rogers Centre, the Mets were making their fourth trip to that ballpark.  Although the Mets have never lost to the Blue Jays in New York - going 9-0 in three home series against Toronto - on the road, it's a different story.  After Friday night's 14-5 annihilation at the hands of the Blue Jays, the Mets were just a .500 team at the Skydome/Rogers Centre.  I thought my presence at the ballpark would push the Mets back over .500 in Toronto.  I thought wrong.

Apparently, my presence at the ballpark wasn't even enough to impress the Blue Jays' mascot, Ace.

Brandon Morrow, who had only pitched two shutouts in 79 career starts, blanked the Mets over nine innings.  Of course, he needed some assistance from the second base umpire, who blew a call on what should have been a Mike Baxter double in the ninth inning.  Had the right call been made, the Mets would have had the tying runs in scoring position with one out and Daniel Murphy coming to bat.  Daniel Murphy still batted, but it was with two outs and only one runner on base.  Unfortunately, I did not know the Canadian equivalent of 911, or else I would have called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to investigate the robbery that took place at second base.

So the Mets dropped to 5-6 all-time in Toronto after their 2-0 loss.  Sigh.  However, they did win the series finale to move back to the break-even mark at the Rogers Centre, surviving another uneven effort by Frank Francisco.  Of course, by then, we had already crossed back into the States and didn't get to witness it firsthand.

Okay, that was the game recap.  Now it's time to take off my reporter's cap and put on my culinary expert cap.  Besides, you're really more interested in seeing the food photos then reading about a shutout loss, eh?  (Sorry, I'm still in Canadian-speak mode.)  Here they are!

Top photo: Apple pancakes and a shameless plug of Faith and Fear in Flushing on Ray's shirt.  Second photo: Blueberry pancakes with powdered sugar.  They were absolutely scrumtrillescent.  Third photo: Poutine, a Canadian delicacy.  It's actually french fries with cheese curds and gravy.  Bottom photo: They have chicken nachos in Canada!  (And service line signs to avoid confusion.)

Overall, I enjoyed my first road trip outside the United States.  The food was excellent, as always, but the baseball left a little to be desired.  I also wasn't too impressed with the Rogers Centre, as it doesn't have the charm some of the other ballparks I've visited have, such as PNC Park, AT&T Park and Camden Yards.  It's got a hotel in the outfield.  That's it.  I almost expected an usher to say "move along, nothing to see here" as I was making my way around the ballpark to see if there was anything else worth seeing.

I was also looking for the CN Tower while I was at the ballpark, but I couldn't find it.  I mean, it's the tallest structure in the country, so I thought it would be impossible to miss.  Oh, well.  There's always next time.

 I didn't find the CN Tower, but I did find a great place to shade myself from the sun.

That's all for this chapter in the never-ending Joey's World Tour.  I hope you enjoyed being part of my latest baseball stadium trip.  If everything goes as planned (unlike that early morning bus trip out of Buffalo), I should be making trips to Tampa, Phoenix and Milwaukee later this year, where I hope to bring you more news and nuggets from those cities' ballparks (including which ballpark has the shortest chicken nacho line). 

Hope you enjoyed your virtual tour of Toronto and the Rogers Centre.  Until next time, keep believing in your team and let's go Mets!  See you on the road!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I Have The Solution To The Mets' Bullpen Problem!

After the Mets' meltdown across the border in Toronto, where they allowed 14 runs to the Blue Jays (including six more runs given up by the bullpen), the team decided a change needed to be made.  As per ESPNNewYork's own Adam Rubin, the Mets are expected to call up Jeremy Hefner to fortify their tattered bullpen.  Although the Mets have made no formal announcement of this transaction as of this writing, the prime candidate for demotion/release/being sent to the principal's office is Manny Acosta (although the team is leaning toward demoting Jordany Valdespin and his "I own Jonathan Papelbon" shirt).

Acosta allowed five runs to the Blue Jays last night in two innings of so-called "work".  For the season, Acosta has allowed 27 runs (23 earned) in 19 innings.  He has allowed more runs than any pitcher on the Mets' staff except Dillon Gee.  Yes, you read that correctly.  A relief pitcher is second on the team in runs allowed.  R.A. Dickey, who has thrown 30 innings more than Acosta, has allowed five fewer runs (two fewer earned runs) than the man who has continued the tradition of putrid pitching in uniform No. 46.

