Monday, November 29, 2010

Out With The Old; In With Chris Young

According to a tweet by Buster Olney, the Mets might be close to signing oft-injured Padres pitcher Chris Young. Being that Sandy Alderson and Paul DePodesta both worked for the Padres during Young's time there, there may something to this deal.

There is no question that the 31-year-old Young is talented. Since breaking into the major leagues in 2004 with the Texas Rangers, Young has made 135 starts, holding opposing hitters to a .220 batting average.

Despite the fact that Young can occasionally go through bouts of wildness, he has still limited his opponents to a .299 career on-base percentage. Basically, he will retire seven of every ten batters he faces. That type of success rate leads to fewer big innings by the opposing team.

There is one drawback to having Chris Young in your starting rotation. His 6'10" frame is very fragile.

From 2005-2007, Young made at least 30 starts each season. As you can see below, in each season he lowered his ERA and WHIP, while striking out more batters.

  • 2005: 31 starts, 4.26 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 137 Ks
  • 2006: 31 starts, 3.46 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 164 Ks
  • 2007: 30 starts, 3.12 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 167 Ks

Then 2008 came along and the brittle Chris Young was born. From his third consecutive 30+ start season in 2007, he went down to 18 starts in 2008 to 14 starts in 2009 to only four starts this past season.

His walks have also been on the rise as he has struggled through these annual injuries. If Young is healthy (and that's a BIG if), he can be a fine acquisition for the Mets.

Young is known as a fly ball pitcher, which is perfect for a pitcher's ballpark such as Citi Field. Having pitched most of his career for the San Diego Padres in cavernous Petco Park, Young knows how to pitch to his park's dimensions.

In 45 career starts at Petco Park, Young maintained an exceptional 2.85 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, striking out nearly a batter per inning (250 Ks in 265.1 innings). He also held opponents to a .205 batting average and .283 on-base percentage. Pitching half his games at Citi Field could lead to similar results.

As long as the Mets don't do something stupid and sign him to a three-year, $36 million contract, Young could be a good fit. He would need to prove he is healthy, but if he does, a one-year, incentive-laden deal would not be uncalled for.

The Marlins signed Javier Vazquez to a one-year, $7 million contract. The Dodgers signed Jon Garland to a one-year, $5 million contract. Both of those pitchers were healthy last season. The Mets should be able to sign Chris Young for less than that. He may be the most fragile of the three, but if he can stay on the mound, he may end up being the best bargain.

Discounts For Ticket Plan Holders Are Nice, But...

Since 2002, I have been a Mets ticket plan holder. During the last seven years of Shea Stadium's existence, I was a proud owner of a Sunday Plan. This plan allowed me to have the same seats (Mezzanine Section 7, Row E, Seats 16 and 17) for all 13 Sunday home games. If the Mets were playing at home on a Sunday, I was sure to be there.

Then in 2009, Citi Field opened its doors and I wanted to be sure that I was there on Opening Day. Therefore, to guarantee my seat for the inaugural game, I purchased the Weekday Plan in addition to my Sunday Plan. However, now the Sunday Plan consisted of 15 games, of which five were weekday games. In addition, not every Sunday game was part of the package (three Sundays, including the season finale, were now allocated to the new Weekend Plan).

Therefore, I now had two plans totaling 30 games and my Sunday Plan now had weekday games that I couldn't attend. But I did get into the inaugural game and I still had most of the Sunday games. I also had the same two plans for the 2010 season.

Now I just received my 2011 invoice for the two plans in the mail. Yes, the ticket prices are down from previous years. The Mets have been quite vocal about sharing that bit of information with fans. But they neglected to mention one little detail about these tickets.

This is the schedule for the Weekday Plan (the one that includes Opening Day):

Fri. April 8 vs. Washington @ 4:10 p.m.
Tues. April 12 vs. Colorado @ 7:10 p.m.
Thurs. April 21 vs. Houston @ 7:10 p.m.
Tues. May 3 vs. San Francisco @ 7:10 p.m.
Wed. May 18 vs. Washington @ 7:10 p.m.
Mon. May 30 vs. Pittsburgh @ 7:10 p.m.
Thurs. June 23 vs. Oakland @ 1:10 p.m.
Wed. July 20 vs. St. Louis @ 7:10 p.m.
Mon. August 1 vs. Florida @ 7:10 p.m.
Tues. August 9 vs. San Diego @ 7:10 p.m.
Mon. August 29 vs. Florida @ 7:10 p.m.
Thurs. September 1 vs. Florida @ 7:10 p.m.
Mon. September 12 vs. Washington @ 7:10 p.m.
Thurs. September 15 vs. Washington @ 1:10 p.m.
Wed. September 28 vs. Cincinnati @ 1:10 p.m.

Did you notice anything missing up there? Where are the games against the Phillies and the Braves? Believe it or not, every series played by Philadelphia and Atlanta at Citi Field this season falls on the weekend. That leaves undesirable games against teams like Washington and Florida to put on the Weekday Plan.

In all, seven of the 15 games in the Weekday Plan are against the Nationals (4 games) and the Marlins (3 games). That's almost half of the games in the plan.

Because so many of these games are part of the value category of ticket prices, the Mets were very happy to let me know that my invoice dropped from $695 for two Promenade Reserved Infield seats to $574, a savings of almost 20%. But they're not exactly advertising that these games are mostly against the poorer teams in baseball. Ten of the 15 games are against teams that finished .500 or worse in 2010.

The moral of this story is to be careful what you wish for. Since the Mets opened Citi Field, the product on the field has been less than stellar. The high prices have not been justified by the Mets' performance. So fans asked for lower prices if they were going to come back for another subpar season.

You want lower prices? You got it. Now you can tell me how all those Mets-Nationals games were because I surely won't be renewing my ticket plans.

Angel Hernandez Loses Mentor In Leslie Nielsen

Studious Metsimus is sad to report that actor/umpire Leslie Nielsen has passed away at the age of 84.  The versatile thespian was influential to many comedians for his deadpan delivery on screen, but his work in the first "Naked Gun" film was a little too influential to an enemy of Mets fans.

For years, Mets fans have had a hate/hate relationship with umpire Angel Hernandez.   His strike zone has been wider than CC Sabathia's waistline whenever the Mets are batting.   He has also developed a rare form of temporary blindness that has resulted in numerous calls at the plate going against the Mets, as Mike Piazza (circa 1998) and Paul Lo Duca (circa 2006) can attest.

Whenever Angel Hernandez has been on the field for a Mets game, bad calls have always followed.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise to Mets fans that he has based his entire style of calling games on the umpiring work of Leslie Nielsen.  Don't believe me?   Take a look at this video clip, which he accidentally left behind the last time he umpired a game at Citi Field.

