Browsing Posts in Mets

New York baseball fans are in for a treat as two Cy Young hopefuls take in the mound in Flushing. Max Scherzer (18-1, 2.82 ERA) will face off against righty sensation, Matt Harvey (9-4, 2.25 ERA). Scherzer and Harvey faced off earlier this summer at the All-Star Game. Harvey is hopeful that his squad will defend its home field.

Scherzer has won five straight decisions, including an eight inning, five-hit performance last weekend against the Kansas City Royals. Scherzer is a perfect 7-0 with a 2.29 ERA in 12 road starts. More impressively, Scherzer posts a tidy 1.74 ERA on the road. The Mets, who have lost eight of their last 12 games, may have trouble scoring runs against the AL’s leading Cy Young candidate.

If Scherzer wants to pick up his 19th victory, he’ll need his offense to score runs off against Matt Harvey. Harvey, who has thrown 171 innings, has only won one of his last five starts. Harvey has uncharacteristically given up six earned runs over last twelve innings. The Mets plan to cap Harvey’s innings at 210-215 innings, so he may be starting to show some signs of fatigue. Still, Harvey is a gamer and has shown he can step-up in big spots.

Pick: Once again, we’re getting some decent value with the Tigers, so we’re taking their money line (-140). Matt Harvey should keep his team in the game, but Miguel Cabrera and co. should be able to scratch a few runs across, which should be more than enough for Mr. Scherzer.

Shortly after signing Daisuke Matsuzaka to their major league roster, the New York Mets (58-67) will ask him to stop the deadly Detroit Tigers (74-53) lineup. Matsuzaka will make his first major league start in almost a year against a star studded Tiger lineup. After losing both Jennry Meija and Jeremy Hefner, the Mets are hoping the 32-year-old will inject some life into the Met rotation. Matsuzaka spent the early part of this season on Cleveland’s Triple A roster, posting 5-8 record with a 3.92 ERA. 

Last year with Boston, Matsuzaka went 1-8 with a 8.28 ERA in just 11 starts. Despite helping the Red Sox to the World Series title in 2007, Matsuzaka is just 17-21 since 2009. Matsuzaka boasts a career 4-1 record in six starts against Detroit, but Detroit’s big hitters have had some success. Miguel Cabrera (4 for 9, 1 HR) and Prince Fielder (2-3, 2 doubles). Luckily for Matsuzaka, the Detroit offense has struggled recently, hitting just .228 with runners in scoring position over their last 14 games (6-8 record). 

Detroit will counter with righty, Doug Fister (10-6, 3.63 ERA). Fister has struggled recently, posting a 0-1 record and a 4.42 ERA over his last three starts. Fister has never faced the Mets and the Tigers are 0-4 on the road in Interleague play. 

Pick: We’re getting some value, so today’s pick is the Detroit Tigers money line (-165). The Tigers are coming off a frustrating home loss to the Minnesota Twins and the Mets have dropped six of their last ten games. The Tigers should find some early success against the erratic Daisuke.  

The nature of the New York Mets this season has been to ride the right arm of Matt Harvey and hope that everyone else manages to lead this team to .500 ball. Unfortunately, the first part remains true, while the second part remains incredibly suspect. New York won Harvey’s start against the Chicago White Sox this week, a complete game shutout in a 1-0 game, while the rest of the team continues to muddle around.

In games that Harvey has started this year, the Mets are 6-1. They are 8-16 with everyone else on the hill.

This weekend, Harvey will get the start on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates against Jeanmar Gomez in a game that he will once again be expected to win. The questions though, cycle around the games on Friday and Saturday at Citi Field.

It’s going to be tough to make your MLB picks on the Metropolitans in either of these games even though they are at home and will likely be underdogs in a both efforts. Shaun Marcum has only made three appearances thus far this season for the Mets, and he has a 7.20 ERA and a higher WHIP at 2.10 than Harvey has as his ERA. He’ll face off with Wandy Rodriguez on Friday night.

