Monday, March 30, 2009

Freshman Orientation

I might be in the minority here but I wasn't...I wasn't...

I wasn't 100% in love with our new stadium.


But I think it might have been a combination of things.  One is: CitiField is DEFINITELY a work in progress.  This is what I've been telling myself and even Zoe, who had been a tour earlier, said they made even MORE progress from when she was there less than a month ago or so.

The second thing is: the visual masturbation to Ebbets Field.  I'm sorry.  I really am but no one can convince me that Fred Wilpon didn't have the Ebbets design in his head as a means to recapture his youth.  Well I guess that's what rich dudes can do - they want to build a lifesize replica of a place he had fond childhood memories, more power to him.  I ran into Dana Brand over at Shake Shack yesterday and he was a little sad about Shea being gone - and we were both kind of bowled over by the lack of Mets history.  Plenty of Dodger history.  I heard somewhere that the seats are a "nod" to the Polo Grounds (they had plain green seats).  But Mets stuff? We've been around 50 years, folks.  Dodgers and Giants haven't played in NY since the 50s.  Deal with it.  

Other things like the pennants, retired numbers are supposed to come in due time (ideally before opening day)...and we do have the old Home Run Apple which is pretty neat to see.  Plus the old skyline from the old scoreboard above the Shake Shack/Blue Smoke stand.  

I guess what I said last year is this is a new place for us to make new memories.  Kind of tough right now, especially since the season hasn't started yet.  And hey, even Shea took a while to make its own magic.  So again, a work in progress both visually AND historically.

The third thing is: this was a college baseball game.  Metal bats and all.  I think I might have a DIFFERENT opinion / vibe once my team is there.  Boom.

The fourth: there are still some Shea inefficiencies lingering over, like slow concessionaires, and not enough direction.  But then, most of the staff was MORE than happy to help you when you needed it.  Again, this could be different once the season actually starts.

Fifth and final(I think): doing the walk around the stadium is nice, it's like strolling a piazza (no pun intended).  But not so pretty when the Beirut Iron Triangle is staring at you.  Someone please claim Eminent Domain and put some nice bars around the stadium.  Make it more fan friendly.  

That's not to say that the place isn't nice.  It is.  When I visit the newer stadiums, there is a feeling of openness that Shea and even Yankee Stadium did not have, when you had to leave your seats.  Here you never feel like you are missing a part of the game.  I think Zoe and I sat in our seats for a half an inning total.  But I feel like I knew what was going on the whole time.  You don't have that claustrophobic feel like the old stadium.  

There are a few things to recommend though.  Metsgrrl suggests to go in through side gates (left field, right field) in her piece today - ANYPLACE but the rotunda.  I completely agree, as I decided to not go through that clusterfuck of an entrance and go in through the "VIP" access (which, for those who participate on Coopslist, is not part of my season plan unfortunately, but you can still get in from the side gates).  

I was a little disappointed that I couldn't do the initial walk through the front but I guess that will come in due time.  The crowd in front of the stadium reminded me of the crowd that would linger outside Gate E at old Shea.  You know those people - they get off the train and think they're going to fall off the face of the earth if they go to the other side of the stadium.  Since the train drops you off RIGHT in front of the main entrance, for the first few weeks at least, everyone is going to go in there.  So unless you are only going to one game this year, definitely take the walk getting in.

The concessions are also a plus but then again, anything after Shea's crapola is better!!  But I saw signs for clam chowder (yum!), tacos, nachos (although it will probably have that gross EZ-cheez as it normally does), multitude of burgers, pizzas, and Zoe even pointed out the fact that she can get relish from the hot dog stands instead of smuggling her own in!  Oh and of course Shake Shack and Blue Smoke and beer ($6.25 for a "large" draft - suh-weet)!!!!  See her column here with pricing and menu options.  Yum-o!

What else can I tell ya?  Visit Brooklyn Met Fan for another perspective and Metsblog had some good coverage on it today too.  I'll come around.  I know I will.  Especially since I've been screaming for a new stadium since 1994.  Well, maybe since 1986 and I had to use their Chernobyl-es que bathrooms.  

In the meantime, enjoy the view from the Coopseats.  There is a pretty sweet food court up in that area and all in all it's already won me over. Mr. E and I are in the Promenade for the next season at the very least.  Enjoy!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Coop's Keys to the Season - Part Four

Good day, Mets fans.  Coop here with the last segment of what she sees are the keys to the 2009 season.   This portion will focus on Carlos Beltran.  

It's a bit strange, you see, because I like to pick margin players, guys who make an impact on the side lines or not as every-day-key-players which we know Carlos to be.  But I picked him for several reasons.  