When John Franco went ballistic on Hernandez after his blown call at home plate gave the Braves a crucial victory over the Mets in 1998, that was Leslie Nielsen's influence.  Similarly, when Paul Lo Duca spiked the ball at home plate after another poor call by Hernandez during a game in 2006, it was right after the arbiter had viewed his favorite film (or as he liked to call it, his umpiring instructional video).

Angel Hernandez will be working with a heavy heart in 2011, as his mentor and inspiration has passed away.  Most teams honor those who have died by wearing black patches or armbands on their uniforms.  Hernandez will also wear black to honor Leslie Nielsen, but he will wear it in a way that is not only appropriate, but will allow him to come up with new excuses for missing critical calls against the Mets (see photo below).

Leslie Nielsen starred in many films over his long career.  His death will be mourned by millions of fans worldwide.  But one fan may take it a little harder than most.

R.I.P. Leslie Nielsen.  You will be missed by this Mets blogger and surely, you will be missed by Mets' nemesis Angel Hernandez (even if he just called you Shirley).

Friday, November 26, 2010

Regarding Terry Collins And Long Layoffs Between Managerial Jobs

On Tuesday, the Mets introduced Terry Collins as the 20th manager in franchise history. When Collins takes the field on Opening Day 2011, it will mark the first time he has done so as a manager in the major leagues since 1999.

If the 12-year gap between managerial gigs seems long to you, that's because it is. In fact, Collins has become only the fourth manager since 1900 to go at least 12 seasons between managerial jobs (not including interim managers or player/managers). The other managers prior to Collins to achieve this feat were:

  • Chuck Dressen (1937 Reds, 1951 Dodgers)
  • Burt Shotton (1933 Phillies, 1947 Dodgers)
  • Paul Richards (1961 Orioles, 1976 White Sox)
Note: Shotton managed two games for the 1934 Reds.

So how did the long layoffs affect the previous three managers' ability to lead their teams? The results are mixed.

After managing the Cincinnati Reds for four seasons (1934-1937), never finishing higher than fifth place in the eight team National League, Chuck Dressen did not manage again until 1951, when he took over the reins of the Brooklyn Dodgers. That year, the Dodgers missed winning the National League pennant when the Giants' Bobby Thomson hit the "Shot Heard 'Round The World". However, in each of the following two seasons (1952 and 1953), Dressen led the Dodgers to the World Series.

When Dressen (see photo, right) became manager of the Dodgers in 1951, he replaced Burt Shotton, who had served as the Dodgers' skipper from 1947-1950.

Shotton had previously managed the Philadelphia Phillies for six years (1928-1933). He coached the Cincinnati Reds during the 1934 season and served as their manager for two games.

Later on, Shotton became was a scout for the Brooklyn Dodgers and was perfectly content to serve in that capacity. However, when then-Dodger manager Leo Durocher was suspended for the entire 1947 season by Commissioner Happy Chandler, Shotton was asked to manage once again.

Prior to Shotton's arrival in 1947, the Dodgers had won only one National League pennant in 26 years, losing the 1941 World Series to the crosstown Yankees. Under Shotton's guidance, the Dodgers won the pennant in 1947 before succumbing to the Yankees again in seven games.

Leo Durocher returned from his suspenstion in 1948 and Shotton was moved into the Dodgers' front office. However, the players did not respond well to Durocher's return, as the defending National League champions began the season with a 35-37 record.

At the same time, New York Giants owner Horace Stoneham was looking to replace manager Mel Ott and contacted the Dodgers to ask for Shotton's services. Instead of Shotton moving over to the Polo Grounds, the Dodgers surprisingly sent Durocher to the Giants, replacing Leo once again with Shotton.

The Dodgers recovered nicely once Shotton was back in the dugout. Although they did not win the pennant, they went 48-33 under Shotton's tutelage. Their strong finish carried over into the 1949 season, as they won their second pennant in three years with Shotton as their manager. Of course, the Yankees defeated them for the umpteenth time in that year's Fall Classic.

Burt Shotton and Chuck Dressen each won two National League pennants with the Brooklyn Dodgers after not managing in the major leagues for 14 years. Only one manager went longer between managerial jobs. He didn't fare quite as well as Shotton and Dressen.

Paul Richards had managed in the major leagues for 11 seasons from 1951-1961, serving as the White Sox skipper from 1951-1954, followed by a seven-year stint as the manager of the Baltimore Orioles from 1955-1961.

It was Richards who took the Orioles from the bottom of the American League standings to contention. The Orioles franchise had not finished with a winning record since 1945, when they were the St. Louis Browns. However, in 1960, Richards guided them to an 89-65 record, good enough for second place in the American League.

The following season, the Orioles were once again a winning team. However, with a 78-57 record, Richards abruptly resigned as Orioles' manager to become the GM of the expansion Houston Colt .45s. Five years later, he became the general manager of the Atlanta Braves and put together the team that won the first National League West division title in 1969 before losing to the Miracle Mets in the inaugural National League Championship Series.

After the Braves faltered in 1970 and 1971, Richards was fired midway through the 1972 season. He did not work in baseball again until 1976, when he was offered his first managerial position in 15 years by the Chicago White Sox, the team he had previously managed in the 1950s. Unfortunately, his long layoff did not lead to brighter days for the White Sox during the bicentennial season.

Chicago finished in last place in the American League West in 1976 with a 64-97 record, leading the 67-year-old Richards to retire from managing at the end of the season. However, the following season, the White Sox rebounded from their last place finish to win 90 games.

Now it's Terry Collins' turn to return to the dugout after an absence of 12 years. The Mets are coming off consecutive fourth place finishes in the National League East. For some teams, a change in the dugout leads to a resurgence in the standings. But when that change brings in a manager who hasn't held that position in the major leagues for an extended period of time, how does that affect that team's ability to return to contention?

For the Brooklyn Dodgers, a long period of National League dormancy ended at the same time that Burt Shotton and Chuck Dressen returned from 14-year breaks as managers. However, for the Chicago White Sox, Paul Richards' return to the dugout did not help the White Sox in his one season there, but he did plant the seeds that blossomed into contention the year after his arrival and departure.

Terry Collins will have a difficult job ahead of him if he wants to bring the Mets back from the depths of the National League. However, if the past were to dictate what happens in the present, then perhaps it won't be as difficult as it seems.

Editor's note: Hey, guess what, kids? Thanks to the keen eye of the always amazin' Greg Prince (of Faith and Fear in Flushing fame), a fourth manager other than Terry Collins has been discovered (kinda like Columbus "discovering" a country that had already been discovered by Native Americans).

