Sunday, June 23, 2013

He's Always The Best

There is nothing like coming home from a long day of work orientation to some good baseball news. The Mets won but that wasn't even the best part. 

Mike Nickeas doubled in the 14th inning and scored the only run of the game in the Bisons 1-0 walk off win. I enjoy when Mike does well more than anything else in baseball. He plays better when he plays more often so hopefully he'll get more consistent playing time. 

Thanks for the great game, Mike!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Coming Soon To A Theater Near You

The Latest Turn In My Twisted Life

The Bisons seem to be spending their day off in Boston tomorrow. 


The city I live in for two thirds of the year. 

But now I can merely dream about being in the same city as that wonderful team as my dorm room sits empty. 

My life is a joke. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Little Bit Of Recovery

Zach Lutz is the lineup for the Las Vegas 51s tonight. It is his first time playing since he injured his oblique on May 26. 

It's frustrating that he's back right after the roster shuffle but if he keeps hitting the Mets will have to bring him back eventually. 

Something Postive

Everything surrounding the Mets has been pretty negative recently.  Fortunately for me, I have still been paying attention to 2/3 of the players the Mets sent to the Blue Jays in the big offseason trade.

At the end of last week Josh Thole was called up by the Blue Jays.  Josh crushed AAA pitching, hitting .322 with 7 home runs and 31 RBI before his return to the major leagues.  I was not shocked in the least bit to see him return to form with the Bisons this year.  People never seemed to remember he played most of last season after sustaining a concussion.  While the symptoms may have been gone, and he may have been officially healed, a concussion is not something a player can just come back from.

Then there is that other catcher.  Mike Nickeas did not get regular playing time while Thole was with the Bisons.  However, when given the chance to play everyday he improves drastically.  He has hit in 7 of his last 10 games and is hitting .273 with 5 doubles and 5 RBI over that span.

Mike has also proven he still does not have a mean bone in his body.  He has played for the Bisons for part of the last five seasons so he found a way to compliment the city of Buffalo recently.  He also calls himself Canadian in that article which amuses me.

I am still dying to see Josh and Mike (mostly Mike) play this season.  I will continue to root for them but a season without seeing Mike Nickeas will obviously be disappointing to me.  Hopefully I'll find a way to see a Bisons game.

I hope this brightened your day because they always brighten mine.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Two Steps Forward One Step Back

The Mets finally made some roster moves tonight. Ike Davis, Mike Baxter, and Robert Carson were sent to AAA Las Vegas as Josh Satin, Collin Cowgill, and Josh Edgin were called up. It certainly sent shockwaves through the world of the Mets but it may not be accomplishing what it was meant to. 

Josh Satin for Ike Davis makes sense. It's a simple move. There isn't much to say about it. 

Collin Cowgill for Mike Baxter is a little confusing. Baxter did not really do much to warrant a demotion. His batting average was only .212, it was in limited playing time and his OBP was over .100 points higher. He was one of the team's best pinch-hitters and actually provided reliable defense in the outfield. Cowgill could perform similarly but I don't see the purpose of this move. 

Now, Josh Edgin for Rob Carson is a move in its own league. Carson has been brutal this season. He seemingly gives up a home run every time he shows up on the mound. But I really don't believe Edgin is going to be an improvement. When Edgin was first sent down he went to AA Binghamton and pitched to the tune of a 7.88 ERA. Things were only marginally better in Vegas where he posted a 5.91 ERA. I understand that they want to replace Carson with another lefty, but they weren't comfortable using Carson and they likely won't be very comfortable with Edgin. Justin Hampson is a lefty who has posted a 2.16 ERA against lefties this season and a 1.54 ERA in his last 10 games. 

Josh Edgin was the first move of the season that signified the Mets may actually use the minors to turn players around. However, bringing Edgin back up when he has basically shown no improvement diminishes the authority of these moves.  If Edgin didn't actually have to earn his way back, will Davis and Carson? 

I feel for Davis and Carson, two talented players who just seemingly lost it this season. I feel for Baxter who didn't really do anything wrong but is a victim of this slide. 

Hopefully the Mets will find the players that optimize this lineup and team. I'm just not convinced these moves will do that. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

It Has Happened!

The 20 inning loss to the Marlins was not all bad after all. The Mets announced Rick Ankiel will be designated for assignment before tomorrow's game and Kirk Nieuwenhuis will be called up. 

Juan Lagares has actually played a few games in a row so maybe the Mets are finally beginning the youth movement. 

Welcome back, Kirk!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What Happens In Vegas . . . Oh Just Please Leave Vegas

I was never a fan of the Mets AAA affiliation with the Las Vegas 51s.  I did not like how the top minor leaguers would be playing across the country, in a timezone that would make it difficult for me to watch games online and even more difficult for me to see some of my favorite players in person.  I didn't like that the pitching-heavy organization would be playing in a hitters league and specifically a hitters park.  However, my gripes ended there.