For one, this is the mid-term of his seven year contract signed in the 2005 offseason.  While his first year was a wash, we know what to expect of Beltran.   Whether or not he feels hurt, you can count on him for great defense, on-base performance, he can hit for power and has speed, and you can usually count on him for 100 RBIs.  

But this year is different, I feel, for Beltran.  I think he has something to prove.  Delgado has one more year with the team and to be honest, his hold as "team leader" has been somewhat diminished as he slumped for a season-and-a-half.  Wright is simply too young and too "golly gee-wow wee" to be the team leader.  Beltran is a smart player.  He leads by example.  Therefore, this is officially *his* team.

I remember when he first signed with the Mets, a friend of mine (who was a Chicago Cub fan who hated the Yankees - go figure) said that he wanted Beltran to sign with the Mets.  And he told me this for two reasons: One was - *I* (meaning: Coop being a Mets fan in the vicinity of idiot Yankee fans) didn't want him on the Yankees, now, did I?  

But the other reason was (much bigger) - Carlos Beltran has the chance to be the best player in baseball in a few years.

Read that again - best player in baseball.

2005  was a precipice year too for the Mets.  The changing of the guard had happened in the front office, but also on the field team, when BIC Willie took over (BMF loyalists know what that stands for) and when Mike Piazza's long-ass contract was up.  There was a feeling that - this was no longer Piazza's team.  You looked around Queens and all the Mets marketing materials, all pictures and focus was now on Beltran (Pedro too - but mostly on Beltran).  

Beltran was interesting though.  He was quiet, non-flashy and just performed what was expected of him, especially after 2005.  He never seemed to want to take responsibility for the team, and it showed back then.  The same could be said of Piazza.  While not the biggest Piazza aficionado, I loved him as much as any other Mets fan I guess.  My biggest gripe with him was that he was not a leader.  Neither was Beltran in his first year.  But I feel he may have felt timid with the changing of the guard.  Beltran's like that, I see.  He's a respectful kinda guy.

Then his friend Carlos Delgado was traded to the team, and Delgado really took that over as clubhouse leader.  This may have not been such a great thing as far as Beltran's development as a team leader.  But then, I think 2007 (or the way the year ended, to be blunt) also made him into a stronger man in that he didn't want to be known as they guy who was part of a team that was in the septic tank.  

In 2008, I think we got a glimmer of all that Beltran was capable of.  The last game of the season at Shea, he hit a home run.  I told Mr. E that the team would not lose.  I was what you call "wrong."  But Beltran showed me something that day.  He was no longer part of my Big Pussy's Posse.  He was one of us.  He didn't want to go down, and tried his best not to.  

This year is different for me though.  SNK and I have discussed this, and I believe in my heart of hearts that 2009 will be Beltran's "break-out" year as a Met.  

Huh?  Hasn't he had that already, but on the Royals or even the Astros and that monster postseason in 2004?

One could argue that he may never have "that" year and if he just performs consistently, he'll still be a "great."  But I disagree.  Beltran has something to prove this year.  He has two more seasons under contract plus he's shown interest in wanting to retire in New York.  Delgado has one more.  Beltran needs to step up, perform and BE the leader of this team.  Not just lead by example.  But be a mouthpiece to the media.  Not be afraid of his own talent.  And dammit, stop being a pussy.  

Because you heard it here first - Beltran will win the NL MVP this year.

(*crickets chirping*)

No, seriously.  Beltran's break out year is going to be 2009.  And my Cubs-fan-friend called it long ago.  That Beltran had the goods and eventually *would* be the best player in baseball.  

And this season, I think he'll be right.  You can throw Luis Castillo out there.  You can throw Daniel Murphy and Fernando Tatis and a brain-injured Ryan Church and a sucky Brian Schneider out there every day.  Additionally, we can have outstanding offense from David Wright and speed and hustle from Jose Reyes to balance out the shit.  

This team will be nothing without Carlos Beltran.  And I am saying he won't let us down, folks.

That's why I am calling Carlos Beltran the fourth-key to the Mets season in 2009.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Newest Addition to the Coop Summer Family...

Meet the newest member of the Coop Summer Family!!  

Aint he cute?!?  No seriously, this is the winning jersey from last month's survey.  And wouldn't you know, the Mets Clubhouse Store had these suckers 50% off because of the Shea emblem.  So I can honor both Shea AND Jose!

Jo-Shea! Jo-Shea-Jo-Shea-Jo-Shea.

Ok, I'm done.  