Larry Bowa managed the San Diego Padres in 1987 and 1988. His stay there was short-lived, primarily due to his awful 81-127 record. After leaving the dugout in the stadium formerly known as Bob Murphy's Brother Stadium, he did not manage again in the major leagues until 2001, when he took over for Terry Francona in Philadelphia.

Francona's Phillies finished in the National League East's cellar in 2000 (a year that should be quite familiar to Mets fans) with a 65-97 record. Bowa then took over the Phailin' Phils and led them to an incredible turnaround. The 2001 Phillies finished the season with an 86-76 record, only two games behind the division champion Atlanta Braves. For his efforts, Bowa was named National League Manager of the Year.

Bowa remained on board through 2004, at which time Charles Fuqua Manuel took over the team and turned them into perennial favorites to represent the National League in the World Series. The Mets have been Fuqua-ed ever since.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

If Mookie Comes Aboard, Castillo Must No Longer Be #1

There have been numerous changes in the Mets' coaching positions this offseason. Manager Jerry Manuel, hitting coach Howard Johnson, bullpen coach Randy Niemann and first base coach Razor Shines will no longer be serving the team in those capacities. The managerial position has been taken over by Terry Collins, while the other positions have yet to be filled.

Various publications, including the Daily News, have reported that Mookie Wilson is a strong candidate for the first base coaching position, a job he held from 1997-2002.

Wilson was a fine first base coach during his first tour of duty there and would be a welcome addition to the 2011 Mets' coaching staff. However, there is one thing that I must make perfectly clear, and I'm writing this specifically for Luis Castillo. If Mookie Wilson does come aboard next season, his uniform number better be number 1.

Mookie Wilson is one of the most beloved figures in Mets history. His omnipresent smile and aggressive, yet intelligent, baserunning catapulted him to an iconic status at Shea Stadium, culminating in his epic at-bat in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

When Mets fans think of #41, they think of Tom Seaver. When they think of #17, they think of Keith Hernandez (although some might think of Graeme Lloyd, but those people are probably also fans of Kylie Minogue and Men at Work). Similarly, when Mets fans think of #1, they immediately think of Mookie Wilson.

Luis Castillo is now wearing Mookie's old number. Castillo (along with Oliver Perez) has drawn the ire of current Mets fans over the past few years. His perpetual limp and one-handed approach to the game are the antithesis of everything Mookie Wilson represented to the Mets. It would be a great disservice to the fans and a slap in the face of Mets history if Castillo didn't give up his number to William Hayward Wilson should Mookie become the first base coach.

If Castillo doesn't take the number off his back, he would not be the first player to cause Mookie to change his number. In 1996, Lance Johnson wore the number 1 when he signed with the Mets, causing Mookie Wilson to don number 51 as the Mets' first base coach. Fortunately, Johnson honored the number well, as his 1996 season was one for the ages.

That season was known for two trios, one good and one not so good. It featured the phenomenal hitting exploits of Bernard Gilkey, the record-setting home run production of Todd Hundley and the the fleet feet of Lance Johnson. Unfortunately, the 1996 season was also supposed to be the first full season of Generation K (Paul Wilson, Jason Isringhausen and Bill Pulsipher). The staff of the future left their talent and health in the past, as injuries and poor performances turned the young pitchers into Generation K-less.

The Mets' 71-91 record in 1996 was far short of Amazin', but the same could not be said for Lance Johnson's performance. The centerfielder became the first player in franchise history to amass 200 hits in a season. His 227 safeties obliterated the previous franchise record of 191 set by Felix Millan in 1975.

He also demolished Mookie Wilson's single season triples mark, as his 21 three-baggers easily surpassed the 10 triples hit by Mookie in 1984. In addition, Johnson stole 50 bases, making him the first Met not named Mookie Wilson to reach the half-century mark in steals and hit .333, which was the second highest single season batting average in team history at the time (Cleon Jones hit .340 in 1969).

Lance Johnson's memorable 1996 season made it easier to digest that Mookie was wearing a number other than 1 on the field. Johnson also showed class on the day Mookie Wilson was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame. On September 1, 1996, Johnson switched numbers with Mookie Wilson, with Johnson wearing number 51 and Mookie wearing his traditional number 1.

Now Luis Castillo has the number 1 on his back. It is the number Castillo has worn since 1997 (He wore number 34 briefly in 1996). However, the Marlins did not have a prominent number 1 prior to Castillo's time in Florida (1996-2005) and the Twins also did not have a history with that number before Castillo wore it for them in 2006 and 2007. The Mets, on the other hand, do.

The most magical moment in Mets history is linked to the man wearing uniform number 1. If that same man becomes the new first base coach, he will be required to be in uniform again. There is no way that he should step onto the field wearing anything other than the number 1. Luis Castillo isn't worthy of wearing Mookie Wilson's jock strap, let alone his number.

Castillo hasn't done much to earn the four-year contract Omar Minaya gift-wrapped for him prior to the 2008 season. Giving up his uniform number to Mookie Wilson still won't justify his contract, but at least he'd be able to do something positive that might earn him his first cheer from the Mets faithful.

For the past few years, fans at Citi Field have screamed "BOOOOOOOO" whenever they saw the number 1 on the field. If all goes well, when number 1 pops out of the dugout next year, they'll be able to shout "MOOOOOOOO" instead.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Broken News: Terry Collins Is Your New Scapegoat, I Mean Manager!

It hasn't been made official yet, but various sources, including David Lennon and Bob Klapisch have tweeted that Terry Collins has been selected as the new manager for the New York Mets.

Given that tomorrow is owner Fred Wilpon's 74th birthday, Sandy Alderson has given Right Said Fred an early birthday present, although Mr. Wilpon has claimed to be too sexy for his new manager.

Considering that Alderson made it clear that his preference was to sign a manager with major league experience, the managerial race was basically a two-man contest between Terry Collins and Art Howe-lite (Bob Melvin).

In Terry Collins, the Mets have a manager who led his teams (Astros, Angels) to five consecutive second place finishes from 1994-1998. However, he never won the wild card and never won more than 85 games in a season.

Then came the 1999 season, when Collins didn't finish #2, but made his players feel like #2. That was the year when Collins became vilified in Anaheim by his players.

A manager is supposed to lead his team and keep them together through good times and bad. During the 1999 season, the Angels suffered through injuries and poor play. Constant player bickering brought more tension into the clubhouse. Collins did nothing to diffuse the situation. In fact, when he started benching players left and right while word of a contract extension became public, the players demanded that Collins be removed from his position.

Under pressure from his players, Collins resigned with 29 games left in the season, finishing his last season in Anahaim with a 51-82 record.