Jeremy Hefner had a cup of coffee in the major leagues earlier this season, pitching three innings of scoreless relief in a loss to the Giants.  That's fine and dandy.  But it's still only three innings of major league experience.  He might not be the long-term solution.  But I might just have a better solution.

Earlier today, I had a discussion with Clayton Collier.  (Follow him on Twitter here, why don't ya?)  Clayton is a writer for numerous sites, such as Mets Merized Online, and is the founder/head baseball writer at Trifecta Sports, so it's safe to say he knows what he's talking about when it comes to baseball and the Mets.

In our discussion, we talked about some previous faux suggestions for bullpen help, such as Tim Tebow, whose erratic left arm would strike the fear of God into opposing batters.  Clayton also suggested Jeremy Lin, although his curveball isn't as good as his crossover.

That's when the eco-friendly light bulb lit up above my head (albeit dimly).  I know what the Mets have to do to strengthen their bullpen.  Cue up the video...

That's right, kids!  I'm throwing my own Mets hat into the ring.  I'm nominating myself to help the Mets' relief corps.

You see, when R.A. Dickey gave me tips on how to throw a knuckleball, I shocked him by not only throwing a perfect strike, but by knocking his ball out of the hole.  (Dickey threw a practice pitch and embedded it into the haystack that served as the strike zone.  My pitch hit his ball in the center of the strike zone and dislodged it.)

Hitters would be so confounded by my knuckleball, a stark contrast to the 100-MPH heat thrown by Bobby Parnell and the assortment of other pitches thrown by the rest of the crew, that they wouldn't know what to do with it.  Either that or they'd just laugh so hard at the out-of-shape noob on the mound that they wouldn't notice strike three fluttering by.

Think about it, Mets fans.  It makes sense on so many levels.  I have acquired pitching experience from my personal lesson with knuckleball guru R.A. Dickey.  I also own many personalized Mets jerseys, so I'd even save the cash-strapped Wilpons some money since they wouldn't have to make new uniforms for me.

It's time to get the campaign rolling!  Let's get some fresh blood into the Mets bullpen!  No more turning the relief corps into the relief corpse!

Put me in, coach!  I'm ready to play!  Look at me, I can be ... your reliever!

The Mets Have A Bad Case of B.O. (Bullpen Overload)

The Mets gave up a couple of touchdowns to the Toronto Blue Jays in their 14-5 loss on Friday.  But I'm not going to talk about that.  I'm also not going to talk about the whiplash Jonathon Niese must have suffered from turning his neck so quickly to watch all the home runs leaving the yard.  Here, let me just show you what I'm going to talk about.

  • R.A. Dickey: 8 starts, 50 innings pitched, 6.29 IP/start
  • Johan Santana: 8 starts, 43⅔ innings pitched, 5.46 IP/start
  • Jonathon Niese: 8 starts, 42⅔ innings pitched, 5.33 IP/start
  • Dillon Gee: 7 starts, 43 innings pitched, 6.14 IP/start
  • Mike Pelfrey: 3 starts, 19⅔ innings pitched, 6.56 IP/start
  • Miguel Batista: 3 starts, 16 innings pitched, 5.33 IP/start
  • Chris Schwinden: 2 starts, 8 innings pitched, 4.00 IP/start

  • Total: 39 starts, 223⅓ innings pitched, 5.73 IP/start

Do you see the problem there?  No?  Perhaps this will help you see.  The Mets as a team have pitched 345⅓ innings in 2012.  That means more than one-third of the innings pitched (35.3% to be exact) have been pitched by relievers.

And who are those relievers?  Well, you have Manny Acosta (10.53 ERA), Frank Francisco (8.04 ERA), the recently-ousted D.J. Carrasco (7.36 ERA), Jon Rauch (4.32 ERA) and Ramon Ramirez (4.30 ERA).  Only Bobby Parnell and Tim Byrdak have ERAs under 4.00 of relievers with at least four appearances.  (That's why you're not seeing backup catcher Rob Johnson's 0.00 ERA.  Oh, you didn't hear?  He pitched one inning of relief during Friday night's debacle, doing his best Desi Relaford impression by retiring the side in order.  Here's photo evidence...)

When Josh Thole returns from the DL, Rob Johnson might still have a role on the team as a reliever.

Anytime a bullpen gives up more than a run every other inning, you have a flawed bullpen.  But when that bullpen is getting as much use as the Mets are giving them, then you have a flawed team.