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Overdue for Your Review...

What's the best part of the offseason?  Well, baseball movies and baseball books, along with keeping warm with the Hot Stove and warming up with Spring Training.  

I will have a few more reviews in the upcoming weeks, but today's review is on the Maple Street Press 2009 Mets Annual, co-edited by Greg Spira and Matt Silverman.  With Johan Santana gracing the cover in his pitching stance, this is inviting for many reasons.

Writers in this issue include residents of Metsopotamia, including Greg from Faith and Fear (also due with his new book soon) and Ted "Flushing Fussing" Berg, and topics range from 2009 Mets, farming reports and historical Mets. 

"Shea Memoir" by Michael J. Bielawa particularly stood out for me.  Since this is a blog of mostly memories and trying to describe the almost indescribable in sharing games with total strangers as well as family, Bielawa writes a touching memoir in relating his wife's illness and how she was able to finally take in a Mets game after years of rehabilitation.  

I got a kick out of the historical section.  While I officially became a fan hearing my dad talk about the team after some guy named Keith was traded to the team in 1983, I went to my first game(s) in 1984.  "As the Worm Turns" by Dan Schlossberg chronicles just how special that year was - the first in which the Man Davey Johnson led the team to its first over-.500 record in, well, what seemed like forever and the first one in the 80s.  It was the first year we saw the young phenom Dwight Gooden pitch (and win the Rookie of the Year award, second in two years for a Met).  It was Darryl Strawberry starting to come into his own, for better or for worse, and Keith Hernandez teaching the young kids how to win.  It's funny how everyone waxes poetic about the '86 team - with good reason - but the 1984 team was truly truly special.  
The '84 season is wrapped up with an interview with Keith Hernandez in "Stepping Forward" by co-editor Matt Silverman.  

And of course what 2009 Mets Annual would be complete without an homage to Shea and a forward-looking piece to the new home, Citi(Taxpayer) Field!

All in all, a very good read and gets the Coop Seal of Approval.  If you are interested, you can pick this jammy up at any bookstore and bookstand in the metropolitan area, but outside of the area, visit this site for purchase. 

Monday, March 16, 2009

Coop's Keys to the Season - Part Three

Welcome to the third installment of Coop's Keys to the 2009 Season.

This is an interesting choice, but not totally unorthodox given what I've focused on in the past (the deal not made, anyone?).  This one is by far going to rock your socks.

The third key is Aaron Heilman.


No, I'm not kidding.  

Now, I know what you are about to say -- Coop!  Where have you been this winter?  Don't you know that Aaron Heilman was included in the J.J. Putz trade, only to be traded again to the Chicago Cubs?

Why, yes, family, I do know that.  But, much like I once coined Duaner Sanchez the "most powerful man on the Mets" (a middle reliever, for pete's sakes), Aaron Heilman could alternatively be the most powerful man not on the Mets. 

How so?  Well, most Mets fans know that although I cringed and abhorred every single damn time Heilman came out of the 'pen (no matter how much I loved hearing the Clash), I always thought he was given a bum rap.  Heilman's is another case of a this example, it was simply banished to the bullpen.  

One of the most interesting quotes from him (which I cannot find, I think it might have been on TV) was after Billy Wagner got injured last year, he was trotted out to close (prior to Ayala) several times.  When asked if he was comfortable becoming the closer for good, he said (and I can almost quote to a T here) - "No, not really."

Folks, I didn't call him "Big Pussy" Heilman for nothin'.  

But here's the thing:  I 100% agreed with him on that sentiment.  For Aaron Heilman was never a closer.  He was never a closer, and he was never a middle reliever.  He was a STARTER.  My philosophy as I've said on here many times before was this: you need a certain mental make-up to be in the bullpen.  Turk Wendell had "it."  Jesse Orosco and Roger McDowell had "it." Billy Wagner had "it."  To a certain extent, Duaner Sanchez had "it" (prior to his midnight food run).

Aaron Heilman never did and it should not be a surprise.  What is "it?"  It is BALLS.  Nut sack. Cajones.  The killer instinct that makes you come out of the 'pen and want to eat the batter and his family up alive just to get an out.  

But as the Mets are wont to do on numerous occasions, they gave him the old okee-doke as far as his career-pathing went: perform out of the 'pen, and we'll move you to the rotation.  Oh, but we can't move you to the rotation, 'cause you are too valuable in the 'pen.   