Now Collins comes to manage a team with a recent history of injuries in a city with a huge media presence. If he loses control of this team, he may not even make it to the 133-game mark, at least in the eyes of the fans.

Second place might have been good enough for five years in Houston and Anaheim, but New York is a city that demands excellence. Davey Johnson never finished a full season below second place, yet he was run out of town in 1990. Although the Mets are not expected to do much in 2011, perhaps saving Collins if the team finishes in fourth place for a third consecutive season, Collins will be on a short leash if the Mets do not improve in 2012.

Welcome to New York, Terry Collins. It's up to you if you want the cheers to last past Opening Day.

Song Parody: "Tik Tok" Until We Know Who The New Mets Manager Is

With apologies to Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte, it appears as if we'll have to wait another 48 hours to know who will be the next Mets manager. There's been plenty of speculation as to who it will be, but no one has leaked who it will be. (Even the American Idol judges had no clue.)

Will it be Terry Collins, the man who has never managed a team to a postseason berth and was subsequently run out of Anaheim after losing the players in his clubhouse?

Will it be Bob Melvin, a nice guy from what I've heard, but who makes Art Howe look interesting?

Will it be Wally Backman, the fan-favorite, who has led the majority of his minor league and independent league teams to division titles and championships?

Or will it be someone else - someone who fans aren't expecting? The master lyricist/entertainer Ke$ha recently compsed a song that might apply to the Mets and their managerial search. With a few tweaks here and there, I have reprinted the lyrics (without permission, so don't tell anyone or else I'll be in more trouble than Francisco Rodriguez at a Peña Family Reunion) in the hopes that it will shed some new light on who the next manager of the Metropolitans should be.

Ladies and Gentle-Mets, I present to you the Studious Metsimus version of Ke$ha's "Tik Tok":

Wake up Monday morning; don't feel very giddy
Grab the paper, I check the sports; still no skipper at Citi
Gotta believe in this team; no, I'm not on crack
Just wish I knew if it was Terry, Bob or Wally Back...

They interviewed Hale and Oquendo-do
Their chances were probably low-low
'Cause Sandy knows where to go-go
He basically only considered these three
Collins, Melvin and Wally
Which one of them will it be?

Chop chop, yo, what's up?
Tell us who's runnin' the shop
Tonight, be forthright
Who's managing David Wright?
Tik tok, look at the clock
Name your man, let's hurry up
Oh, who is the new man?
Who is the new man?

Chop chop, yo, what's up?
Tell us who's runnin' the shop
Tonight, be forthright
Who's managing David Wright?
Tik tok, look at the clock
Name your man, let's hurry up
Oh, who is the new man?
Who is the new man?

Ain't got a clue who it is, so don't know if I'll cheer
When Sandy tells us who our manager will be next year
Collins and Melvin are okay, but they both lack that swagger
The kind that Wally would infuse if the Mets showed a stagger

Wally wouldn't take anybody's junk-junk
None of his players have stunk-stunk
He'd smack 'em if they played like punks-punks
So Sandy, it's not hard to figure out-out
I don't even need to shout-shout
Put Wally in the dugout-out
Put Wally in!

Chop chop, yo, what's up?
Tell us who's runnin' the shop
Tonight, be forthright
Who's managing David Wright?
Tik tok, look at the clock
Name your man, let's hurry up
Oh, who is the new man?
Who is the new man?

Chop chop, yo, what's up?
Tell us who's runnin' the shop
Tonight, be forthright
Who's managing David Wright?
Tik tok, look at the clock
Name your man, let's hurry up
Oh, who is the new man?
Who is the new man?

Build this team up
So it won't fall down
My heart still pounds
For Wally!

Time's almost up
Make your choice now
Mets will rebound
With Wally!

Not Moneyball,
But Wally Ball.
Play Wally Ball!

Now with Wally on board, the Mets will win!

Chop chop, yo, what's up?
Make sure Wally runs the shop
Tonight, be forthright
Wally's ready for David Wright.
Tik tok, look at the clock
Promote Wally to the top
Oh, who is the new man?
Who is the new man?

Chop chop, yo, what's up?
Make sure Wally runs the shop
Tonight, be forthright
Wally's ready for David Wright.
Tik tok, look at the clock
Promote Wally to the top
Oh, who is the new man?
Who is the new man?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Should The Mets Consider Signing Jorge de la Rosa?

The free agent class for pitchers this off-season is simple. There's Cliff Lee and there's everyone else. That being said (sorry if I just brought back bad memories of Omar Minaya), since the Mets do not appear to be contestants on "Who Wants To Be A Lee-lionaire?", there is one member of "everyone else" that the Mets should consider signing. How does Jorge de la Rosa sound to you?

De la Rosa might not be the sexiest name out there. Heck, just writing his name is difficult enough. (Upper case "D", lower case "d", make up your mind!) But George, George, George of the Rose (Jorge de la Rosa translates into "George of the Rose") has left the jungle that is home to below-average pitchers and has become a respectable major league pitcher.

The Rockies pitcher has improved in each of the last five seasons. Here are Jorge de la Rosa's numbers since 2006, which was the first season in which he started more than ten games:

  • 2006: 13 starts, 6.49 ERA, 1.71 WHIP
  • 2007: 23 starts, 5.82 ERA, 1.64 WHIP
  • 2008: 23 starts, 4.92 ERA, 1.46 WHIP
  • 2009: 32 starts, 4.38 ERA, 1.38 WHIP
  • 2010: 20 starts, 4.22 ERA, 1.32 WHIP

No other pitcher in the major leagues with at least 10 starts in each of the past five seasons has improved every season in both ERA and WHIP.

Since becoming a Colorado Rockie prior to the 2008 season, de la Rosa has become increasingly harder to hit. In 2008, he held hitters to a .262 batting average (.349 on-base percentage). That went down to .249 (.335 OBP) in 2009, followed by a career-best .235 (.324 OBP) in 2010.

In addition to allowing fewer baserunners, de la Rosa has also become an elite strikeout pitcher, averaging nearly one punchout per inning as a Rockie (434 Ks in 436.2 innings).

Did I mention that de la Rosa is a lefty? A left-handed starter is just what the Mets need now that Johan Santana might not be available for the beginning of the 2011 season and Oliver Perez shouldn't be available...ever.

Let's face it. Jorge de la Rosa is not going to contend for the Cy Young Award, and any team acquiring him shouldn't expect him to. However, whoever signs de la Rosa should expect a quality starter who will eat up innings (he averaged over six innings per start in 2010, and pitched at least six innings in each of his last nine starts), send many batters back to their respective dugouts without putting the ball in play, and will keep his team in the ballgame.