The Mets are still doing better than expected, with a 21-18 record, but in the stacked NL East, that's just barely keeping them out of last place.  (The Phillies bring up the rear with a 21-19 mark.)  If the starting pitchers can't give the team a minimum of six innings, and hopefully more, then all the positivity built up from the team's strong start will go out the window.  The bullpen, as it stands, is simply not very good.  Unfortunately, they're being given too many chances to show us that.

It's time for Santana, Dickey, Niese, Batista and Gee to eat up innings for the Mets.  If they don't, it'll be the opposing hitters who will continue to feast on the bullpen.  And that will leave a bad taste in the mouths of all Mets fans.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

David Wright? He's Okay

The Mets defeated the Cincinnati Reds this afternoon by the final score of 9-4, erasing an early four-run deficit to win their 21st game of the season - their 12th comeback victory of the young season.  David Wright gave the Mets the lead with a long double in the bottom of the eighth, scoring Rob Johnson all the way from first base.

For the game, Wright reached base five times, doubling twice and drawing three bases on balls.  His batting average now stands at .411 and his on-base percentage is at .513.  Both numbers lead the majors.  No Met with enough at-bats to qualify for the batting lead had ever owned a .400 batting average this late in the season.  No Met until David Wright.

Let's put what Wright has done into perspective.  If he gets four plate appearances in a game and gets two hits, his on-base percentage will actually go down.  But that's just for one game.  We need to look at a bigger picture here.

If David Wright collects 32 hits over his next 110 at-bats (a .291 average over a month's worth of at-bats), his batting average for the season will still be at .355, or one point higher than John Olerud's franchise-best .354 average, a mark he set in 1998.

David Wright has reached base 78 times over his first 35 games, an average of 2.23 times on base per game.  If Wright plays in every game from now until the end of the season, he will play in 159 games (he missed three games in April).  John Olerud currently is the only Met to reach base 300 times in a single season, doing so 309 times in 1999.  For Wright to break Olerud's mark, he would only have to reach base 1.78 times per game from now until the end of the season.  Wright has already had two full seasons averaging over 1.78 times on base per game, with a 1.85 TOB/game ratio in 2007 and a 1.79 TOB/game ration in 2008.

Finally, the Cardinals' Rafael Furcal is currently second in the National League with a .367 average.  That's 44 points behind Wright's league-leading .411 mark.  At no point last season did Jose Reyes have a lead as large as 44 points on his way to becoming the first Met to win a batting title.

What's the point of this piece?  That should be obvious.  David Wright is having an okay season.  And I mean "okay" the way Wayne Gretzky was an okay goal scorer and Rickey Henderson was an okay base stealer.  On that note, here's hoping David Wright continues to be okay with the Mets for a long, long time.


I woke up this morning (no, those are the first five words of a blues song parody, although with the way the Mets' bullpen has been performing lately, my songwriting skills might be needed soon) and the following five letters kept scrolling in my head like an SNY sports ticker on a slow sports night:


Whatever could those letters mean, I asked myself?  There were several possibilities.  First, I thought DJDFA was the opening act for LMFAO on their tour.  Unfortunately, that was not the case, as LMFAO is currently not touring with another act, but they'd probably want to know who this DFA is, and if he was a good DJ.

Staying on the music front, I then considered the possibility of DJDFA being somehow related to the German industrial rock band, KMFDM, but then realized that the only reason why I was thinking of a German connection was because I had seen Hans and Simon Gruber way too much this week in repeated broadcasts of Die Hard and Die Hard with a Vengeance.

Maybe DJDFA stood for Don Johnson Doing Frankie Avalon.  After all, the man who made all thespians proud with his portrayal of Sonny Crockett in Miami Vice (and don't forget his turn in Nash Bridges) was also once a singer.  (Now that I think of it, did Johnson ever find that "Heartbeat" he was looking for?)  But no, Johnson isn't working on a album of Frankie Avalon covers.  In fact, he hasn't put out an album since 1997, when his record label put out an "Essential" Don Johnson greatest hits album.  (More like a "Greatest Hit" album, if you ask me.)

So what could DJDFA stand for?  Those aren't the initials of the obscure fan club (D.J. Dozier's Freakin' Amazing), mainly because that fan club never existed, although I think I remember Dozier hitting a walk-off grand slam in a spring training game for the Mets in the early '90s, which unfortunately did not turn into success in the regular season (Dozier hit .191 in 47 at-bats with the Mets in 1992, driving in two runs, or half the amount he had in one mighty spring training swing). 