The Pirates have yet to announce who will be starting on Saturday, but regardless of who they throw, they will probably have the edge over Jon Niese. Though Niese has pitched well against Pittsburgh in his career, posting a  2-0 record and a 1.93 ERA, he is coming off of a horrid start against the Atlanta Braves. Niese walked six batters and allowed seven runs in four innings of work. It’s tough to want to back a guy that hasn’t won a game since April 12th, hasn’t won a game without getting at least seven runs of support this year, and has almost as many walks (19) as strikeouts (20).

The New York Mets were never really expected to be one of the better teams in baseball this year, but they probably didn’t expect to be as suspect in the starting rotation as they have been in years. They have two more games on Wednesday and Thursday against the Colorado Rockies before coming home to take on the Washington Nationals, and Manager Terry Collins will have to be careful with his rotation by the end of the weekend.

It is clear that Jonathon Niese and Matt Harvey are the top two pitchers to make your MLB picks on for the Mets. Harvey has been the craze at the outset of the season after he allowed just two runs in his 22.0 innings of work thus far this year. The big righty is one of the few pitchers in the game to be 3-0 after his first three starts on the campaign.

Niese will throw Wednesday against Jon Garland. Harvey has a tough matchup as well, opposing Jhoulys Chacin, who has started off this season at 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA in his own right.

New York had better pick up its wins in Colorado, because winning games at home against the Nats will be tough. Washington is setup to throw its best three arms in this series, starting with Stephen Strasburg on Friday and continuing with Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman this weekend. All three pitchers are going to be going on six days of rest.

The Mets, on the other hand, are going to be a bit strapped. Jeremy Hefner is going to have to start one of the three games of this series, and from there, things will be interesting. Both Dillon Gee and Aaron Laffey threw in Wednesday’s double header, and one might have to pitch on three days of rest on Sunday. New York is going to have to call upon its AAA team to provide a starter for Saturday unless one of the long relievers in the bullpen is going to give it a go. Either way, this is setting up to be a long weekend of games in the Big Apple. 

The New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies are just getting a chance to know one another, and they are going to be engaged in MLB betting action for the third time this season on Wednesday night. This is the rubber match of this series after the two teams split the opening two games here at Citizens Bank Park on Monday and Tuesday.

New York has at least had a relatively consistent offense this year. Last night’s 8-3 loss was more a product of good pitching by Cliff Lee than anything else, but the Mets have still put 46 runs on the board this season (5.75 runs per game). That production should help young Jeremy Hefner on Wednesday.

Hefner only came up to the bigs for the first time last year, and he went 4-7 with a 5.09 ERA. In fairness to him though, he also allowed seven runs without retiring a batter against these very same Phillies, and had that outing not happened, his ERA would have been a respectable 4.42 instead. The righty was a tough luck loser in his first game of the year against the Miami Marlins when he allowed just one run in six frames.

The Phils are going to counter with Kyle Kendrick. Once thought to be one of the prospects that would help carry Philadelphia to a number of championships, Kendrick really hasn’t panned out all that well. He has just 56 wins under his belt in six seasons, and he had an ominous start to the season when he allowed five runs in 5.2 innings against the Kansas City Royals.

The last time Kendrick faced the Mets, he allowed just two runs in 7.2 innings, striking out six men without issuing a walk. However, the righty did allow two home runs, and he has had problems with the long ball in his last eight outings, allowing nine dingers in that stretch dating back to last year.

The New York Mets have started off Spring Training with a bit of a thud, going just 2-5 without generating much in the way of offense. They’ve had some setbacks for sure over the course of the first few games of the Spring, and that is to be expected for a team that is really being cut and pasted together and built for the future. Making MLB picks on the Mets won’t be easy all season long, and the rest of Spring Training isn’t going to be any easier.

The news this week already started lousily, as Manager Terry Collins thinks that there is “almost no chance” that Johan Santana starts the season anywhere but the disabled list. Santana is still coming off of offseason surgery, and he really doesn’t look like a man that is ready to get back out there and throw on opening day. This won’t be the week that we see Santana back in real live action, though just a few steps in the right direction would be encouraging for the man that threw the first no-hitter in Mets’ history last season.

