Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Ragging on the Mets: If You're Going to Do It, Don't Be A Moron About it

I once read an article by Larry Dobrow. It sucked. Let's see about this one:

Last year at this time, the New York Mets were the prohibitive favorites to rep the National League in the 2007 World Series. As late as early June, the Mets were on the verge of shedding their traditional other-team-in-town status and steamrolling everything in their path.

There is no way the Mets will ever shed their other-team-in-town status, until they get the World Series deficit to a more favorable ratio... and since it currently stands at 26-2. Might be a few years.

And then, they weren't. They played .500 ball from that point, showing the self-contentment of an overfed zoo animal and the urgency of a guy just exiting a toilet stall. Everyone dotes on the September collapse, but the Mets could have gone 0-for-the-month if they hadn't taken the summer off.

Actually, everyone dotes on the right answer, and savvy columnist Larry Dobrow is an idiot. On September 12, the Mets were 21 games over .500 with a record of 83-62. Over the last three weeks of the baseball season, they won only five games. No wonder everyone dotes on that.

Given that the National League is about to get more competitive -- hello, Brewers, Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Rockies -- can we Save This Franchise?

I guess the Dodgers are getting more competitive because they hired a New manager. For example, their owner was quoted:

"I think we're in good position right now," McCourt said. "We don't have to make a deal. We made the biggest move we needed to make in signing Joe."

Yeah. Sure. The Mets need to make more moves because the Dodgers signed a manager. Also- note that the four teams that Larry cites are NOT in the Mets' division.

I think we can. Martha, get me my protractor, my analysis cloak and my Metsie stamp set.

Wow. The implications of the existence of an "analysis cloak" are staggering. Alert the media!

Wait - don't.

Short-term outlook: Most of these "Save This Franchise" dispatches have taken a look at organizations that are beyond help -- the Pirates, Reds and their ilk. The Mets, after last September, are perceived as a team in disarray. That's an irresponsible suggestion, bordering on moronic. The Mets will win their division by a wide margin and should be installed as the easy favorite to claim the pennant.

Fuck you, Larry. The Reds rule. Whoops. Sorry. Larry actually makes a decent point here: that the Mets are still a solid team, although his suggestion that they should be the favorite is an exaggeration.

Assets: They have best young three-player core in the majors (David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes). They have capable veterans at first base, second base and in left field. Their rotation is anchored by two 25-year-old starters, who averaged eight strikeouts per inning in 2006, and Pedro Martinez, still cowboying up, down and all around after all these years.

Pedro cowboyed it up, down and all around to the tune of 28 IP in 2007.

Even if trigger-happy general manager Omar Minaya doesn't lift another finger -- for that to happen, he'd have to be kidnapped, felled by a stroke, or suspended by an evil arch-nemesis in some kind of viscous jelly -- they resemble an 88-win team ... which, not so coincidentally, is what the Mets were in 2007. If they had won one more game in September and the Phillies had won one less, none of these conversations are happening.

I actually kind of like Larry's point here. The Mets seem to be an above-average team, and their late-season slump doesn't seem to fit with the rest of their season. I don't know what their Pythag W-L was (anyone know?) - perhaps the late slump was just regressing to their expectation. Larry's last sentence is sensible - most of the doomsayers wouldn't be doomsaying if the Mets hadn't missed the playoffs.

They recently improved by subtraction when the Braves took the aging and ineffective Tom Glavine off their hands. I wonder if the Mets sent a thank you note or perhaps a fruitcake.

Tom Glavine was almost perfectly averagely effective last year - 96 ERA+, though I think it's insignificant that he is "aging", since he's "thrown over 180 innings every year of his entire career". So I don't think either of those adjectives are accurate.

Also, for the geographically impaired, the Mets reside in New York, where their TV and marketing intake pays for an awful lot of $4.97 quarts of milk. This is an advantage akin to being born with a silver spoon in your mouth and a platinum umbilical cord dangling below your navel.

True. You'd think the Mets could parlay that advantage into more success, like how the Yankees parlay their even larger market share into a steady stream of World Series titles!

No, the Mets don't have the ticket, merchandise or broadcasting revenue streams that their privileged cross-town rivals do.But when you remove New York Post back covers from the equation, they're not competing with the Yankees.


Their real competitors are the two National League teams that can match them resources-wise, the Cubs and Dodgers. Those are the only ones who, like the Mets, can spend stupidly without consequences. If the Braves or Brewers hand out a dumb long-term contract that occupies 15 percent of their payroll, they're screwed. If the Mets do the same, they can swallow it and move on.

Duh. Except that they're really competing with teams like the Rockies and the Brewers, who manage to be successful with half the resources and who, I suspect, have organizations that are simply more competent at assembling winning baseball teams.

Liabilities: They're old and creaky at a handful of key spots. The aforementioned vets -- Carlos Delgado, Moises Alou and Luis Castillo -- have all seen better days, especially defensively. If Delgado's bat doesn't gain back the speed it lost last season, they'll be power-deficient from the left side of the plate.

Luis Castillo has never seen better days. He has only had an above-league-average OPS in three of his ten seasons - and for a speedy guy, he's only scored 100 runs ONCE (!).

Can you win a pennant while being power-deficient from the left side of the plate?

As has been mentioned several zillion times, the depth in the starting rotation and bullpen doesn't inspire confidence. Counting on Orlando "El Dorque" Hernandez to give you 175 injury-free innings as a fourth starter is like counting on a wedding band to pull off "Paranoid Android."

Quite the pop culture reference, Larry. Though I think, as I mentioned, Tom Glavine has no problem throwing over 175 injury-free innings, but you don't seem to like him because he's old.

As for the 'pen, they're sure putting a lot of eggs in the Duaner-Sanchez--won't-go-on-any-more-late-night-munchie-runs basket.

Yawn. I'm hungry.

This team could probably use more 'tude, I guess. When the going got rough last September, the Mets collectively looked like they needed a hug and a warm bowl of soup.

Yes. That's what they need. More 'tude. YOU WERE DOING SO WELL, LARRY! You identified real problems in the Mets' team! Now you are telling me they need hugs! If Richard Fucking Simmons had been on the 2007 Mets, they would've made the playoffs.

That wasn't the case when things didn't go their way in 2005. They got up, dusted themselves off and started swinging, literally and metaphorically. Besides, I'm from the school that five-game winning streaks tend to cure most chemistry and attitude issues.

I am from that school too. Still, Larry should've supported this point with a stat about how the 2005 Mets actually overcame losing streaks so as to support his assertion that they "literally" did overcome something.

Larry goes on to suggest some solutions, most of which involves the Mets "being aggressive" an "using their market power" which is pretty much "what the Mets have done in the past". I'd write about it, but it gets boring.

Actually, this article isn't all that bad, though it doesn't really say much. I just have a baseball jones and even 80 degree weather in Baton Rouge winters isn't enough to satisfy me.


larry b said...

Dan-Bob: he's back from directing a high school play, and angrier than ever.

Tonus said...

The Mets' 2007 Pythagorean W/L was 86-76, which surprised me. Looks like they played above their potential most of the year and then fell apart.

Anonymous said...

Wow, they "averaged 8 strikeouts per inning". I guess that there had to have been a lot of dropped 3rd strikes? Maybe they should look for a little more defense at catcher.

larry b said...

See, that's why they traded for Brian Schneider. It's all coming together now.