As a 29-year-old (he will turn 30 shortly after Opening Day), the best may be yet to come for George, George, George of the Rose. The Mets are going to be shopping for a quality arm to help their questionable rotation. De la Rosa made $5.6 million in 2010. He's already a better pitcher than Oliver Perez was when the Mets re-signed him two years ago, but will probably not be seeking a three-year, $36 million deal like the one given to Ollie.

De la Rosa is probably worth between $8 million and $10 million per year. Shouldn't the Mets take a chance on this improving pitcher rather than try to patch their staff together, hoping to find another R.A. Dickey where one might not exist?

Many teams are looking to sign Jorge de la Rosa this off-season. The Mets should be one of them.

Oliver Perez Brings His Balls To Mexico

Do you recognize the man to the left? (Apparently, the people in the background don't, because they're cheering for him.) It's none other than our very own Oliver Perez, who is now pitching for his hometown Culiacan Tomateros in the Mexican Pacific League.

In an effort to hone his eroding baseball skills, which is a polite way of saying that he's trying to improve enough so that he can get another major league contract that doesn't involve cleaning out the toilets in the clubhouse, Oliver Perez has taken his impeccable ability to throw balls to Mexico.

He is not letting his ball-throwing fanbase down. In 4.1 innings of work, scattered over four relief appearances, Ollie has faced 20 batters. Eight of the 20 have reached base (three walks, five hits) for a .400 on-base percentage. The eight baserunners over 4.1 innings actually represent a slight improvement over his numbers for the Mets in 2010, when he allowed 96 baserunners (54 hits, 42 walks) over 46.1 innings of work.

Right now, Oliver Perez couldn't hit a CC Sabathia-sized piñata if he was standing directly underneath it. He can't retire 40% of opposing batters in the Mexican Pacific League, so what chance does he have of getting the job done as a Met in 2011?

Oliver Perez used to be a decent pitcher with a lot of potential. Now he's just an expert at throwing ball four. His potential has never been realized in the major leagues and he's certainly not realizing it as a Tomato Picker (which is what "Tomateros" means in English).

One more thing. Remember the photo you saw at the top of this post? It's actually cropped from the photo below (courtesy of the Tomateros website):

The only way for Oliver Perez to get to the pitcher's mound unscathed is to run with a kid by his side. This would definitely come in handy on the date when the Tomateros have their "Free Tomato Day" giveaway.

Oliver Perez is in the last year of his three-year, $36 million swindle, I mean, contract. For his own sake, he better re-learn how to throw strikes. If not, he may just be a Tomatero for life.

Dan Uggla To Atlanta; Castillo Still A Met

On Tuesday, the Florida Marlins traded their second baseman, Dan Uggla, to the division rival Atlanta Braves. In return, the Marlins received utility player and questionable All-Star Omar Infante and pitcher Mike Dunn.

The Mets, on the other hand, still have the one-armed bandit (Luis Castillo) playing second base.

Let me get this straight. The Florida Marlins were having difficulty signing Uggla to a multi-year deal, so they traded him to a division rival (one that finished ahead of them in the standings) and all they got in return was Omar Infante and Mike Dunn? Let's do a short analysis of this deal.

Daniel Cooley Uggla is the only second baseman in history to have four seasons of 30 or more home runs. Only four other second basemen had compiled three such seasons in their careers and none of them did it for three consecutive seasons. Uggla has had four straight seasons of 30-plus home runs, hitting a career-high 33 HR this past season.

Over his first five seasons, Dan Uggla has been incredibly durable, playing in least 146 games every season. In those five seasons, this is what an average Uggla season looks like:

155 games, .263 batting avg., 100 runs, 34 doubles, 31 HR, 93 RBI.

The man considered to be the premier second baseman in the National League is Chase Utley. Over Utley's six full seasons in the majors, his offensive numbers look quite similar to Uggla's:

145 games, .298 batting avg., 105 runs, 36 doubles, 27 HR, 95 RBI.

Despite the similar numbers (other than batting average), Uggla has always been a distant second to Utley in discussions about who the best second baseman in the National League is. It seems like the photo below is the only way Uggla can get close to Utley in anything.

Photo by Jennifer Zambri-Dickerson

Uggla has been a two-time All-Star and won his first Silver Slugger Award in 2010. Although he is a human windmill, striking out 149 times last season and averaging 152 strikeouts per season over his career, he always draws his share of walks, averaging 82 walks per year since 2008. During the same three-year time period, his on-base percentage was .361. By comparison, Mets' leadoff hitter Jose Reyes, whose primary job as a leadoff hitter is to get on base, has never had a single season on-base percentage higher than .358.

Here's one other important fact about the man whose parents gave him a middle name of "Cooley". His favorite ballpark to hit in is Atlanta's Turner Field.

In 45 career games in Atlanta, Uggla has absolutely raked. He's a .354 hitter at Turner Field, picking up 16 doubles, 12 homers and 36 RBI there. Since he will now be playing 81 games in Atlanta, that projects to 29 doubles, 22 HR and 65 RBI for the 2011 season, which would be a good full season for a second baseman, let alone half a season's worth of games.

Basically, Uggla could have a monster season playing half his games in Atlanta, especially considering that he will be eligible for free agency after the 2011 season.

What about the guys Atlanta gave up for Uggla? How do they stack up against the Cooley Man?

Well, Omar Infante has been in the major leagues since 2002. Only once has he reached double figures in home runs (he hit 16 HR in 2004 for the Detroit Tigers). In that one "magical" season, Infante also reached his career high in RBI, with 55.

Considering that so many people were talking about Infante in 2010 when he "earned" his first All-Star appearance, he only finished the season with eight home runs and 47 RBI. Uggla had reached those numbers by the All-Star Break.

Yes, Infante hit a career-high .321 this past season, but that lofty batting average only raised his career mark to .274. Prior to the 2010 season, Infante's career batting average was .264, or one point higher than Uggla's .263 career average. Also, Infante has never met a pitch he wouldn't swing at, as evidenced by his career .319 on-base percentage.

Before the 2010 season, Infante's career OBP was .310, a number that should be familiar to both Mets fans and Braves fans, for that is the same career on-base percentage of a Mr. Jeffrey Braden Francoeur.

So clearly, Infante is an inferior offensive player when compared to Dan Uggla. That must mean the other player in the trade, Mike Dunn, must be a stud pitcher, right? Not quite.

Most people reporting the deal made note of the fact that the left-handed Dunn was 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA in 25 games for the Braves. He also struck out 27 batters in 19 innings. When you look at those numbers, he looks like a promising young pitcher. But there's one thing they neglected to mention.

Mike Dunn makes Oliver Perez look like a master of control.