People often ask me - well, if he couldn't hack it as a reliever, what makes you think he's hack it as a starter?  Well, again it's the mental make up.  When you come into the game, bottom of the 7th, 2 outs, 1 runner on - the pressure is "on."  How many times did Willie or Jerry put Heilman in a situation like that, and we'd all be running to the beer booth to get in on last call, knowing it would be a long night?  When you start, the pressure is "off."  0-0-0 is your line.  If you give up a home run in the first inning, guess what?  You have at most 8 innings to get it back.  Giving up a long ball in later innings (as we all know from the last two seasons) is tougher to redeem. 

Of course, with Mets mismanagement, we might have been able to get a stronger Heilman for Putz straight-up as opposed to trading a bench player (Chavez) and a budding young (and cute) reliever (Joe Smith).   Coulda, woulda, shoulda.  

Towards the last few years, some Mets fans called Heilman whiny because every spring training, we knew what was coming.  "Put me in coach, as a starter, and not in the 'pen."  And maybe he was whining, but shit, I would be too if my employers were telling me one thing, and doing another because they were too lazy to do look at any other options.  

When the 5th starter spot was up-for-grabs each season (till it was grabbed by Big Pelf, but of course Pedro could not be depended on last season either), why Heilman was not thrown into the mix was beyond me.  I'm sure I was not the only Mets fan in the blogosphere saying - Oh, just give it to Heilman already.  

I say Heilman is the most powerful man not on the Mets for a few reasons.  One is - um, look at the state of our rotation.  Johan (warrior), Maine (sketchy), Oh Pea (Oh Pea) and Big Pelf (young warrior).  Notice there is no fifth man yet.  Once again, the team is caught with their pants down as far as a solid innings-eater back-of-the-rotation guy who can go out every fifth day and give the team a chance to win.  

We could have gotten Derek Lowe, although I am not too heartbroken he is on the Braves. I wanted Ben Sheets but that is a blessing in disguise, but why wasn't there a legitimate run at AJ Burnett?  

Now, by those glaring hiccups, we are faced with Jose Lima Part Deux, people - Livan Hernandez (OK, maybe he's not as bad as Lima Time), Tim Redding (buy stock in Anheuser Busch InBev if he EVER starts a game I'll be in attendance) or Jonathon Niese (who is my current vote even if he is a little green, I think he's hungry enough to want to succeed).  

And then there's the Pedro talk.  Can we please pretty please stop with the Pedro talk? Chances of him being what he was in 2005 is no longer.  And ANYONE who brings up his performance in the WBC will have my shoes to shine.  Riddle me this -- for those of you who think "THE" Pedro of old is back due to a small sample size performance, are you clamoring for the retirement of Jake Peavy who blew up in his start against the Puerto Rican team?  After all, Peavy SUCKS (/irony).  

Once again the fifth starter is a merry-go-round, and you know what - Joesky the Met Brawler over at BMF makes a fine point (I guess he had his Jamesons shot in his coffee that morning): if we had a consistent fifth starter the last two seasons, maybe those one game differences in a pennant (2007) or Wild Card (2008) might have meant us getting to the postseason.  READ: Not David Wright hitting in the clutch.  Not Carlos Delgado remembering how to hit.  Not Luis Castillo dropping the Buddy Harrelson dummy he smuggled in his uniform all last season.  But it's the pitching, once again. 

Thus I ask, would it have been so terrible out of all those nightmares we saw in the last few years trotting out every fifth night, to see Aaron Heilman at least once or twice?

I will finish up with this anecdote: once upon a time, in a land far-far away in a magical mystical land called Shea, in the two-thousand-fifth year of our existence, a creature with a puss on his face pitched a one-hit critical shut out of a strong NL East contender.  Guess who that creature was?  It's just sad that became the myth and never had a chance to become a reality.

I guess by default, J.J. Putz is now the most powerful man on the Mets if he replaced Heilman (and Dirty).  But I am almost 99.9% certain that he will make us forget about Heilman's abysmal performance coming out of the 'pen.  So I'm not worried about him.  

But I think the Mets really fucked themselves over by never giving Heilman a fair shake as a back-of-the-rotation-starter.  And that my friends, is what could really bite us in the ass later this season.  Especially if he pans out well for the Cubs.  

Even if he does fare well on the Cubs...I hope he shits when he comes back to Shea.  

I have decided there will be a fourth key to the season, so stayed tuned folks.  

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Get Your GaryKeithRon.Com Special Here!

Hey MSF faithful, a very special Coopslist announcement - as you all may know by seeing their t-shirts and on other sites (heck, even this site!), the Pitch In For a Good Cause Foundation (otherwise known as has announced their special games for the 2009 season!  