On Monday, a piece came out from the Wall Street Journal detailing exactly what the baseball experience is like in Las Vegas.  In short, the field is dry and poorly cared for with only two groundskeepers to work on it, there is no indoor batting cage in the facility, and the Mets are stuck with this because of Jeff Wilpon.  No AAA team wants to be affiliated with the Mets and no MLB team wants to be affiliated with the 51s.

Jeff Wilpon put the Mets in this hole cutting off nearly communication between the Mets and the Norfolk Tides in 2002.  The Mets have since worked with the New Orleans Zephyrs, Buffalo Bisons, and now the 51s.  After sticking with one team from 1969 until 2006 it was a little weird to see the Mets shuffle around the AAA map.  The partnership with Buffalo would have been nice to continue, but the Mets couldn't figure out how to field a winning team in the minor leagues (and when last season started off nicely, they refused to discuss an extension with the Bisons).

I have continued to follow the Bisons as they are now affiliated with the Bule Jays.  I was admittedly bitter when I began to see everything the teams were doing to emphasize the new partnership and I wondered why the Bisons never seemed to put in the same effort with the Mets.  Now it is more clear that the Mets were the ones who may not have cared.

The Mets, namely Jeff Wilpon, took the partnership with the Tides for granted and nobody has learned how to bounce back yet.

So, if you have followed all this you will realize the Wilpons have not only strapped the Mets big league team, they have also been a detriment to the minor leagues. 

My first reaction to this piece was disbelief. The Vegas facilities sounded more like a high school than a team one level away from the majors. I've learned enough about minor league baseball to understand conditions can be less than ideal, but no professional players should have to resort to a batting cage behind their stadium if they want to take a few extra swings in the afternoon. Marty Brown (AAA manager for the Blue Jays) should not have had to water the field himself when there weren't enough groundskeepers to do the job. No team should have to play short handed because it takes half a day to get players to that affiliation. 

The Mets will be stuck in the most undesirable of situations for at least two years. They have gained a reputation o being a bad partner and the front office has to change that for the sake of the players. They want to build this organization from the bottom up but I can't imagine anybody wanting to sign a minor league deal with the Mets right now. Any team looking to build from within needs organizational depth and now even that could be a challenge.

It is really frustrating to find out the Mets have failed beyond the major leagues. It's hard enough to get through the grind of a minor league season and the Mets aren't making anything easier for their prospects. 

Hopefully the Mets will squeeze back into the International League in 2016. Hopefully they'll be anywhere but Vegas. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Congratulations Kevin!

Kevin Burkhardt will be calling NFL games on Fox this fall. What a great addition to their broadcast team. This is probably the only thing that could get me to watch football so Fox has gained at least one viewer. 

Hopefully this doesn't mean Kevin will be leaving the Mets and SNY soon. He really is a great part of Mets broadcasts and I can only imagine the insight he could bring with more air time.

Congratulations, Kevin! You are more than deserving of this opportunity. 

Different Paths To The Same Finish Line

Unfortunately, the Mets are on their way to another losing season. No amount of Matt Harvey strikeouts and Daniel Murphy doubles are going to change their fate. There are going to be times throughout the season when we wonder why we're still watching. The Mets will be down by five runs to the Braves on a beautiful summer day and the summer sun is bound to be more appealing at least once. However, the Mets do have a way to make the dog days of summer a little more interesting. 

Right now the Mets are trotting out lineups with Rick Ankiel and Marlon Byrd. They are leaving Juan Lagares on the bench and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Collin Cowgill, and Andrew Brown in AAA. They are throwing Shawn Marcum, Jeremy Hefner, and Dillon Gee on the mound for what usually turns into about five mediocre innings per game. Zack Wheeler keeps pitching well in AAA, and Mets fans keep waiting around for the Mets to seem him worthy of a call-up. 

The Mets could keep playing Ankiel and Byrd as they eat at-bats in a meaningless season. They could leave Lagares and Valdespin on the bench for most games and never find out what the younger outfielders are really capable of. They can have Wheeler throw for three more weeks in AAA and hope Hefner and Gee can repeat their performances from against the Yankees. They can coast their way to 85 losses and wait until next year. 

Or the Mets could bring up some young players and see exactly what they have for the coming years. Zack Wheeler is more than ready to pitching in the big leagues. He will likely be up in the coming weeks and he should be the first of a series of moves to remake this roster. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Collin Cowgill, or (if healthy) Andrew Brown should be up with Josh Satin to take the spots of Ankiel and Byrd. If Travis d'Arnaud were healthy it'd probably be time to see him instead of John Buck. 

I am just tired of seeing these fringy, aging players take at-bats and innings away from players that could actually be contributors for more than one season. Right now it may not look like the Mets have much help coming soon for the outfield but they won't know if they don't play any of the viable options. They will have to field a team next year, hopefully one that is better than this year's team, and relying on Las Vegas and spring training statistics is dumb. 

Games with young players, hungry to get noticed, are always more appealing than games with veterans playing out one-year contracts. 

At least, I think they are.