In those same 19 innings, Dunn walked 17 batters. In four innings with the Yankees in 2009, Dunn walked five batters in four innings. Therefore, in his brief major league career, Dunn has walked 22 batters in 23 innings, which averages out to 8.6 walks per nine innings. That's actually worse than Oliver Perez's walks per nine inning ratio over the past two seasons (7.9 BB/9 innings in 2009 and 8.2 BB/9 innings in 2010).

In fact, Dunn looks like he's getting worse as he gets older. His control was actually very good in the minor leagues in 2007. He walked 45 batters in 144.2 innings playing A-ball for the Charleston River Dogs (a Yankees affiliate). His average of 2.8 walks per nine innings would be an excellent ratio in the major leagues. However, from season to season, that number has gone up at an alarming speed.

In 2008, Dunn pitched 18.1 fewer innings than in 2007, but walked 14 more batters (4.2 BB/9 innings). In 2009, he pitched in Double-A, Triple-A and briefly in the major leagues with the Yankees. Combining his minor league and major league numbers, he pitched 77.1 innings and walked 51 batters (5.9 BB/9 innings). Then came his 2010 season, where we walked almost a batter per inning for the Atlanta Braves.

So basically, this is what the trade boils down to. The Atlanta Braves are trading away a player who gets on base at a Jeff Francoeur rate with similar power numbers to Jason Bay's 2010 season, along with a pitcher that has studied and graduated with honors from the Oliver Perez Pitching Academy. In return they get the only second baseman in major league history to hit at least 30 HR in four consecutive seasons, who is coming off his best season in the majors, with career-highs in batting average (.287), home runs (33) and RBI (105). This is also a player who has always performed well at his new home ballpark, Turner Field.

Why am I making such a big deal about this? Because the Mets still have Luis Castillo as their second baseman.

Neither Uggla nor Castillo are great defensive second basemen, although Castillo used to be. But surely, the run-production contributed by Uggla more than makes up for his Hole-In-The-Glove caliber defense he provides. What can Castillo contribute offensively? He gets hit by pitches occasionally.

In 2007 and 2008, the Marlins put the final nails in the Mets' coffins. The Mets nailed their own coffins throughout the entire 2009 and 2010 seasons. Now it looks like the Marlins are doing it to the Mets again, this time in the off-season, by sending one of the best offensive second basemen in recent history to their division rivals for Jeff Francoeur and Oliver Perez clones.

The Marlins traded away Luis Castillo to the Minnesota Twins after the 2005 season to make room for Dan Uggla. It's too bad the Mets couldn't think to do the same in 2010.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

American Idol Judges Choose Next Mets Manager

The Mets have interviewed a number of internal and external candidates in the hopes of finding a new manager to replace the departed Jerry Manuel. There have been many rumors and speculation about who that man will be. New Mets GM Sandy Alderson has stated that he would like the new manager in place within the next few weeks, but has given no word as to who he's leaning towards as his choice.

So who should be the next Mets manager? There are many candidates, but only one will be the next manager. Perhaps we should have the judges at American Idol handle the interviews, since they are "experts" at deciding who in America has talent. Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, the floor is all yours.

Randy: Who's our first candidate?

Steven: I believe it's Bob Melvin.

Randy: Mr. Melvin.

Bob Melvin: Hi, I'm Bob Melvin. I've managed the Seattle Mariners and the Arizona Diamondbacks, winning 93 games in 2003, which was my first season in Seattle, and 90 games for Arizona in 2007. In fact, when my Diamondbacks finished 90-72 in '07, that represented the best overall record in the National League.

J-Lo: I like that team, the Diamondbacks. You know, I've got back too, and it's worth more than a diamond.

Randy: Sweet sassy molassy, girl!

Bob Melvin: I don't know what that means, but did I get the job?

Steven: We'll get back to you. Right now, I want to talk about Jennifer's back.

Randy: That's a lot of back. Speaking of back, our next candidate is Wally Backman.

Steven: Actually, I heard he's no longer a candidate.

J-Lo: Why not? I remember liking him when I was a Fly Girl.

Randy: You're still fly, girl.

J-Lo: Ay, Papi!

Steven: We can continue this discussion later, but right now let's talk about Joe Torre. He's had an incredible managerial career, winning four championships with the Bronx Bombers and then leading the Dodgers to consecutive NLCS appearances.

J-Lo: Did you say Bronx Bombers? You know, I'm from the Bronx. I'm from the block.

Steven: Which block is that?

J-Lo: You know, Papi. The block. The one right off the 6 train.

Randy: You can pull into my stop anytime.

Steven: Randy, we're discussing managers here.

J-Lo: Who's managing the Yankees now? Isn't it that Joe Hibachi guy?

Steven: Joe Girardi.

Randy: I could go for some hibachi right now.

J-Lo: Whatever, Papi. Yeah, that's who the Mets should get. Joe Torre is kind of a viejo right now.

Randy: What's a viejo?

J-Lo: An old man. What is he, like 50 now?

Steven: He's 70. Actually, I'm 62. Does that make me a viejo?

J-Lo: Whatever, Steven. I know what you're trying to do. You just want me to stop talking about Joe Torre because his teams always beat up on your Red Sox.

Steven: We took care of that in 2004. I remember that year so well. In fact, I was just reminiscing about that season the other day with my fellow Red Sox fan, Ben Affleck.

J-Lo: Don't even go there, Steven.

Steven: Why? Still bitter about Gigli?

J-Lo: Steven!

Steven: Or the fact that he found a better woman who actually cared about the Red Sox?

J-Lo: Steven! Don't make me show you the Bronx!

Steven: Who are you? J-Lo or Bobby Bo?

Randy: Ladies, ladies, ladies. Please stop fighting! We're trying to choose a manager here.

Steven: Dude, do I look like a lady?

Randy: Well, now that you mention it...

Clint Hurdle: Guys, I'm ready. Can I come out now?

Steven: See, Clint Hurdle knows I'm a guy.

J-Lo: Did he call me a guy too? He's fired!

Randy: Fired? We haven't even hired him yet, dawg.

J-Lo: Dawg? Oh, so you think I'm a b...

Clint Hurdle: Maybe I should come back some other time.

Steven: No, Clint. Stay. Tell us what you've got.

Clint Hurdle: Well, I managed the Colorado Rockies from 2002 to 2009 and led them to their first ever World Series appearance in 2007.

Steven: Where you were swept by my Red Sox. Ga-ga-ga-ga-GOW!!

Clint Hurdle: Is that why you wanted me to stay? To make fun of me for losing the World Series to Boston? You know, I also know the Mets organization, having played for them in the '80s and managed in their minor league system.

J-Lo: That viejo Torre also played for and managed the Mets.

