Monday, December 9, 2013

Now on @EffingMets

I'm happy to announce that I've recently been invited to contribute to EffingMets.com, check me out!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Perfect Trade: Murphy for Gardner

New York City stands today as one of the least-ept sports cities in the nation.

Thus all eyes turn to the Yankees and Mets as the two teams try very desperately to rebuild their clubs that struggled mightily in the 2013 season. And maybe just bring some wins back for New York.

I believe there is a way that each team could help each other. With the departure of Robinson Canó, the Yankees are without a second baseman. The Mets have depth at 2B in Murphy, Young Jr, Flores, and Tovar. The Mets are in need of an outfielder and a more reliable leadoff hitter. The Yankees' outfield now includes Ellsbury, Beltrán, Soriano, Wells, Gardner, and Suzuki.

See where there could be a trade somewhere in that mix?

The Mets would be willing to trade a proven player like Murphy to a team in demand, such as the Yankees, in return for a quality outfielder (while maintaining their draft pick nonetheless). The Yankees meanwhile don't seem to have room in their lineup for a player like Gardner any longer, considering Ellsbury's ability to lead off and their plethora of better-hitting outfielders.

Murphy for Gardner, straight up, makes sense for both teams. Let's say the winter meetings go well, and this trade happens, here are projected lineups for both teams (as if healthy and suspension-free):

New York Yankees 2014

Ellsbury CF
Murphy 2B
Beltrán DH
Teixeira 1B
Soriano LF
McCann C
Rodriguez 3B
Jeter SS
Suzuki RF

New York Mets 2014

Gardner LF
Young Jr 2B
Wright 3B
Granderson RF
Duda 1B
Lagares CF
d'Arnaud C
Tejada SS
(Pitcher)

Show me any Yankee or Met fan who wouldn't love to see those lineups after going through what they did last season.

In 2013, Daniel Murphy batted .286/.319/.415 to Brett Gardner's .273/.344/.416. For their careers, Murphy hits .290/.333/.424, Gardner hits .268/.352/.381. Murphy is the better all-around player, but their lines are extremely balanced in recent years.

The players themselves would even benefit. Murphy's power numbers will go through the roof as a LHB in Yankee Stadium, and Gardner will be able to take full advantage of Citi Field's large dimensions to up his already-high triples.

Both teams would/should be willing to do this deal. Everyone wins, and it's a low-risk, high-reward prospect for both sides.

Sandy Alderson, Brian Cashman, make it happen.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Notes: Matt Harvey's Elbow

Since I've actually written last a lot has gone downhill for the Mets.

All-Star ace Matt Harvey went down with a "partial UCL tear" in his elbow about one month ago. Harvey has most likely had this injury for a while, which warranted his immediate shutdown for the remainder of the 2013 season.

After seeking an opinion from Dr. James Andrews (!?!), Harvey and the Mets were left with the choice of rehabbing the elbow, or having it operated on. Tommy John surgery would leave Harvey unable to compete in most, if not all, of 2014. Harvey recently made the decision to try rehab, rather then certainly miss a season in his to-be-prized career.

Harvey is a kid, in baseball respect. He's made now numerous mistakes in talking to the world's most scrutinizing media market, and in my opinion is making a mistake that could cost him his career.

Many of the sheep-flock that is the Mets online fan base fully support Harvey in his choice, just as they would if he had announced he wanted to quit baseball and become a tennis player. The "risks of surgery" are not in fact greater than the risks of rehabbing a torn ulnar collateral ligament, although I, unlike some fans, do not claim to suddenly have a degree in orthopedic medicine. However, it doesn't take that degree to see the amount of success rehabbed pitchers have had in the past compared to those who had Tommy John surgery.

Even the biggest idiot Met fan of them all, Terry Collins, somehow snuck his opinion into Harvey's decision process. The manager asked Roy Halladay, an extremely rare success rehab case, to talk to his young ace, an interview that could have swayed Harvey's preferred route.