On deck over the course of the next few days is a very eclectic schedule. Matters start on Wednesday with a visit from the Venezuelan World Baseball Classic team, and from there, it’s back to regular Grapefruit League action. New York will face the Miami Marlins and Houston Astros at home on Thursday and Saturday and go on the road to the Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals, the Tigers again, and the Washington Nationals to get us to the middle of next week.

New York has lost back to back Spring Training games, dropping to the Marlins and the Atlanta Braves on Sunday and Monday of last week.

Even without hockey, with hoops up and football crashing, NY talk radio has had more than enough topics to keep busy. Good thing for the Mets (and Yanks) who have little positive to report.

Of course we don’t know what the club will be until they get to spring training. But the Mets have a lot of work to do to get beyond where the whole organization has been trending in recent years.

On the plus side of the ledger, the installment of Sandy Alderson, his braintrust and Terry Collins has solidified what had been rocky baseball leadership. They seem to have a plan, although what that is they haven’t declared. We suspect it’s stripping down and rebuilding although they’re afraid to say it. I do believe that Mets fans would be relieved to know there’s actually a plan (instead of just putting David Wright, cheap retreads and AAAA players out there).

On the other side you’ve got the House of Wilpon, teaming up with Bernie Madoff, legal and financial problems, turning into a small market franchise at big market prices, badmouthing their star players like Wright and Dickey (who do they think they are the Red Sox?).

Fans have not taken well to the recent fortunes as the attached chart from businessinsider.com shows. There is an aggregate 44.5% attendance slide over the past 4 years despite the shiny new Citi Field:

While reliable historical TV ratings are difficult to come by, according to sportsbusinessdaily.com the Mets have a 2.3 share in their local market, which is the 7th worst in MLB as of 2011.

It would seem that the Mets (and the Yanks) had terrible timing with the new ballparks but also badly overreached in terms of prices and amenities. It’s a given that their big revenues now come from local cable. And they may actually optimize their gate by higher prices and lower attendance. But it can never be a good thing for the ‘brand’ when you’re losing your fan base.

Personally I think the Wilpon’s will have a hard time ever getting Mets fans to warm up to them but giving their fans an actual reason to come out to the park would be a start.

Dave Graziano also blogs at BigDogSportsBlog.com about current sports news and opinion topics

Over the last two months, the Mets and R.A. Dickey danced around a contract extension. Dickey, who is under contract for 2013, was seeking a two-year, $25 million contract extension, but the Mets were reluctant to offer it. While fans may never know why Dickey wasn’t offered an extension, a few scenarios come to mind. The Mets may not trust their 38-year-old knuckle baller to repeat his past success. The Mets may not be ready to win. Maybe it’s a combination of both. The Blue Jays, however, didn’t have any reservations about Dickey. The Blue Jays essentially moved ‘All-In’ by trading for Dickey, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, and Mark Buerhle. The Blue Jays believe they’re ready to win, so the ‘risk’ associated with Dickey is a moot point.

To acquire Dickey, the Blue Jays surrendered their top prospect, catcher Travis d’Arnaud and Single A pitcher, Noah Syndergaard. Last season, Baseball America ranked d’Arnaud as the 17th best prospect in baseball. d’Arnaud missed the majority of the 2011 season with a knee injury. When healthy, d’Arnaud played for AAA Las Vegas and hit 16 home runs in 279 at-bats. d’Arnaud’s strike out-to-walk ratio was 3:1, but his power is legitimate. Syndergaard is extremely young, so it’s unfair to make any assessments. 

Dickey was under contract for 2013, so the Blue Jays and Dickey agreed to a two-year extension. The Blue Jays essentially traded their top prospect and a raw pitching prospect for three years of Dickey. When evaluating trades, it’s impossible to compare ‘apples to apples’. However, several top pitchers were traded over the last five years. Trades for Johan Santana, Roy Halladay, and Cliff Lee come to mind. While all three pitchers were much younger and have completely different make ups, the Jays acquired the oldest player and issued the shortest contract. Let’s look back on the three trades and draw some conclusions:

Trade #1 (February 2008):
Mets Receive: Johan Santana
Twins Receive: Deolis Guerra, Carlos Gomez, Kevin Mulvey, and Phillip Humber

At the time, Baseball America ranked these players as the Mets’ #2, #3, #4, and #7 prospects. Guerra was the prized pitching prospect, but has yet to appear in the Major Leagues. The other three prospects are no longer with the Twins. The Twins acquired a bushel of top prospects, but this trade simply didn’t work out. One could also argue Santana’s 6-year, $137 million contract hasn’t worked out for the Mets. Santana has won just 46 games in five seasons and missed the entire 2011 season.

