NY Sports Dog: February 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

An Young Ha Say Yo!

Tip of the cap to Mike Silva this morning for a little blurb about Korean Mets.

I was fortunate to live in Korea for 5 years of my adult life, and I have to say that they are incredible people with a real joy for life that most Americans don't realize.

Americans tend to think of Koreans as peaceful and docile folks who are overly polite, etc....in other words, the typical Asian stereotype.

The truth of the matter is that Koreans are a physical people from a warring country with many great fighters, a nice little mean streak for any enemy, and a great bit of joy and love for their friends (few friends actually as they are fiercely independent). Their society dates back many thousands of years, they are the most literate people on the planet, regularly finish at the top of the world rankings in education, and have one of the most robust and thriving economies in the world. And....they actually do it the hard way, with some fierce in-fighting, a bit of a controlling government, and a man-a-mano style that breeds competition with each other.

I like this analogy for how I view Asia:

There is a burning building...in the first scenario everyone in the building is Chinese--when they smell the smoke they all get in a line and swiftly leave the building, everyone surviving. In the second scenario all the people are Japanese, they also calmly line up, oldest to youngest, ladies and children before the young men, and swiftly leave the building. In the third scenario they are all Koreans, and when they smell smoke they push and shove and all fight for the exit...the results are not good.

Anyway, thanks to Mike for the video, which I've put below...it is a great one, and I encourage you to watch it.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Jeff Francoeur is Optimistic...I Agree (a little)

The always excellent Kevin Kernan has a nice piece on Jeff Franceur's optimism going forward for 2010.

Francoeur has been something of a tough case for Mets fans, especially those of us who like more advanced stats.

The good: Francoeur was a very welcome shot in the arm when he came over late last year...he's like a permanent 5-hour energy drink. He also has the ability to relax those around him, plays decent (albeit overrated) defense, and he certainly has life in the bat. Lastly, he is extremely durable, can go out there every day and hits lefty's like an all-star.

The bad: It all centers around his inability to get on base. Francoeur has a lifetime .311 OBP in almost 3,000 big league plate appearances.

So why should we be as optimistic as Francoeur?

First off, he has steadily cut down on his Ks.

In the past 4 seasons his K numbers have showed a steady decline: 132, 129, 111, 92

His SO% has decreased in each of his 5 big league campaigns: 21,2%, 19.2%, 18.5%, 17.0%, 14.6%

What hasn't changed, however, are the key stats that lead to a decent on-base percentage.

His pitches per plate appearance have remained steady at around 3.4 per plate appearance. It's pretty tough to take walks with those numbers, but more importantly, Francoeur doesn't allow himself enough patience to wait on the most hittable pitch in an at-bat.

So the optimism must remain "cautious" at this point. Francoeur did make better contact with the Mets than he had in previous Brave campaigns. His batting average and slugging jumped by leaps and bounds, and he certainly looked aggressive and confident at the plate.

If Howard Johnson's work, and Francoer's maturity, can harness the talent into a 25 HR, 90 RBI, .330 OBP type of player, than it is a win all around.

Francoeur is never going to get on base a ton--this we know--what we want is for him to get on base "enough" while providing a solid presence in the lower half of the lineup.

I am optimistic about that.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

LINK: Listen to the Josh Thole Interview

Thole answered a bunch of softball questions, but it was a good interview nonetheless.

He answers the Rod Barajas question very tactfully, saying whether or not Barajas was here, it wouldn't change his workouts and his approach.

Click here to listen to the interview.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mets Baseball Card of the Day: Boisclair, Youngblood and Foli

Hey my friends, it's Friday, so in honor of our "from Here to Opening Day" baseball card series, I give you a trio of Mets featured on two of the worst cards of all time.

First Bruce Boisclair: The card looks like a designer went to the studio and asked, "what are the two worst colors we could use for the Mets? I got it! Let's use crap brown and piss yellow. The best part is they have nothing to do with the Mets."

OK, he was rolling...and now came his moment of inspiration.

"Hey guys, let's do something totally unique on this one and use no effort or creativity while doing so. What about using an aluminum bat with electric tape on the handle? Yes, the one laying there next to the real bats--use that one. Then we'll put some crappy machinery in the background and position the player so we get a full view of thousands of empty seats."

Perhaps Boisclair should have used an aluminum bat..it may have helped him improve on these pedestrian stats.