Visit the site here for more info.  Join the Coop and others as April 24 is the first GKR event, in a (drum roll please) LUXURY SUITE at the NEW CitiField!!  Stay warm and be COOL at the same time!  All it takes is a t-shirt purchase and the ticket purchase.  I'll be there - the real question is...will YOU!?!?  (There are two other games as well which should be a good time).

Of course, the very lovely Lynn Cohen runs this site, and she has some AMAZING (no pun intended) shirts available for purchase.  If you haven't already, get your hineys over there (or, at the very worst, your web browser) and check out the merchandise.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

All We Are Sayyyyy-Ing....Is Give...

NIESE a chance!!

I thought of that while discussing the topic du jour amongst Mets fans over at Brooklyn Met Fan - and that topic would be Pedro, of course.

Of course the media is bored and with the World Baseball Classic having some headlines with Netherlands ousting the better-on-paper Dominican Republic, two topics have come up - of course, the whole "Cinderella theme" with the lesser team taking on the giant of the D.R....and...

What will become of Pedro?

I've been flamed for this here, I've been flamed for it elsewhere for not hiding my true colors on this topic. But I know that Toasty Joe and a few others have my back in saying this.

But I think we should not only walk but run as far away (and as fast) as possible from Pedro. I loved him in 2005, but do I really need to rehash his disappointment in the three years after? Nope, didn't think so.

Since I didn't watch the game, Pedro from what I hear dominated for the Netherlands for three innings. That doesn't tell me much - sure the Dutch eked it out and won, but a lot of these guys, besides Pedro, Jose Reyes and a few others, are not exactly what we'd call "pros." In fact, a poster on BMF called them Chico's Bail Bonds. Get these guys on an level playing field and see what Pedro brings.

But Pedro's success and the story behind suggest a few things to me:

One is - Pedro is in the "mood" to pitch. It's no secret that for these proud countrymen, they want to make their nation proud as well. Remember how Al Leiter would perform when he would be in the mood to pitch? Or better yet, when he wasn't? Pedro pitched for three innings folks, let's not have a canary about

Two - the weather and other indicators. Pedro is pitching in optimal conditions in order to perform well. But also, he's capped at a strict inning limit and a strict pitch count? Hoo boy, send in the cavalryand sign that man IMMEDIATELY if not sooner!!!

Three - He wants money. I mean, who doesn't? Even baseball players are getting hit by recessions and Ponzi schemes. But Pedro is "on paper" 38 years old - which means he's probably in his 40s. Years away from retirement, no matter what age he really is. He sees guys like Jamie Moyer and thinks - hmm, that could be me.

Four - Extending from number three, he's trying to strike while the proverbial iron is hot. See, NO ONE has exactly knocked at Pedro's door. He's trying to temper any idea of going back to Boston or coming back to NY to pitch. But even teams that seemed like logical fits (Marlins, for example) balked at his asking price. In a market where Manny got only two years with an opt-out for next year, Pedro may have to lower his price. HOWEVER people will be talking about his performance in the WBC and say - hey, maybe this is the Pedro of old. Well, we know the Pedro of old. The prissy diva who doesn't want to pitch the big games and oh yeah, injures himself walking onto the field.

Look, I loved and still love Pedro. But let's look back for a minute. He was great in 2005, hurt in 2006, given a pass in 2007 and makes John Kerry look like a man with strong convictions with his waffling in 2008. Do I even need to go there again with how Pedro's outing in the second game of the 2008 season put a damper on the great win by Johan on the first game?

You know the saying - fool me once, shame on you, etc etc. Fool us twice, shame on all of us for not seeing the warning signs. Like Moises Alou, who as you may remember, the Coop loved the signing in 2007, not so much in 2008, was proven right when he fell injured. Some of us may think - oh $8 million is a drop in the hat to the Mets and Wilpons, it doesn't matter anyway. Um, yeah, ok like that $8mm wouldn't have helped out THIS year in offering Derek Lowe perhaps another $2 mm here and there, or even had the team in the running for other people.

Not to mention the Mets are notorious for backing themselves into a corner by signing a bunch of retreads who shouldn't be near a baseball team, with Omar looking like a genius for finding lightning in a bottle with his gems like Jose Valentin, Fernando Tatis, et al (I use the term "gems" loosely). 

Sure, this is Pedro F'ing Martinez we're talking about but make no mistake - he will become one of "them" in the vein of Moises Alou.

So all I am saying is give Niese a chance as the fifth starter, or basically anyone else who is already committed to the organization with money, dollars, options. Heck, I'm even on board with having Livan get some speed down in the minors and have the innings and ring-dings eater (OK that was mean) a spot if Niese flounders. But, please, stop giving hope that the Pedro of old, a new Pedro, or Pedro PERIOD is coming back.