I was about to give up guessing why those letters were taking up space in what passes for my brain.  Then I checked MetsBlog, saw one particular post, and knew immediately what the letters stood for.

DJDFA = D.J. Designated For Assignment

Unlucky No. 77.

Well, it's about frickin' time, Mr. Bigglesworth!  Over his final two games as a Met, Carrasco threw three pitches that sealed his fate:

  • Pitch #1: Long home run by Rickie Weeks.  Prior to the home run, Weeks was hitting .153 (19-for-123) with 43 strikeouts.  If Ike Davis' woes can be contributed to Valley Fever, then Rickie Weeks had Valley Flu, which of course, was cured by one D.J. Carrasco meatball over the plate.

  • Pitch #2: Ryan Braun gets plunked.  Intentional or not, Carrasco had no problem throwing the ball over the plate to Weeks, so why did he miss so badly on his first offering to Braun?  Carrasco got tossed from the game for his "efforts".

  • Pitch #3: Deep goes Frazier!  Todd Frazier, he of the seven career home runs coming into the game, hit a monster shot off Carrasco to turn a one-run contest into a 6-3 deficit, a hole the Mets could not climb out of.  It was Frazier's second home run of the game.  Down goes Carrasco!

D.J. Carrasco signed a two-year deal with the Mets prior to the 2011 season.  Since becoming a Met, Carrasco has been awful.  He is the proud owner of a 6.11 ERA and 1.68 WHIP.  In 53 innings, opponents are hitting .338 against him and are reaching base at a .402 clip.  He has also hit seven batters, thrown four wild pitches and allowed nine home runs.

Needless to say, I can't say I'm upset to see him go.  Having him on the team was like hiring a pyromaniac to be a firefighter.

D.J. has been DFA.  Now GTFO and don't let the bullpen gate hit you on the way out.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mad Men

Jonathon Niese pitched six shutout innings.  Kirk Nieuwenhuis started yet another rally.  Mike Baxter got well-deserved respect as a premier pinch-hitter.  Justin Turner won another battle against Heath Bell.

And the Mets still lost.

After Nieuwenhuis started a two-run inning for the Mets in the fourth inning with a single, Niese continued to pitch shutout ball before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the seventh.  Ramon Ramirez relieved Niese hoping to protect the lead.


Home run.

Game tied at 2.

The Mets regrouped as they have been wont to do during the first month and a half of the season.  Against Marlins' closer Heath Bell in the ninth, the Mets got a one-out double from Daniel Murphy, Doubles Machine.  Two walks later (including an intentional walk to Mike Baxter, who carried a .438 batting average as a pinch-hitter into the at-bat), Justin Turner whacked a double to right to score two runs.  Then Frank Francisco came into the game to save it and give the Mets a series victory.




Hit the showers, Frank.

Stop sniffing yourself, Frank.  We all know you stink.

That was all for Armando Benitez-lite.  Frank Francisco was removed from the game by manager Terry Collins, but not before he stopped by home plate umpire Todd Tichenor to wish his mother a Happy Mother's Day.  (At least I thought I heard him say something about Tichenor's mother.)  Manny Acosta was summoned into the game to stop the bleeding but was "Acosta-ed" by the Marlins.

Sacrifice fly.

Tie game.

Pop out.  (I guess you can't put 'em all on base.)


Hit by pitch.

Giancarlo Stanton.

Say hello to my little friend.

The Mets will now retreat to Citi Field after a 4-2 road trip against the Phillies and Marlins.  If you had asked me before the season started that the Mets would win four out of six against the two teams expected to compete for the NL East title, I would have been thrilled.  But I'm not.

I'm mad.

Very mad.

Smoke coming out of my ears mad.

Paul LoDuca mad.

Paul LoDuca SMASH!!!

Something has to be done about the bullpen situation.  Sandy Alderson did not have much money to work with during the off-season.  But what money he had, he used to upgrade the bullpen.  That "upgrade"  has now had a part in several late-inning meltdowns.

Both losses to the Marlins this weekend were charged to Frank Francisco.  Prior to Friday night's loss, the Mets' last loss was a 5-4 setback to Arizona on May 4.  That game was lost by Jon Rauch, who allowed three hits, two inherited base runners to score and a run of his own.  What about Ramon Ramirez?  He's allowed 31 base runners (21 hits, 10 walks) in only 19⅓ innings.