If I was the Mets organization, I wouldn't be happy with this choice. I wouldn't want to send my ace to a mound, during a season I know won't win a championship, and risk the future anchor of my pitching staff ruining his arm.

Harvey's throwing program is set to be completed in December, after which he will be reevaluated. As a fan, I can only hope that "reevaluated" means the Mets will make the tough decision that Harvey would not make himself. It is painful to admit that as a fan, I do not want to see Matt Harvey pitch in 2014.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

AL & NL Cy Youngs for July

American League

Honorable Mention
Chris Archer - Tampa Bay Rays

Archer has a 4-0 record with a 1.29 ERA in the month of July, recording 2 CG shutouts over 42.0 IP in 6 starts. He's allowed just 6 earned runs, walking 10 and striking out 25. Chris has showed his ability to go the distance while maintaining reasonable pitch counts. He's become a much more mature and efficient pitcher than when he made his debut in 2012.

Runner-Up
Felix Hernandez - Seattle Mariners

King Felix has been rock-solid all year, as usual. While teammate Hisashi Iwakuma has struggled over the last month, Hernandez has posted a phenomenal 3-0 record in 5 starts, pitching 37.0 innings to a 1.22 ERA. His 7/1 K/BB ratio is the best in the league in that span, and the King has held opponents to a .215 avg. and a 0.92 WHIP. Hernandez will likely be a frontrunner for the year's AL Cy Young, and he has definitely added to his case over the last four weeks.

Winner
Matt Moore - Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays can pitch. A rotation of their caliber is incredibly rare in the Junior Circuit, but Joe Maddon's crew has ended up together quite nicely. Matt Moore has been the most dominant pitcher in the American League over the last month. His stats: 4 GS, 4-0, 0.91 ERA, 29.2 IP, 8 BB, 29 K, .124 avg., 0.67 WHIP, 1 CG, 1 SHO. Enough said.


National League

Honorable Mention
Wily Peralta - Milwaukee Brewers

2-1 in 5 starts understates yet another good pitcher for a bad ball club. Despite his record, Peralta has pitched to a 1.64 ERA in 33.0 IP, throwing a complete-game shutout in the process. He's struck out 28, though walked 13, but has kept opponents to a .200 batting average. Wily may not be an ace in the making, but he's certainly done his best to drag the Brewers to a victory now and again.

Runner-Up
Madison Bumgarner - San Francisco Giants

The defending champion Giants have been primarily a disappointment this season. However, over the last few weeks, "MadBum" has helped the struggling Giants by posting a 3-1 record in 5 starts, pitching to a better 1.50 ERA. Bumgarner has been surprising consistent this season, keeping it up by holding opponents to a .161 batting average in 36.0 innings. He's struck out 33 and walked 9, leading the NL in ERA in July.

Winner
Clayton Kershaw - Los Angeles Dodgers

Calling him the second-coming of Sandy Koufax is nearly an understatement. Consistently near the top of the league in almost every pitching category, Kershaw has kept it up in superb fashion over the last 30 days. 4-1, 1.62 ERA in 5 games started; he's struck out 33 and walked just two in 39.0 innings pitched. He's held the opposition to a .158 average and a 0.59 WHIP, continuing to dominate with his explosive fastball and nasty curve. While Kershaw hasn't been the best in baseball lately, he's been the best in the National League, and will no doubt give everyone a run for their money when the actual Cy Young voting comes around.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Do the Mets have a division run in them?

As of right now, the New York Mets sit at 46-55, a .455 W%, on July 27. That shocks no one. What is shocking is that they sit only one game back in the loss column behind both Washington and Philadelphia, which means that there's a technical possibility the Mets could reach second place in the NL East by the trading deadline. Is it really possible that New York could surge to a miracle playoff spot from an underachieving division? Why not?

Friday's first game in the Mets' doubleheader against the Nationals was by far the best baseball New York played all year. Juan Lagares proved himself as an everyday center fielder; Murphy, Wright, and yes even Ike Davis helped thump the Nationals 11-0, behind a stellar season debut by Jenrry Mejia. The Mets did all the little things right that game, which is rare for a ball club of their caliber. Things were looking bright and everyone in the clubhouse had reason to smile.