He's not and he won't. Of course, if he does and does well, I'll be eating crow all season for it. Of course, I've been acquiring a taste for crow since I started blogging in 2007, and it's not bad. It's got a chicken-like consistency.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Coop's Keys to the Season - Part Two

Hi-yo, folks, Coop here again with the second installment of 2009's Coop's Keys To the Season. Brought to you by...The Coop.

This week's installment is going to focus on not a person, not a position but a "theory" -- and that's what has been the Mets' fanbase go-to explanation for a lot of things explained away as..." coulda been a LOT worse."

And that, my friends, is the theory of "the deal not made." Names filed under this particular category would be: Barry Zito, A-Rod, Manny Ramirez. Some Mets fans might have been up in arms about certain deals not being made, but in reality, turned out to blessings in disguise, with 20/20 hindsight.

This season is a little bit of an anomaly in that department, because there are quite a few deals that could have been made with the surplus of free agents out on the market that could have impacted this team right away. Although we have to give credit where it is due, Omar Minaya did in fact eliminate some of the problems (OK, most) of the last two seasons is by addressing our needs for a closer and strong-middle-reliever-who-can-be-a-closer-too in Francisco "K" Rodriguez and JJ "Don't call me a" Putz. I was pretty psyched about that, and wondered what was next. Though little to nothing was done except bringing back Oh Pea to "solidify" the rotation, there was a ton of stuff that you can no longer call the pink suede elephant in the room that absolutely needed to be addressed by Mets management.

In an offseason where there was a surplus of free agents, there is absolutely no excuse why the Mets could not have made an offer for the following: AJ Burnett, Derek Lowe, Pat Burrell (yes, I know, I need a shower), or Manny Ramirez.

Now, I agree right off the bat, Manny is a stretch. He is pure luxury and probably would have only been one of those "steal-the-headlines-away-from-the-Yankees" kind of splashy signing. And judging by the last few offseasons where that HAS been the case (Carlos Beltran, Pedro Martinez, Billy Wagner, and some dude named Johan), Manny would have been like that. So you know what, I will totally give a pass to not going after Manny. Cause I am not sure I would have been jonesed to do that either.

But judging by the team's sorry state of affairs a.) not only in the outfield but 2.) after the 5th batter in the lineup, that leads me to D.) Omar Minaya did not give much of a chance to guys you could have gotten away with one-year contracts for, such as Pat Burrell. I know - eek. Ew, ew, ew. OK, after you've taken a shower, think about it. Honestly, I think Pat Burrell would have been a fine signing, we could have used his pop (OK, home run/strike-out artistry) in the bottom of the line up. I doubt Daniel Murphy is going to be the offensive threat we think him to be for the entire season, though many Mets fans have fan boy crushes on him. Burrell would have been a nice buffer. That's all I'm sayin'.

As for the pitching rotation, I've caught a lot of flak for suggesting otherwise on other Mets fan boards, but Pedro Martinez is NOT THE ANSWER TO OUR ROTATION WOES. If you ask me, this was the pink suede elephant in the room concerning this team. You'd think, OK, a rotation with Johan Santana as the ace is the least of our worries. Oh I beg to differ dear Mets fans. No, I would go so far to say that it only puts more pressure on Johan to take more of the burden.

So behind Jo-Jo we have Big Pelf, along with Maine and Oh Pea who just two seasons ago shared the title of "Co-Aces." After the sure thing, we are relying on a dude who pitched the most innings of his career last season, a guy who was injured and nibbles the corners (whom I still *heart*), and well, a headcase with a million dollar arm/ten cent head. I mean, THIS is what we have another season lined up for? A mysterious fifth starter and all of a sudden Pedro Martinez is going to magically appear healthy and carry the team - you know, something he was supposed to do in 2006 and 2007, and did not.

But here's my issue - there was NO REASON why the Mets should not have been in the race for one of the following: AJ Burnett, Jon Garland, or Derek Lowe. Granted, the Mets were in the race for Derek Lowe, but my gut instinct tells me that there was a reason the Mets passed on him. The Braves do not, in my most humble opinion, take the NL East with their rotation with or without Lowe and hey - at least he's not a Phillie.

Most fans laugh at my insistence upon Jon Garland. While his numbers were somewhat lackluster in the AL, bordering on OK to the very mediocre, I think a switch to the NL would do him right. Especially on the Mets where he would get some run support. The problem with the rotation the last few years are the lack of depth pitchers. Big Pelf and Jo-Jo were the ONLY pitchers to have complete games in 2009 and routinely make it into later innings. John Maine, even when healthy, rarely gets out of the 6th inning. And let's not go there with Oh Pea.