Even a certain holdover, wearing Oliver Perez's old No. 46, has pitched like dookie.  (And I'm not talking about Orlando "The Dookie" Hernandez, although I think he'd have better success right now than the current members of the Gasoline Brigade.)  Including today, Manny Acosta has faced 85 batters this year.  Almost half of them (36) have reached base.  Four of them reached base and then continued running around them.  That includes Giancarlo Stanton, who touched Acosta for a game-ending grand slam today.

The Mets have done quite well so far.  That doesn't mean they shouldn't play angry after games like today.  There should be 25 mad men in the dugout tomorrow against Milwaukee.  They should let it be known to each other that losses like today's will no longer be tolerated.  The bullpen must improve.  The team must improve.  They're better than that.  And they should know it.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Around The World In 8,000 Games

Friday night's game against the Miami Marlins was already going to be special for the Mets because it was to be their first game in the Marlins' new ballpark.  But Mets historians such as myself will remember the game for another reason, as it was the 8,000th regular season game in franchise history.

In their first 8,000 games, the Mets have emerged victorious 3,829 times, while falling short on 4,163 occasions.  They have also played eight games to a tie.  In addition, the Mets have finished with a winning record in 23 of their 50 campaigns, making the playoffs seven times (five division titles, two wild cards).  All that you know.  But what if I broke down the 8,000 games into eight 1,000-game periods?  What would the Mets' record be in each period?  Which team did they defeat the most?  Which team gave them the most trouble?  Which pitcher was the most successful?  Who hit the most home runs?

Ladies and gentle-Mets, without further ado, I invite you to join me as we go around the Mets' world in 8,000 games (1,000 games at a time) to answer all these questions and perhaps find a nugget or two we weren't expecting to find.

Games 1 - 1,000: April 11, 1962 - May 12, 1968 (1st game of DH)

Record: 332 wins, 664 losses, 4 ties
Easiest victim: Chicago Cubs (47 wins, 67 losses, 1 tie)
Toughest opponent: Los Angeles Dodgers (27 wins, 87 losses, 1 tie)
Winningest pitcher: Al Jackson (40 wins, 74 losses)
Saves leader: Jack Hamilton (14 saves)
Top home run hitter: Jim Hickman (60 HR)
RBI leader: Ed Kranepool (223 RBI)

Games 1,001 - 2,000: May 12, 1968 (2nd game of DH) - June 17, 1974

Record: 517 wins, 482 losses, 1 tie
Easiest victim: Philadelphia Phillies (67 wins, 42 losses)
Toughest opponent: Cincinnati Reds (30 wins, 51 losses)
Winningest pitcher: Tom Seaver (121 wins, 66 losses)
Saves leader: Tug McGraw (83 saves)
Top home run hitter: Tommie Agee (81 HR)
RBI leader: Cleon Jones (379 RBI)

Games 2,001 - 3,000: June 18, 1974 - July 18, 1980

Record: 451 wins, 548 losses, 1 tie
Easiest victim: Chicago Cubs (63 wins, 52 losses), Atlanta Braves (46 wins, 32 losses)
Toughest opponent: Philadelphia Phillies (40 wins, 73 losses)
Winningest pitcher: Jerry Koosman (55 wins, 65 losses)
Saves leader: Skip Lockwood (65 saves)
Top home run hitter: Dave Kingman (82 HR)
RBI leader: Lee Mazzilli (233 RBI)

Games 3,001 - 4,000: July 19, 1980 - April 19, 1987

Record: 500 wins, 498 losses, 2 ties
Easiest victim: Pittsburgh Pirates (66 wins, 44 losses, 1 tie)
Toughest opponent: St. Louis Cardinals (49 wins, 64 losses)
Winningest pitcher: Dwight Gooden (58 wins, 19 losses)
Saves leader: Jesse Orosco (94 saves)
Top home run hitter: Darryl Strawberry (113 HR)
RBI leader: Darryl Strawberry (358 RBI)

Games 4,001 - 5,000: April 20, 1987 - May 24, 1993

Record: 527 wins, 473 losses
Easiest victim: St. Louis Cardinals (62 wins, 46 losses)
Toughest opponent: Chicago Cubs (50 wins, 57 losses)
Winningest pitcher: Dwight Gooden (89 wins, 51 losses)
Saves leader: John Franco (79 saves)
Top home run hitter: Howard Johnson (166 HR)
RBI leader: Howard Johnson (527 RBI)