So this is what we get--crap--and as I peruse some great Mets cards of the past we see this lack of inspiration over and over again (Felix Millan anyone? This card cracks me up.).

Even when the Met isn't the featured player on the card they seem to get the short end of the stick (so to speak).

Do you think Joel Youngblood ever fully recovered from this?

No card in history tops Joel Youngblood getting a Tim Foli mustache ride, and yes, Tim Foli had a long history with the Mets, including being the #1 overall pick in the 1968 draft.

Perhaps this card was his revenge?

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mets Baseball Card of the Day: 1984 Darryl Strawberry

Today's entry is the 1984 Darryl Strawberry.

1984 was Strawberry's second year in the big leagues, and it was a great one. After winning rookie of the year in 1983, Strawberry had anything but a sophomore lump, with 27 doubles, 26 homeruns, and 27 stolen bases.

His 127 OPS+ was excellent, and he led the National League in Power/Speed.

These terrific numbers for the 22-year old Strawberry led to his first All-Star game and confirmed what everyone knew--Strawberry was one of the most gifted players the Mets had ever seen.

His career with the Mets seemed destined for Hall of Fame greatness, though sadly, drugs and alcohol issues would haunt Darryl for decades.

I have never publicly told this story, and at the time I didn't believe it.

In the Fall of 1986 I was home on my first military leave after joining the Air Force.

My friend and I went to the Mets v. Cubs game in which the Mets clinched the pennant...it was pandemonium. I met a girl at the game and quickly ditched my buddy (we're still friends to this day). The girl's friend was dating one of the Cubs, and they invited me to go out with the three of them after the game. The player wasn't a star, but if I printed his name you would know it.

After the four of us had dinner, we started partying and drinking and drinking and drinking some more, and the conversation got real loose. By this time the player and I were in "buddies for life" mode and quite impressed with ourselves. He thought I was a pilot (and I did nothing to disabuse him of this notion--remember, this was when "Top Gun" was all the rage), and I was thrilled to hang out with a ballplayer and two very nice looking ladies at an upscale Manhattan drinking establishment.

I asked the player about the Mets, and he told me about Strawberry and Gooden's heavy partying--everything, including out of control cocaine use--but I was 19, very naive, they were my heroes, and I didn't believe a word of it.

It was a great night, and at the time the closest I had ever been to hanging out with baseball players. As for the girl, well, the long distance thing didn't work out since I left shortly thereafter for a few months of training in California, and then went on to Korea for a two-year assignment.

When I found out Gooden entered rehab a few months later, in early 1987, I realized every word the player had told me was true. It was devastating to all Mets fans, and most us believe to this day that the drug and alcohol problems on those teams certainly prevented them from winning another World Series title or two.

Strawberry's best years, 1987 and 1988, were just tremendous, and he absolutely should have won the MVP award in 1988--Kirk Gibson's numbers pale in comparison.

We all remember Darryl fondly, but in the backs of our minds, we also always think, "What could have been?"

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Talk Me Off the Ledge: Rod Barajas

First it was Benjie Molina, now, according to Metsblog and other sources, it's Rod Barajas.

Why, why, why?

This is the same Rod Barajas that put up the following stats in 2009:

  • .213 BA and .241 OBP against RH pitching
  • .214 BA and .234 OBP at home
  • 8 walks in 299 plate appearances in the second half of the season
  • .163 BA and .195 OBP in games played that his team lost
  • .661 OPS on the year
If you're fooled by a few homeruns, please stop reading now and go back to your fingerpainting. This is a player that cannot get on base and doesn't have high pedigree fielding chops to make up for the lack of hitting. Is he an above average fielder? Yes, but not enough to offset the hole in the lineup his bat brings.

Can we not just stick with Thole and Santos or Blanco and call it a day? Do we truly need to chase after every marginal catcher in baseball?

Talk me off the ledge please.

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Mets Baseball Card of the Day: 1987 Gary Carter

From here to Opening Day, we'll present you with a Mets "Baseball Card of the Day" commemorating some great Mets of the past.

Today's entry is the wonderful 1987 Gary Carter--I just love cards with action photos, and this one is particularly poignant as it depicts Carter in his trademark lean forward follow through...if one had to guess, it looks like Carter just drilled a fastball to the gap.