The issue with the Mets not getting an innings eater like Garland or Lowe pushes to the forefront, despite getting K-Rod and Putz... it does not address the fact that in getting Putz, the middle relievers who were actually decent were traded...and that besides Pedro Feliciano (a LOOGY, no less), we got no one besides Putz and K-Rod in the 'pen (besides a bunch of retreads who are trying out for a job in spring training)....All I have to say is, we gotta get to the 7th/8th inning in order to reap those rewards of having those two strong guys in the 'pen.

Unless Maine and Pea take a longevity pill, this could prove problematic.

Most of the Mets fans in blogdom know one thing about me: that I am a PrOmar blogger and fan. However, I think he really f'd up in not being more aggressive in improving those perceived problems. It's one thing to have bid and lost - but to have never bid at all, that would be the problem.

Then again, I would say the reason I am so PrOmar - a main reason, not THE reason - is that he is the master of the deal "not made." So for all the Johans he falls into, it's the one-that-got-away that matters. And in that, the one that got away in 2007 was Barry Zito, every-trade-deadline in Manny, potentially Derek Lowe this year...depending on how those that got away fare this year, we won't know. But passing on these guys, ultimately, could be a blessing in disguise.

But I will say this - the biggest deal that should NOT be made is Pedro Martinez, even for a year. Do we remember the heartache he's put us through these past few seasons? Just say NO to Pedro.

Join me next week for the next installment of Coop's Keys to the Seasons...her opinion is shit, but let's see how much of it sticks to the wall.

Friday, March 06, 2009

COOPSLIST!!! And the winner is...

Hey y'all, a few thoughts off the top of Coop's head.

One is - it looks like the White Classic Striped Reyes #7 jersey is the winner of the poll! A good thing though - I'm pretty sure I can buy that off the rack at the Mets Clubhouse. I am a purist though - I need it authentic, like the one's the players wear. Yes, I admit I'm a dork. I still have a pro-weight Rangers Richter #35 jersey that I still wear, from 1994!

Second is - GET ON THE LIST!!! And by "list" I mean COOPSLIST! Coopslist is my season ticket selling mailing list. People are already lining up at the door, so shoot me an email (click on link to right) if you'd like to get in on this bitch.

Mr. E and I obviously have first dibs on many of the games. I usually combine games for a discount - but also get on the list for the Coop/Beer games, where you can get in for the price of THREE BEERS! The price has gone up, but hey, you are in a nicer stadium now. But it's still the best recession special out there. I will be sitting in section 522 of the Promenade - which I chose purposely since the numbers reduce itself back to 9 (5+2+2=9)...and it's 2009.

Again, I admit, I'm a dork.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Coop's Keys to the Season - Part One

Well, boys and girls and Dykstraw (hee hee - that's just a little joke), it's that time again.  

And by "that time" I mean - it's spring training in full gear AND...time for The Coop to weigh in on the team and the parts that may make or break the team.  

And the kicker is this - I'm not talking about people like Johan Santana or David Wright or Jose Reyes.  We KNOW exactly what we are going to get out those guys.  Providing, erm, Jo-Jo is OK and shit.  No, this series will take on the little guy, who needs to perform so these aforementioned dudes don't have to carry the weight of the team on their proverbial backs...or elbows.   (And I haven't decided if it's going to be three- or four-parter, so deal with me, all right?)

This week's installment is focusing on Lastings Milledge, or rather the two guys we got for 'Stings himself -- Ryan Church and Brian Schneider.

Now, it may seem a little unorthodox to lump these two dudes together since they are not only two totally different types of players, but their positions don't even mesh (right field and catcher, respectively, for those of you keeping track at home).  Well, by no fault of their own, in Mets fans' minds, they will be forever linked together for the infamously lopsided trade in the offseason before 2008 for young talent not to mention flashy Lastings Milledge.  Foresight 20/20 may deem this trade at best - a draw or at worst - see Lastings flourish after a trade to a west coast team, with us wishing we never got rid of him for two scrubs.  After all, Stings had a lot of potential.  Ryan and Brian were - bleh.  Former Nationals.  Dudes who had been underwhelming in a previous life.  