Games 5,001 - 6,000: May 25, 1993 - September 5, 1999

Record: 499 wins, 501 losses
Easiest victim: St. Louis Cardinals (38 wins, 27 losses)
Toughest opponent: Houston Astros (27 wins, 41 losses)
Winningest pitcher: Bobby Jones (63 wins, 50 losses)
Saves leader: John Franco (189 saves)
Top home run hitter: Todd Hundley (112 HR)
RBI leader: Todd Hundley (338 RBI)

Games 6,001 - 7,000: September 6, 1999 - April 7, 2006

Record: 488 wins, 512 losses
Easiest victim: Colorado Rockies (28 wins, 17 losses)
Toughest opponent: Atlanta Braves (44 wins, 70 losses), St. Louis Cardinals (14 wins, 26 losses)
Winningest pitcher: Al Leiter (67 wins, 52 losses)
Saves leader: Armando Benitez (143 saves)
Top home run hitter: Mike Piazza (165 HR)
RBI leader: Mike Piazza (477 RBI)

Games 7,001 - 8,000: April 9, 2006 - May 11, 2012

Record: 515 wins, 485 losses
Easiest victim: Pittsburgh Pirates (27 wins, 17 losses)
Toughest opponent: Atlanta Braves (52 wins, 62 losses)
Winningest pitcher: Mike Pelfrey (50 wins, 54 losses)
Saves leader: Billy Wagner (100 saves)
Top home run hitter: David Wright (143 HR)
RBI leader: David Wright (595 RBI)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


On Wednesday night, the Mets completed a three-game sweep of the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, coming from behind to win all three games.  It was the first time the Mets swept the Phillies in Philadelphia since June 13-15, 2006.  With the victory, the Mets improved to 18-13, the first time they've been five games over .500 since July 19, 2010.  Conversely, the Phillies' loss dropped their record to 14-18.  The last time they were four games under .500 was five years ago to the day (May 9, 2007), when they were 15-19.

Before our thoughts turn to the upcoming weekend series against the Miami Marlins, let's look at some other things you may not have known that came to my attention after the Phillie-busting was complete.

The Mets absolutely annihilated the Phillies' bullpen over the three games.  In 7⅓ innings, the Phillies' relievers allowed 14 runs (12 earned) on 13 hits and six walks.  The Mets had not scored as many as 14 runs in any of their last three series against the Phillies, dating back to last year.  Yet they managed to score that many runs in this three-game series solely against the Phillies' bullpen.

By scoring ten runs against the Phillies in the series finale, the Mets achieved a season high in runs scored in a game.  The last time the Mets scored double digit runs in a single game was last September 16 in a 12-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves.  Wednesday's victory was only the second time in their last 81 games that the Mets reached double digits in runs scored.

The Mets outscored the Phillies 22-12 over the three games.  The last time the Mets outscored an opponent by at least ten runs in a three-game series sweep was in 2010, when they swept the Orioles out of Camden Yards by a combined score of 19-6.  Who was the last National League team they accomplished the feat against?  None other than the Philadelphia Phillies during the Mets' memorable three-game shutout sweep at Citi Field from May 25-27, 2010, outscoring them 16-0.

Seven different Mets scored at least one run in Wednesday's finale (Andres Torres, David Wright, Scott Hairston, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Justin Turner, Ike Davis, Dillon Gee) and seven players drove in at least one run (Torres, Daniel Murphy, Wright, Hairston, Turner, Davis, Lucas Duda).  The last time the Mets accomplished this double dip on their way to victory was September 5, 2010, when a whopping 11 players scored at least once and eight players tacked on at least one RBI to their season totals in an 18-5 demolition of the Chicago Cubs.

Finally, Wednesday's game marked the 402nd win for the Mets over the Phillies in their 50-plus years of existence.  It's the most wins they have against any opponent in the major leagues.  Second on the list are the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals franchise, who the Mets have defeated a total of 371 times.  For as good as the Phillies have been over the past half-decade, the Mets have done fairly well against them, going 23-21 over their division rivals over their last 44 games.

By the time the 2012 season comes to a close, the Mets and Phillies might have switched positions in the NL East standings.  But it sure feels good to have the Mets sweep the three-game series in front of their red-clad fans, or the few that were left at the end of Wednesday's series finale.  I guess they couldn't stand to see the Phillie-busting in its entirety.