Carter had something of an off-year in 1987 after driving in 100 or more runs the previous three seasons, but he was still a great player, albeit one that was certainly on the decline.

Keith Hernandez gets a ton of credit for the great mid-80s Met teams, but I always felt that the addition of Hall of Famer Gary Carter is what really put the Mets at the top of the baseball world.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Could The Mets Offense Really be This Good?

Looking at the Mets lineup, or the potential Mets lineup, there is definitely some reason for excitement.

In this analysis I looked back at the 2007-2009 seasons, viewed the player performances at Citi Field, looked at the stats and trends vs lefty's and righty's, and made a few assumptions based on the most likely starters and the published timetable for the return for Beltran.

Using an earlier article I wrote, we have the two-headed monster of Daniel Murphy and Fernando Tatis at first base.

I also think Josh Thole is going to win the primary catcher job and turn over partial duty to Santos or Blanco or whomever else looks the best in Spring Training.

Now many people have contacted me to tell me I'm crazy for thinking Thole wins the job, but read what Minaya said about the young catcher, and then think about Thole's bat in the lineup.

"I think Thole is going to compete for a job in spring training," Minaya said. "We'll see how he plays coming off a very good year. He led the league in hitting in Venezuela (winter ball). With Thole, where is he? Do we rush him? Does he take the job?"

Now obviously Angel Pagan is not going to bat cleanup, and Castillo will more than likely be shuffled around again, so the positions of the lineup are where the player, or duo, will likely get the majority of their at-bats in 2010.

So with that said, let's look at our lineup:

Reyes 688 113 204 37 19 16 68 66 82 56 15 0.297 0.358 0.475 0.833
Castillo 546 87 157 16 5
40 73
20 6 0.288 0.387 0.346 0.733
Wright 604 104 196 42 1 30 107 94 115 24 5 0.325 0.416 0.546 0.962
Pagan/Beltran 606 116 172 35
27 112 92 96 25 3 0.284 0.376 0.500 0.876
Bay 531 98
142 29 3 32 114 83
152 10 3 0.267 0.384 0.537 0.921
Murphy/Tatis 598 86 162 32 1 17
72 104 8
1 0.280 0.350 0.450 0.800
Francoeur 642 84 188 34
0 19 91 42 129 5 2 0.293 0.338 0.444 0.782
Thole/Santos 500 61 135 25 2 8
65 50 71 4 3 0.288 0.342 0.383 0.725

Not too shabby! A nice mix of power, speed, average, OBP and an absolute ton of doubles.

Adding Jason Bay was a terrific move. If the players in front of him all stay healthy and produce, the Mets will not have trouble scoring runs.

Sure, there are a ton of "ifs", but as we all know, hope truly does spring eternal.
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Mets Spring Training TV and Radio Schedule

Remember the old days when we NEVER got to see a Spring Training game?

This schedule is pretty packed with viewing and listening opportunities:

Mets 2010 Spring Training Broadcast Schedule

Date Opponent Time (ET) TV Radio

Tuesday, March 2 vs Braves 1:10 PM SNY
Wednesday, March 3 @ Braves 1:05 PM

Thursday, March 4 vs Cardinals 1:10 PM SNY
Friday, March 5 @ Cardinals 1:05 PM

vs Marlins 1:10 PM SNY
Saturday, March 6 @ Nationals 1:05 PM
WFAN 660
Sunday, March 7 vs Nationals 1:10 PM WPIX
Monday, March 8 @ Marlins 1:05 PM

Tuesday, March 9 vs Astros 1:10 PM SNY
Wednesday, March 10 @ Braves 1:05 PM

Thursday, March 11 vs Red Sox 1:10 PM SNY
Friday, March 12 @ Twins 1:05 PM

Saturday, March 13 vs Tigers 1:10 PM WPIX WFAN 660
Sunday, March 14 @ Marlins 1:05 PM
WFAN 660
Monday, March 15 vs Cardinals 1:10 PM SNY
Wednesday, March 17 @ Red Sox 1:05 PM

Thursday, March 18 @ Marlins 7:05 PM

Friday, March 19 vs Twins 1:10 PM SNY
Saturday, March 20 @ Cardinals 1:05 PM
WFAN 660
Sunday, March 21 vs Univ. of Michigan 11:10 AM