And then came game two.

With Matt Harvey on the mound, of course the Mets' offense took a vacation yet again, giving just one run in support to their running Cy Young Award candidate. While this should have sufficed as Harvey allowed 0ER over 8IP, Daniel Murphy committed an error that resulted in a Washington unearned run, and Matt Harvey exited the game excluded from a decision. Yet again. And in so very typical fashion, it was LaTroy Hawkins who couldn't keep Ryan Zimmerman in the ballpark in the ninth, giving Zimmerman nine career walk-off home runs.

So while Mets fans were fooled into believing a revitalized ball club with less Lucas Duda and more Eric Young Jr. might be able to put together some kind of miracle, Friday's game-night doubleheader was an important reminder as to what the Mets really are. All potential, no performance.

Yes, the Miracle Mets were 10 games back from first in August of 1969, so yes, anything is still mathematically possible. But I'm not buying it until I see another black cat.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Notes on Last Week

Mets/Yanks

The Metropolitans swept the Yankees for the first time since the inception of interleague play, taking four of four with great pitching performances (notably Gee, career-best start), and a much better looking offense then the Mets had seen this season. While the Yankees turned in disappoint performances all-around, it seems the biggest shame for both teams was their respective series' to follow. The Miami Marlins are at the bottom of the table in every offensive category in baseball, and entered their series with the Mets one game off pace from breaking the Mets' very own MLB record of 120 losses in a season. Some how, some way, New York lost all the momentum they had that series; Matt Harvey giving his most vulnerable looking start of the season (5IP 10H 4ER 2BB 5K). The Yankees were able to pick up their first game vs Boston, but were pounded in game two and wound up being the unlucky victims of a rain-called game three which they lost, 3-0.

Rangers

I for one was surprised by the recent firing of John Tortorella. While he has great knowledge of the game of hockey and a fiery personality to go with it, it was obvious most of the players for New York did not wish to play for him any longer. Whether underperformance by the Rangers this season was his fault or not, he won't be missed by that clubhouse at MSG.

Knicks

Jason Kidd retirement was an anticipated one, and while his on-court contributions to New York last season may not have been entirely effective, his off-the-court knowledge proved very valuable to the Knicks' younger players. Any team will be very lucky to have a surefire HOFer like Kidd in their organization. On the subject of Carmelo Anthony, his request to Glen Grunwald for an additional scorer is not necessarily ridiculous, but a comment certainly out of place for a player with such poor recent FG%'s. JR Smith is probably unlikely to return to New York as it seemed during the postseason that his Sixth-Man magic had already run out. Without another reliable shooter Melo will have to take a majority of shots, and it will have poor effects for both the team and Melo's own value. Anthony would indeed play far better if the Knicks could add some sort of Westbrook or Wade to his Durant or LeBron, but seeing as salary cap issues will be a problem, it wouldn't be surprising to see Melo left with out to dry next opening night.


Upcoming Previews

Pacers @ Heat - NBA Eastern Conference Finals Game 7

What else is there to say. LeBron James, King of Flop, vs Roy "No-Homo" Hibbert. The Heat will need to play their best, and I mean very best basketball to finally break down Indiana's defense. Cheating refs or not, lazy flow in Miami's pure talent-based club will not advance them to a third consecutive Conference Championship.

Bruins @ Penguins - NHL Eastern Conference Finals Game 2

Boston's Jaromir Jagr and Tyler Seguin look to snap a combined 1-85 in shots on goal this postseason to continue their cinderella postseason vs Pittsburgh (T-NHL best in wins 2013 (36)).

Blackhawks @ Kings - NHL Western Conference Finals Game 3

No. 1 seed Chicago looks to take a three-game lead on the defending champion Kings in Los Angeles Tuesday.

