July 19, 2011

Some Poolside Meandering Thoughts and...

Sitting/Working at my usual “Attendant” poolside location I have ample opportunity to listen to and watch the Mets and other MLB games just about every night.

As I settled in to listen to Howie Rose and Wayne Hagin describe last night’s makeup game versus the Marlins at Citi Field on MLB.com, I also opened up the player to watch the Red Sox and Orioles, Cubs vs. Phillies and the Pirates and Cincinnati.

Looking back to earlier in the afternoon when I saw the Mets lineup with the likes of Willie Harris, Scott Hairston, Josh Thole and Ruben Tejada making up half of the offense, I couldn’t help but be once again amazed at the fact that the Pirates, with the likes of Brandon Wood, Lyle Overbay, Mike McKenry, Chase d’Arnaud, Alex Presley and Matt Diaz making up ¾ of their offense, were in contention for the NL Central lead and the Mets were back to faltering/flailing into oblivion 12 games behind NL East leading Philadelphia.

Looking even deeper into some of the ongoing games from last night I saw the Red Sox with the likes of Josh Reddick, JD Drew, Marco Scutaro and Jarrod Saltalamacchia leading the AL East.

I realize that the Red Sox also have Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia and Carl Crawford to go with Kevin Youkilis on a team with a payroll $20 million higher than the Mets but really in this era of MLB, $20 million isn’t hugely disparate.

Sure the Mets have experienced more than their share of injuries during this, let’s call it “transitional” season which has seen a new “baseball management echelon” take control, but to date this Mets team, despite providing some glimmers of hope, continues to make the same mistakes we saw under the “Good Ole Jerry” regime, while relying far too heavily on the recent/relatively minor successes of its young starting pitching and young players such as Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy, two players who obviously were not expected to be primary contributors at the big league level this season.

I see more and more inconsistencies with the manager who states one day that he’s going to go with the “hot” player and the following day says that the match-up dictates him sitting that same “hot” player in favor of one who has a better history against a team or pitcher. (Ref Hairston) At this point in the season and with the progress shown, or lack thereof, the Mets manager has neither the luxury nor resources to be inconsistent or even think about match ups in his managing of this team.

I see the Pirates with their daily line up of “no name” players anchored by Neil Walker, Andrew McCutcheon and Jose Tabata also relying on their young talented starting pitchers, but also see a far more fundamentally sound ball club professionally and consistently managed which while they certainly play in a less competitive division has found ways to win with a payroll which is $100 million LESS than that of the Mets.

Does this point to farm system player development, excellent or lucky draft picks? (Of which the Pirates have had abundance due to their last 20 years of MLB failure).

The Mets and their new regime are purportedly “reinventing the wheel” and stressing fundamentals at the lowest levels. Only time will tell if this is actually the case or just another case of management quelling the fans thirst for winning with promises of the future since apparently at this point there will be little to no big free agent additions in the near future.

The difference between watching/listening to the Mets as opposed to these other teams is also glaring. This is not a criticism of the broadcasts or the broadcasters; I love listening to Howie and Wayne and usually enjoy the SNY booth with Cohen, Hernandez and Darling (who needs to speak only of pitching). It is more a reflection of the images projected by the broadcasters and even the background stadium sounds which in the Mets case often include the boos and obvious lack of confidence every time Jason Bay steps to the plate whether it be an important spot with men on base or his 1st at bat with no one on base in the 2nd inning.. Not to single out Bay, but if the shoe fits...Well.

During the recent loss of Carlos Beltran to some sort of flu the club has exhibited more and more of the symptoms seen over the past few seasons. (I never thought I’d say that Beltran is an important team leader but in addition to his having performed far above any level I expected this season, it’s pretty obvious that Carlos is committed to the Mets for as he said “As long as I’m a Met”)

I realize that chemistry is a huge part of team success and certainly hope the pending returns of Beltran and free agent to be SS Jose Reyes along with third baseman David Wright will provide the impetus for the club to show some consistency both offensively and defensively and allow the manager to put a daily line up on the field that can be relied upon to provide some excitement and fun for all of us long suffering Mets fans.

The New Yorkers next welcome the NL Central’s 2nd place St. Louis Cardinals in what could be Albert Pujols’ final NY appearance with the Birds on the Bat for a 3 game series which I’m sure the Cards feel they should sweep or win at least 2 of 3.

Hoping for a happy, productive, healthy Reyes return and a series which sends the Cards out of Citi molting… (And hoping the Reds and Pirates split their remaining 2 games lol)

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