Clint Hurdle: What's your point?

J-Lo: Well, he ain't getting no Mets job, so why should you?

Clint Hurdle: Why is Joe Torre's past relevant to my candidacy? What do you even know about baseball, Ms. Lopez?

Guest Judge: I've been saying it all along. There shouldn't be any women allowed to judge who gets to be in the Mets dugout.

Everyone: Who are you?

Guest Judge: I'm tonight's Guest Judge. Can I interest any of you in a Tootsie Pop?

Randy: Haven't I seen you on TV before?

Guest Judge: Yes.

Steven: You do those Just For Men commercials, right? Not that I need Just For Men.

Randy: You don't need it because it's for men.

Steven: Dude, I'm not a lady.

Randy: Dawg, you look like one.

Steven: Well, I'm not. Anyway, that is you in those commercials, isn't it?

Guest Judge: Yes.

J-Lo: Now I know who you are, Papi! You're Walt "Clyde" Frazier!

Guest Judge (shaking his head): And you wonder why I think women shouldn't be allowed to judge.

Clint Hurdle: Wait, didn't I play with you on the Mets?

Guest Judge: There you go, Clintie.

Clint Hurdle: Clintie?

Guest Judge: Sorry, I forgot you go by Clint now.

Steven: We beat Clintie in '07!

Clint Hurdle: Shut up, Steven!

Randy: Oh, wait. Now I know who you are. You're...

Guest Judge: That's right. I'm Keith Hernandez, legendary Mets first baseman.

J-Lo: Ha! Legendary first baseman? You couldn't get past first base with that chica from Seinfeld.

Keith: Miss Lo, that was a TV show and we were going by the script.

J-Lo: You can't fool me, Papi. I wouldn't have kissed you either.

Clint Hurdle: You know what? I don't even want this job anymore! I'd rather manage in Pittsburgh! Screw you guys! I'm going home!

Steven: Thanks, Clintie. And I say that for all of Red Sox Nation.

Clint Hurdle: Harumph!

Randy: So is there anyone left?

Steven: We have Terry Collins.

Randy: He's the guy Paul DePodesta endorses, right?

Steven: Right.

J-Lo: Endorsements? Speaking of endorsements, have you tried my newest fragrance? It's called...

Randy and Steven (in unison): No!

Keith: Doesn't anyone here care about hiring a manager?

J-Lo: Shut up, Walt "Clyde" Frazier!

Keith: I'm Keith Hernandez!

Randy and Steven (in unison): We know!

J-Lo: Just bring in Phil Collins already.

Keith: Terry Collins.

Steven: Su-su-sudio!

Randy: Sigh...Mr. Collins, please.

Terry Collins: Thanks, Randy. I'm Terry Collins. I've managed for six seasons in the major leagues, splitting my time between the Houston Astros and the Anaheim Angels. In five of those six seasons, I finished with a winning record. I'd like to bring that winning attitude back to New York.

Keith: Sir, have you ever won anything?

Terry Collins: My teams have competed for playoff spots almost every year.

Keith: But have you ever finished in first place?

Steven: My Red Sox finished in first place in 2007, when they beat out J-Lo's viejo to win the division title.

J-Lo: Joe Torre's not my old man.

Randy: I'd like to be your daddy.

Keith: Guys, guys. You too, Steven.

Steven: Everyone's a comedian here.

Terry Collins: Um, did I mention that Paul DePodesta likes me?

Randy: I don't know, dawgs. I guess we should hire Terry. Every other candidate walked out on us.

Keith: That's because all of you are incompetent fools.

J-Lo: Who are you calling incontinent?

Keith: My point exactly.

Steven: Maybe we should just let the fans vote.

Randy: If Simon was still around, he'd probably throw every manager off the show.

Keith: He should do the same with the judges.

J-Lo: As long as I get my money, honey.

Randy: What's that? Our time is up? Sorry, fellas, but we've got to wrap things up.

J-Lo: But I haven't talked about my new fragrance. It's called...

Keith: No fragrance is going to cover up the fact that these judges stink.

Randy: You got a problem with us, Dawg?

Keith: Did you choose a manager yet?

Randy: No.

Keith: Isn't that what you're paid to do?

J-Lo: Shut up, Walt "Clyde" Frazier!

Steven: Guys, I've got to get back on tour. All this fighting is messing up my vocal cords.

Randy: Fine! Go!

Steven: Fine!

J-Lo: Fine!

Keith: Fine!

Randy: We're all leaving. Let Sandy Alderson hire a new manager. I've had it with this gig.

(Door slams shut as they all leave. Moments later, the door opens up again to reveal an older gentleman with glasses and a salt and pepper goatee peering in cautiously.)

Jerry Manuel: Uh, hello? Are you guys still hiring?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's A Bird! It's A Plane! It's The Super Mets Friends!

Greetings, true believers! Unless you've been living under a Sally Struthers-sized rock, by now you know that the Mets have undergone a complete overhaul in the front office.

First, Sandy Alderson joined the team as their general manager. He was then followed by former Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi. Now comes the news that former Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta has joined the Mets as vice president of player development and amateur scouting.

All three new hires have ties to the Oakland Athletics teams that were the focus of Michael Lewis' book, "Moneyball". Alderson served as A's GM from 1983-1997. Ricciardi was a minor league instructor and scout for Oakland from 1986-1996, before being promoted to the front office as Alderson's special assistant. DePodesta was the analytical mind who brought sabermetrics into the equation when he became the assistant to Oakland's GM Billy Beane in 1999.

In addition, all three men have shown that they can create something out of nothing, as Alderson and the other two all had a part in the transformation of the A's from a sub-.500 team to a perennial contender. (It is not known whether they were the ones who encouraged Mark McGwire to utter "by the power of Grayskull" sometime between his 98-pound weakling Rookie of the Year season in 1987 and his days as an andro-fueled behemoth a decade later.

So what is a possible explanation for the past successes of the trio of Alderson, Ricciardi and DePodesta? It appears that the threesome were inspired by superheroes and Saturday morning cartoons. Absurd? Not at all.

The 1970s cartoon, "Super Friends", featured a brother/sister superhero combo, Zan and Jayna, who were also known as The Wonder Twins. They were always accompanied by their pet monkey, Gleek.

The heroes were known for their shapeshifting abilities that they used in their quest for truth, justice and the cheesy '70s way. To use their powers, they would utter the words "form of _______", where whatever form they chose, that would be what they would transform into.

Sandy Alderson initiated the "Moneyball" way of thinking in Oakland and it was Paul DePodesta's statistical analysis that was used by the front office to determine who to draft and who to trade for. When Alderson became the CEO of the San Diego Padres, he made sure to bring DePodesta along for the ride.