*IND@MIA 6/3 8:30ET - BOS@PIT 6/3 8:00ET - CHI@LAK 6/4 9:00ET*

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Subway Series Notes: Game 1

Most regarded yesterday's pitching matchup in the opener of New York's annual Queens vs Bronx contest as a "who will be worse"kind of performance. Instead, Jon Niese and Phil Hughes put on quality starts of 7IP 1ER apiece. The Bombers hadn't lost a game when leading after 6 innings this season, and it looked like the trend would continue as Brett Gardner reached above the center field wall to snag a go-ahead 2-run bomb from Daniel Murphy. It just seemed as though the Metropolitan's offensive woes wouldn't be broken - five of the Mets' starting batters failed to reach base. It wasn't until the New York Captain not on the DL hit a monster solo shot in the seventh inning to tie the game. Murphy would come back with revenge in the eighth by slashing a go-ahead single to Gardner, driving in what would be the winning run. Bobby Parnell's struggles also seemed to come to a halt; he locked down his second save in two games, striking out two with the help of a vastly improved knuckle-curve that buckled David Adams and Lyle Overbay, ultimately getting Travis Hafner to pop to Wright to end the game. Queens improves to a 37-54 overall record vs the Bronx with the win, Mets have not exceeded one win vs Yankees since 2011.

Game 2 Notes

Barring bad weather, Matt Harvey looks to improve to 6-0 on the season and enters with a 1.93 ERA and will face Hiroki Kuroda for the Bronx, 6-3, 2.67 ERA. Both starters are coming off rough outings, Kuroda being knocked out after 3IP in his last start, Harvey allowing 4ER to Cincinnati, his season high. Harvey will be making his Subway Series debut while Kuroda stands with a 2-5 record / 4.81 ERA vs the Mets. Both lineups will probably be similar to yesterday's, although both offenses look to step it up after sluggish performance at the dish. The Subway Series finale at Citi scheduled to start 7:10pm, TV: SNY, MY9, ESPN - Radio: WFAN and WCBS. Preview

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Can the Knicks Save their Season?

"Dammit, we gotta figure it out real soon"

-Mike Woodson on the Knicks' struggles

Indeed you did coach. And New York pulled it together for you.

The Knicks played their real basketball in Game 5. Indiana knew coming in it is one of the most difficult postseason tasks to close out a seven-game series on the road in Madison Square Garden, and New York gave its home town the kind of play they've been craving.

Just the ball movement itself made an enormous impact on the flow of the game from the beginning. Facing a win-or-go-home situation, Mike Woodson's team was finally able to get their heads back into this series - both Anthony and Smith continued to shoot increasing well, a welcome sign for the Garden faithful Thursday night. All around contributions on both ends of the floor put the Pacers in an early rut they would never overcome.

Felton, Shumpert, and Prigioni all did a good job of setting the pace to their own preference, making the scoring opportunities easier for Anthony, Smith, and Copeland (I was right you know). New York took a page out of Indiana's book, pounding the boards and creating vastly more second chances for the interior offense. On top of that, the Knicks played Game 5 with a level of confidence that hasn't been seen since the first round. They know now that they belong here, should be the better team, and have their hearts set on playing at AA Arena in Miami next week. That's the attitude they'll need to keep to win.

Series Stats:

Monday, May 13, 2013

Importance of Game 4 for the Knicks

Game 4 at Indiana is going to be the most important game of this series for the Knicks. After a disastrous Game 3 that lacked everything but bricks for New York, facing elimination the rest of this series would almost surely demoralize the playoff-slumping Knicks. With Amar'e back and hopefully able to provide more desperately needed offensive pressure on Indiana, the Knicks need to spread the floor offensively, watch their shot selection, and they can not let Roy Hibbert beat them on their front court.

Individually, Tyson Chandler may be an all-first team defenseman, but he's struggled heavily this series. Carmelo Anthony's struggles seem to be coming to an end, but whether he'll ever return to his efficient capability is yet to be seen. JR Smith's shot is more lost than a Charlotte fan at a playoff game. As for Raymond Felton, Game 3 was simply a bizarre (non)performance after Felton had been so successful this postseason in punching in the paint. Even Mike Woodson, whose decision to hardly play Chris Copeland (0:58, 1-1, 3pts) while the rest of his players couldn't sink anything.