I know, I know, that may seem harsh, especially with Lastings' less-than-uplifting performance in 2008 (.268/.330/.402), and at times Ryan Church carrying the offense and Brian Schneider mentoring the young-ish pitching staff (erm, Mike Pelfrey), which is invaluable - especially the way Pelfrey panned out.  But now what? It did, however, take months for Schneider to mesh with the pitchers and after Church's not-first but SECOND concussion in as many months, Church at times looked like those cartoon characters with the birds floating around his head.

But forgive me for thinking that could potentially be the best we see out of that trade.  

On the upside, though, I do have to say this -- these guys have a lot to play for.  I believe this was the first time either player had been on an over-.500 team.  It was also one of those oh-so-damn-close years where we coulda-shoulda-woulda made the playoffs.  As if 2007 wasn't enough of a disappointment, at least these two were able to give kind of a fresh start.  So yes, the idea of smashing the competition and become better players.  Yes, that has to be encouraging.

Brian Schneider has the first year under his belt and has shown he can manage to handle a pitching staff (especially young dudes) fairly well.  I made fun of Mike Pelfrey for needing a personal catcher in his early starts in 2008, but I ate my words when, barring any dudes named Johan Santana, became the de facto ace of the organization.  It's tough to say how much of that had to do with Schneider rather than the removal of Rick Peterson as pitching coach, whom Pelf never seemed to click with.  Though I thought that Jonathon Niese was about to poop his pants in his debut, Niese is another example of a potential of who I think would flourish under Brian Schneider's better-than-average game calling.  

You see, I have a thing for the battery of a team.  I love pitchers (um, Oh Pea?) but catchers I hold in the highest regard.  I think it goes back to the start of my fandom in the 80s...see, it wasn't so much the dominant pitching of Ronnie, Doc, El Sid and Bobby O in '86 -- it was more, Gary Carter - the veteran catcher - being able to handle them and encourage their maturity.  Not to mention, his rough-and-tumble kind of play was welcome on the Bad Guys Won team.

Pitching can make or break a team, tis true.  But Brian Schneider can make this team better.  I truly believe.  Shit, he has to make up for that abysmal hitting of his.

Now Ryan Church is possibly the biggest coulda-woulda-shoulda stories of 2008, not just for the Mets but all of baseball.  Where do I begin?  When Miss Zoe and I were at the spring training game where he collided with Marlon Anderson in the outfield, causing a concussion (that he recovered quite nicely from, I'd like to add)?  Or the game where he slid into the knee of a second baseman, causing his SECOND concussion in as many months...yes I know I mentioned that before.  But that didn't even do him in, per se.  No, no, there was a road trip to Denver and you guessed it - the team decided to put Church on a plane.  

In high altitude.  


Um, who had the brain injury here - Ryan Church or Omar Minaya, for not insisting Church get an MRI and be IMMEDIATELY DL'd.  But that's not the half of it -- Church carried this team offensively during the Willie-months, when it was evident the rest of the team was still carrying the funk of 2007 over into the new season.  Church didn't have that shackle tied to his ankle, nosiree!!  He was going to prove all the naysayers (Coop, for example) that he was worth starting over Lastings Milledge - maybe the hype surrounding him was true.  Maybe Church didn't get the chance he deserved in DC...

Yeeah, that's the ticket.

Church finished decently, .276/.346/.439 with 12 HRs and 49 RBIs.  But let me tell ya, he fared a LOT better before his second concussion.  If someone can get those stats for me, cause I am too lazy to look it up at 11:30 pm on a Tuesday night, please do.  I know he was on a good track.  
So now what?  Church also has a lot to prove.  First, he needs to prove not only to the fans but to Jerry Manuel that he is worthy of a regular role as starting RF.  Manuel called him out and seems to me Church is making the most of his new lease on baseball life.  The great part about Manuel is that unlike Willie, he won't just automatically start the veterans.  He wants everyone to get a fair shot.

Plus, Church has to shut Mike Fatcessa up, Church actually enjoys playing in New York.  For a contending team.  Unlike that relocated team in our nation's capital.  

Plus the kicker for Church is that he'll be most likely batting in the nether regions of the batting order.  You know what I mean, that big black hole after Delgado and Beltran?  Where it's essentially three easy outs till the pitcher.  Many Mets fans were once again clamoring for Xavier Nady who has achieved cult-like status among fans...Church may not have Nady-like production.  But he can certainly make us forget that we wanted Nady in the first place.  

But what they really need to prove, these two dudes, is that Lastings Milledge - once touted enough to potentially bring Manny Ramirez via trade to the team - was worth trading.  

Like I said, it could be a draw.  But if we win a pennant and make the playoffs with these two guys, I might say it was worth it.  Maybe.

Tune in next week for your next installment of Coop's Keys to the Season.