Clearly, Alderson and DePodesta have been studying the ways of Zan and Jayna to become the Moneyball Twins. They have been inseparable since the '90s and have found a way to combat the traditional way of thinking in the front office with their extensive analytical procedures. When Alderson exclaimed "form of Paul Bunyan", Mark McGwire appeared. When the on-base percentage-loving DePodesta shouted "from of treadmill", the walking machine appeared in the forms of Jason Giambi and Nick Swisher.

Alderson's pet monkey in those years was J.P. Ricciardi. He assisted him in the front office and was elevated to director of player personnel once Alderson's understudy, Billy Beane became the A's general manager.

Now the Super Mets Friends are members of New York's front office, where they will try to mold a contending team with their powers to shift things around, but they must be careful with how they approach things.

For example, when Alderson hires a new manager, he might choose to say "form of fireball" and Waly Backman will appear. Of course, he must be careful to say that and not "form of firestorm", because then Francisco Rodriguez will show up with his boxing gloves on.

If DePodesta suggests that the Mets will benefit more if their walks go up, he must phrase his "form of _______" carefully or else Oliver Perez might show up.

If Ricciardi says anything...well...he's Gleek, so he's only there as a special assistant to Alderson. Despite his relatively unimportant sounding title, Ricciardi can still contribute to the franchise just like Gleek did to Zan and Jayna. He can be there to clean up any messes left by the Moneyball Twins if they make a decision they thought would help the Mets and ends up backfiring.

Of course, no mistakes should happen at the Hall of Just Us. After all, the Mets now have superheroes in the front office. They will make fans forget that the Legion of Doom (whose members include Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and the Roy Boys [Halladay and Oswalt]) is still the four-time defending NL East Champion, won't they?

One thing Alderson and his Merry Men should remember is that Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, et al. are still fighting for justice. Where are the Wonder Twins and Gleek now? Perhaps the Super Mets Friends should have a sense of urgency to make this team better sooner than later. A five-year plan (a la the one Frank Cashen successfully implemented in the early '80s) will not work with this incarnation of the Mets.

The Mets must begin to turn things around now. If not, the Super Mets Friends might be visiting the Wonder Twins and Gleek in limbo soon.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Broken News: The Mets Are Slashing And Dashing

It's time for a new edition of Broken News, where we report Mets news long after everyone else has beaten us to the punch. And no, that last sentence was not another jab at Francisco Rodriguez. (But that one was.)

Today, we will talk about slashing and dashing. No, not slashing like in hockey, Nightmare On Elm Street movies or the former Guns N' Roses guitarist. And no, not dashing like what you do in a one-horse open sleigh while traveling through the snow.

We're talking about the Mets doing two things. They slashed their ticket prices for 2011 and they picked up Jose Reyes' option so he could dash around the bases for another season.

First, the Mets reduced the prices of their tickets to 2011 games by an average of 14%. In addition, the team will now offer their season ticket holders and plan holders an additional 10% off their individual game tickets. That's all fine and dandy to a former plan holder such as myself, but what about those fans who don't invest in plans?

Those fans are more than likely to purchase tickets for Promenade Level seats to get the most bang for their buck. So what did the Mets do? They RAISED the prices of those seats.

Executive VP for business operations Dave Howard made sure to point out that the cheapest Promenade Level seats were only raised by $1 (from $11 to $12 on value days). However, he failed to mention that other seats on other days were increased by more than a dollar.

For example, seats in the Promenade Reserved Infield that sold for $35 in 2010 (Opening Day and the Subway Series) will now cost $45 to purchase. Also, premium games (formerly known as "gold") that sold for $30 per ticket last season will now suck $35 from your wallet.

In 2010, only four games were priced at $35 in the Promenade Reserved Infield. The 2011 season will feature 26 games where those same seats will be priced at $35 and higher (22 premium games and four marquee games). These are the seats that are more in demand with fans who can't usually afford to go to many games. So the Mets decide to raise those prices? And they also fail to mention that when discussing the new ticket prices? What's up with that? In fact, the only place where you would even notice those increases is on this confusing seating and pricing chart.

The most drastic price cuts were in Excelsior Level and Field Level seats, also known as the seats that Oliver Perez should be sitting in instead of the Mets dugout. Seats in the Left Field Reserved area, where the Mets have been known to hit a home run every month or so, saw an average decrease of 20% in ticket prices, while the Metropolitan Box Silver area had prices cut by a whopping 47%. Of course, the bigger the price drop, the less of a chance the common fan was going to be sitting in those seats anyway. For fans such as myself, the Metropolitan Box Silver is more of an urban legend than a reality. In fact, I can't even prove that section even exists. I sure as hell have never been anywhere near it.

The bottom line is that the Mets are trying to make it seem like they're doing us a favor, when all they did was make it easier for the fan who was already investing a ton of money on their shoddy product, while making it more difficult for the more financially strapped fan who would go to an occasional game in the Promenade Level.

Ya gotta believe in Selective Slashing.

In better news, Jose Reyes' option for the 2011 season was picked up by the Mets. It will pay the 27-year-old Reyes $11 million next season. The move also paves the way for a potential contract extension for the veteran shortstop (and perhaps a less itchier cup).

Although Reyes missed about a month's worth of games in 2010, he still managed to hit .282, with 50 extra-base hits (29 doubles, 10 triples, 11 home runs) and 30 stolen bases. As long as Reyes remains healthy, he will continue to be a spark plug at the top of the batting order.

Since he is playing for a new contract, Reyes will have an extra incentive to have a career year. He has seen other National League shortstops parlay breakout seasons into lucrative long-term contracts (Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki both received six-year deals from the Marlins and Rockies, respectively), so a banner year could do the same for Reyes, especially with so many hefty contracts coming off the books after the 2011 season.

The Mets do not have a shortstop in the minor leagues who can give you the solid defense and dynamic offense that Reyes can provide. A long-term deal with Reyes would help both player and organization, especially since the Mets would suffer a significant dropoff in production at the shortstop position if Reyes is no longer a Met in 2012.

If the Mets want to put more fans in those slashed seats, they need to make sure Jose Reyes will be dashing around the bases at Citi Field for more than just the 2011 season. They'll also need to continue to address the missing pieces, such as finding the best manager to lead the team and change the negative attitude into a winning one.

The Mets are a business, just like every other major league team is. What's one of the main objectives of a business? To make as much money as possible. So it makes plenty of sense (cents?) for the Mets to slash and dash in the hopes that it leads to a stash of cash.

Cheaper tickets (mostly)? A motivated Jose Reyes? It looks like the fans will have a reason to come out to Citi Field other than to boo Oliver Perez.