If (obviously) these players can get their heads back into the game and play like they had during the regular season, the Knicks can absolutely come back in this series. And I personally, would strongly suggest to Woodson playing Copeland more in what should be treated as a must-win game for New York.

Can Rick Ankiel Make an Impact on the Mets?


Say what you want about the guy, but former Astro isn't exactly a highlight on his resumé. I believe there's enough to be said when we can all tell Sandy Alderson isn't gonna exactly splurge on any type of professional outfield for the Metropolitans this season. Could Ankiel maybe help out on the defensive end? Sure. Will his bat be any more productive than Ike Davis' in the month of April?

Probably not.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Matt Harvey (I Told You So)


I'm not gonna pull a Francesa here and claim that I knew Matt Harvey would be amazing from the start. I had barely followed him until he made his debut, but as anyone could tell that night in Arizona, he was gonna be good. Really good.

The fact that the kid can pull out 97mph fastballs in the ninth inning, be incredibly efficient, and never let anything distract him from the W on his mind is beyond impressive. It's almost as if fans can expect a no hitter every time he takes the hill (remember Doc Gooden much?).

He doesn't have a history of getting injured, so as long as Matt can stay healthy for the duration of his career, this spitting image of Seaver himself can expect a one-way ticket to Cooperstown. That I promise.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Could Amar'e Revive The Knick's Offense?

Amar'e Stoudemire is questionable to return this Saturday for the Knicks in Game 3 vs the Pacers at Indiana. It's debatable whether Stat's offensive presence could provide some relief for the slumping JR Smith and Jason Kidd, and let me be frank when I say absolutely. The best thing for the Knicks right now is a big man who can provide driving offense in the paint, and help spread a weaker Pacer offense. If Stoudemire can play just 15 minutes off the bench in Game 3, it would definitely provide breathing room for the Knicks front court, and hopefully jumpstart a more penetrating offense New York needs against a great defense in Indiana.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mets Notes: 5/7/13

I promise to keep this one short and to the point.

Matt Harvey's line vs Chicago White Sox: 9IP 0ER 0R 1H 0BB 12K 28TBF (No decision)

No decision.

...

...

Not one run? Seriously?

...

Well, that wraps up everything you need to know about the NY Metropolitan offense ladies and gents. Matt was absolutely stunning, as usual, with his best outing so far (though with nothing to show for it), and I look forward to continuing to watch this young phenom dominate through each start.

The Legitimacy of the New York Knicks (Part 2)

Assuming anything in regard to the Miami Heat is not a foolish thing to do. With a winning percentage hovering around .900 in the past 40-someodd games gives anyone reason to assume LeBron James & Co. will be making another trip to the Finals. However, as the Milwaukee Bucks aren't exactly a tough contest, I wasn't surprised when Miami's perfect postseason record was tarnished last night by the resilient Chicago Bulls lineup. LeBron's late-game dramatics did reappear; though not quite in the most respectable way. Last night proved that the Heat are not as invincible as most tend to think, and there is a possibility that they could be eliminated before reaching the Finals, facing two fierce teams in the Bulls and the Knicks, provided they win their series (no, the Pacers can not beat Miami).

Oh sure I must be biased. But what's my dislike for LeBron James have anything to do with their difficulty in handling the Knicks this season? Now regular season is not anywhere near playoff play, but tell me, how much better are the Heat really? Outside of James, whom the Knickerbockers have been capable of keeping to human-level performance, Miami's lineup isn't that much better.