@ Astros 1:05 PM
WFAN 660
Monday, March 22 @ Nationals 1:05 PM

Tuesday, March 23 vs Braves 1:10 PM SNY, ESPN
Wednesday, March 24 vs Astros 1:10 PM SNY
Thursday, March 25 @ Cardinals 1:05 PM ESPN
Friday, March 26 @ Marlins 1:05 PM

Saturday, March 27 vs Nationals 1:10 PM WPIX WFAN 660
Sunday, March 28 vs Cardinals 1:10 PM WPIX WFAN 660
Monday, March 29 @ Nationals 1:05 PM

vs Marlins 1:10 PM

Tuesday, March 30 vs Cardinals 1:10 PM

Wednesday, March 31 vs Marlins 1:10 PM SNY

Thursday, April 1 vs Nationals 12:10 PM SNY WFAN 660
Friday, April 2 @ Rays 6:10 PM

Saturday, April 3 @ Orioles 1:05 PM
WFAN 660

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Interesting Facts: All-Time Mets Records

I'm getting a bit tired of the countdown to spring training writeups, and the various "who did well and poorly over the winter" rants bashing the Mets, so I've been going through the Mets all-time stats courtesy of the Ultimate Mets Database (Ultimatemets) and found some interesting facts.

Here are a few:

David Wright will break the Doubles record the first month of the season:

1. Ed Kranepool 225
2. David Wright 222
3. Howard Johnson 214
4. Edgardo Alfonzo 212
5. Mike Piazza 193
6. Darryl Strawberry 187
7. Cleon Jones 182
8. Mookie Wilson 170
9. Carlos Beltran 167
10. José Reyes 162

Feared slugger Rey Ordonez is 6th all-time in Mets Intentional Walks:

1. Darryl Strawberry 108
2. Howard Johnson 101
3. Ed Kranepool 89
4. Mike Piazza 82
5. Jerry Grote 70
6. Rey Ordóñez 64
7. Keith Hernandez 59
8. Rusty Staub 56
9. Todd Hundley 51
10. Cleon Jones 42

Lance Johnson has the highest Batting Average of any player with at least 500 Met at-bats:

Name AB R H 2B 3B HR TB Avg. Slg. OBP
Johnson 1. Lance Johnson 947 160 309 41 27 10 434 .326 .458 .369 Olerud
2. John Olerud 1662 288 524 109 5 63 832 .315 .501 .425
Wright 3. David Wright 3185 552 983 222 13 140 1651 .309 .518 .389 Davis
4. Tommy Davis 577 72 174 32 0 16 254 .302 .440 .342
Henderson 5. Rickey Henderson 534 106 159 31 0 12 226 .298 .423 .416 Hernandez
6. Keith Hernandez 3164 455 939 159 10 80 1358 .297 .429 .387
Lo 7. Paul Lo Duca 957 126 284 57 2 14 387 .297 .404 .334 Piazza
8. Mike Piazza 3478 532 1028 193 2 220 1885 .296 .542 .373
Alfonzo 9. Edgardo Alfonzo 3897 614 1136 212 14 120 1736 .292 .445 .367 Magadan
10. Dave Magadan 2088 275 610 110 11 21 805 .292 .386 .391

Pedro Feliciano will move into second place all-time this year in Pitching Appearances:

1. John Franco 695
2. Tom Seaver 401
3. Jerry Koosman 376
4. Jesse Orosco 372
5. Pedro Feliciano 367
6. Tug McGraw 361
7. Armando Benitez 333
8. Dwight Gooden 305
9. Aaron Heilman 305
10. Jeff Innis 288

Among pitchers with 50 decisions as a Met, Doc Gooden stands alone at the top of an impressive list of hurlers:

Name W L Pct.
Gooden 1. Dwight Gooden 157 85 .649 Reed
2. Rick Reed 59 36 .621
Seaver 3. Tom Seaver 198 124 .615 Cone
4. David Cone 81 51 .614
Darling 5. Ron Darling 99 70 .586 Leiter
6. Al Leiter 95 67 .586
Martinez 7. Pedro Martinez 32 23 .582 Saberhagen
8. Bret Saberhagen 29 21 .580
Aguilera 9. Rick Aguilera 37 27 .578 Jones
10. Bobby Jones 74 56 .569

Anyway, I highly encourage you to check out the Ultimate Mets Database (Ultimatemets)...you can seriously have hours of fun over there.

I know I do.

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