Trade #2 (July 2010):
Rangers Receive: Cliff Lee
Mariners Receive: Justin Smoak and Mark Lowe

This trade may not be the best comparison. The Rangers traded their top prospect, Smoak, for a half season of Lee. Lee helped Texas win its first American League pennant, but declined Texas’ contract extension and re-joined the Phillies. Since joining the Mariners, the 25-year-old Smoak has failed to meet expectations. Known for his power, Smoak has hit just 39 home runs in 1,200 at-bats. Safeco Park is a pitcher’s park, but Smoak’s numbers have not increased on the road. Smoak’s name continues to pop up in trade rumors, so it’s obvious Seattle is growing impatient. Meanwhile, Texas replaced Smoak’s production with a combination of Mike Napoli, Mitch Moreland, and Michael Young, so it’s safe to say Texas won this trade.

Trade #3 (December 2009):
Phillies Receive: Roy Halladay
Blue Jays Receive: Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, and Travis d’Arnaud (!!!)

Talk about irony. At the time, Baseball America ranked these three players as the Phillies’ #2,#3, and #4 prospects. Drabek was the prized pitching prospect, checking in at #25 overall. Taylor was ranked #29 overall while d’Arnaud was ranked #81 overall. Prior to the trade, Halladay posted four consecutive seasons 16+ wins, 220+ innings, and annual Top 5 Cy Young finishes. The Phillies and Halladay agreed to a three-year, $60 million contract extension. Halladay won the NL Cy Young Award in 2010 and finished second in 2011. The Blue Jays were not in a position to win or extend Halladay, so they acquired Philadelphia’s best prospects. However, those prospects have failed to make an impact. d’Arnaud was flipped for Dickey and Drabek is 8-15 with a 5.34 ERA in 30 career starts. Drabek is only 24-years-old, but given Toronto’s busy off-season, Drabek is no longer a consideration for the starting rotation. Taylor flamed out in Toronto, but was acquired by Oakland.

Conclusions

It’s really, really difficult to compare trades. Each prospect is unqiue and each pitcher has a different skill set. Santana, Lee, and Halladay were all at least five years younger than Dickey, but Dickey has the least amount of wear and tear. Teams are willing to give up their best prospects for a shot at winning in the short-term. Overall, those decisions seemed to pay off. While prospects provide hope and short-term cost saving solutions, most don’t pan out. Last season, Dickey figured out how to strike out hitters with his knuckleball. Pitchers don’t strike out 200+ batters by mistake, so Dickey’s 2012 Cy Young campaign was no fluke.

Can Dickey build upon this success in 2013? I think so. Dickey is a unique case because we don’t have a true comparable. If anything, Dickey could provide Ace-type production at a fraction of the cost. If his success doesn’t translate, Toronto’s financial committment isn’t huge and they did not surrender a ‘Can’t Miss’ prospect for him. In addition, it’s never a good sign when a ‘top prospect’ is traded twice in a three year span. d’Arnaud was hand picked by Toronto, so it’s a little surprising that they gave up on him already. d’Arnaud’s power seems legit, but I’m skeptical. It’ll take years to determine which team won this trade, but if I had to bet on it, I’d take the Blue Jays.

Octagon passed this event on to me and it’s for a great cause, so I had to post it. Check the banner below, but all proceeds will benefit Solving Kids’ Cancer & Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative.

On July 17th of last season, the first-place Phillies strolled out of Citi Field having taken 2 of 3 from the Mets, and widening their NL East lead over their rivals to a comfortable 12 games.  A predictable outcome during what culminated in a 102-win season for those Fightin’ Phils.

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