New York                       
PG - Felton            
SG - Prigioni                
C - Chandler                   
SF - Anthony                  
PF - Shumpert               

Miami
PG - Chalmers
SG - Wade
C - Bosh
SF - Haslem
PF - James

Now first starter-wise. New York has the better point guard in Felton, and while Chalmers is a similar player, Felton scores more and has been on fire the entire postseason. Miami with the shooting guard, I won't go on to explain why Dwyane Wade is better than 35 year-old rookie Argentine Pablo Prigioni. New York's center in Chandler beats out Bosh, having a monster FG% and being better defensively overall; kudos to Bosh's perimeter shooting which obviously outmatches Chandler's. Anthony is the better SF, and James the better PF, both pretty obvious assumptions. Now both New York and Miami have two of the best benches in the NBA, including 6th Man of the Year JR Smith, and former all-star three-point machine Ray Allen. That's a pretty even matchup that would make for an interesting seven-game series.

Yes, LeBron James is the best basketball player on the planet. But, to those of you who forgot, basketball requires five players on the court. Not one. While having the now four-time MVP will be a huge advantage to Miami in a potential Knicks-Heat matchup, assuming the Heat won't be put through a very tough test (that they may or may not fail, in facing the Knicks) would be a very precarious assumption indeed.

The Legitimacy of the New York Knicks (Part 1)

10-28. That's how Carmelo Anthony shot in Game 1 of the Eastern Semis vs Indiana on Sunday. Yes, that is terrible. Yes, that is no way to succeed in the postseason. But no, Anthony haters*, the NBA scoring champion is not worthless. 11 Rebounds and an over-under of +7, on top of 27 points, is not worthless. Despite his poor shooting, Carmelo contributed 7 points to a game that was sloppily played on the offensive floor by most of the Knicks. But as shooting slumps come, they also go, so when Anthony and Smith presumably find their shots again, the Knicks can again be a formidable offense to any team in the NBA.

The offensive penetration and staying out of foul trouble will be the keys to New York's success tonight in Game 2. The Knicks also did not do a good job of spreading Indiana's offense, allowing too many open looks for a team that does not have a go-to scorer. Provided the Knicks get back into this series, they'll have a better-than-perceived chance at the Eastern Conference Championship.

*On a Side Note

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sheer Dominance: Matt Harvey & Why The Mets Won't be the Goat For Long

It's been a very long time since a pitcher with such imposing presence, overpowering stuff, and the demeanor of a true fierce competitor went to the hill for a New York ball club. The Yankees have never been known as a predominantly pitching franchise, and we all know how pitching wins championships (Yanks are obviously the exception).

The Mets on the other hand, despite the blunders and heartbreak, have had an extraordinary amount of high-caliber arms come to their franchise (including THE Franchise - I'm punny right?) in their shorter expansion team history. However, no one quite like Seaver or Gooden has stood on the mound for Flushing since the two themselves. They had qualities in a pitcher that usually come only once in a lifetime. So as the Mets enter what will be their fifth consecutive losing season, could we notice another gem among the Metropolitan staff?

Matt Harvey is not a thrower. He is not a Strasburg, Wheeler, or Aroldis Chapman. He is a pitcher. He hasn't the cockiness some rookies carry about them like a Bryce Harper or a Manny Machado. No, Matt's a different breed of player. The smart, collected, never-satisfied success-driven winning kind of player many general managers will wish they had drafted (kudos to Anaheim, they did try). And so the pleasant parting gift from a terrible GM in Omar Minaya will soon become the foundation of one of the best pitching staffs in the National League, and in all of baseball.

The Mets will be a legit team again, because with Harvey as the rock of a potentially stellar rotation (Harvey, Wheeler, Niese, Syndergaard, Gee), their offense will be more than sufficient to win 90+ games. Of course, all 5 of those starters would have to provide somewhat close to their expected potential, but all are certainly capable of rising to the occasion. And with a solid offensive infield that can provide the adequate defense, the 2014 Mets leave Sandy Alderson with two items on his agenda:

An outfield. and more importantly, a bullpen.

Any type of major league outfield, any type at all Sandy, just as long as they can catch the ball and bat above .250. Just two ok outfielders and maybe a good one, then we're talking a lineup with at least some depth. And if Alderson can get his hands on two good relievers and a solid closer, the Metropolitans are back in it. Six players max Sandy, can you handle that? So in theory, the Mets are six acquisitions away from being back in contention... easier said than done. But they are certainly capable nonetheless.