The Army's Fave Mets Highs and Lows 2008

Before we wake up in a pile of our own sick sometime around 11 am on the first day of 2009, it might be a good time to have a quick look 'round at the Highlights and Lowlights of another miserable season, 2008.

But first, a mini photo montage:

The return of the rollercoaster, number one favourite photo of the season....

Jose makes the crazy, Who Me Choke? face, yet again.

Hey Jose, don't look now but it's September!

Remember this Jose Bonehead Brainfart Against the Phillies in July?

What a minute, how about Bonehead getting picked off against the Yank-Mes in June?

Need More Oxygen To Point to the Sky!

Frame It! Castillo Actually Awake During a Game, Though Barely...

Yup, Head Still Attached to Neck...

The Hall of Fame of Mediocre Mets Managers

Look familiar? Another Blown Game By Schoeneweis

Don't Worry Oliver, Soon enough you'll be pitching like crap for even more money!

What a relief you're gone!

Mr Met Concussion, 2008

Yeessss, give Mr Mediocre More Money!

Praying to the Scott Boras Gods

Carlos Beltran does his Endy Chavez impersonation

But doesn't always land safely to Earth.

The Auld Men Whoop It Up


1. 21/5/08: Mets Crash To Earth: Willie's bizarre comments on racism and Mets swept by Braves in Doubleheader

2. 7/5/08: Kuo Helps Kill Mets Again: Dodgers Kong-Chih Kuo beat them again, striking out 8 of the 13 Mets he faced, like last years, stare at your homer moment by the same Kong.

3. 9/6/08: Four Games Four Losses Mets swept by the lowliest of Padres.

4. 29/9/08 Chooooooooke: Mets complete another collapse.

5. 31/8/08: Stupid 101 Don't Intentionally Walk The Bases Loaded another Jerry Manuel crazy decision.


1. 30/1/08 Omar You're Beautiful: Mets Sign Johan.

2.. 6/12/08: K-Rod Is A Met

3. 26/9/08: Wow: Mets come from behind victory over the Cubs.

4. 13/5/08: Softball Girls Beat Mets: Not a highlight for the loss but certainly for Nelson Figueroa's memorable remarks.

5. 17/6/08: RIP Willie: Finally, Willie punches his Mets clock for the last time.

(bonus track)

6. 18/7/08 Winning Streak to 10: Mets tied for first place after incredible 10th win in a row.


What We Will Now Never Get For Xmas

One of the sickly sad things immediately following the second consecutive Mets September collapse was not just the collapse itself but the gargantuan wish list many Mets fans produced as a result.

I had to stop listening to the FAN after those first few games, reliving the bitterness and hearing the Mets needed to immediately sign CC, K-Rod and Manny.

It did cross my mind early yesterday when reading that Mark Teixeira suitors like the Angels and the Red Sox were dropping out of the Sweepstakes that it was plenty similar to the early chase for Johan last season and how the Mets swooped in at the last minute, unexpectedly, to surprise baseball with the trade that changed the Mets' rotation.

And admittedly, I did allow a little crumb of hope that Omar would do something similar this season with Teixeira; swoop in at the last minute with a double move, trading Carlos Delgado to the Angels in return for a few draft picks and simultaneously announcing the signature of Tex to a Mets contract.

Instead, of course it was the Yankees' turn this season to pick up the pieces of an unfinished race to grab a top player.

Of course the Steinbrenners appear to have escaped losing $100 million in the Madoff Swindle like Fred Wilpon, so they probably had a little extra loose cash lying around.

Similarly, the sponsors of the new Yankees Stadium didn't need a $300 BILLION bailout to save themselves.

Psst. Got some cheap wine for sale, Metsies...

So whilst the Mets signed K-Rod and traded for JJ Putz, got rid of Schoeneweis, Aaron Heilman and Joe Smith to strengthen their most glaring weakness, the Yankees signed CC, A.J. Burnett and now, Teixeira - basically three of the biggest free agents available.

And yes, the Mets needed the bullpen rebuilt, badly. But equally, they'll need another starter and could badly use one more righty bat at the plate.

So don't kid yourself thinking you wouldn't have wanted that to the be the Mets swooping in for Tex, a first baseman for the future, a switch hitting, great fielding contact hitter with a great eye for Delgado, a rapidly ageing strikeout and double play machine with alot of question marks.

Don't kid yourself thinking you'd rather see the Mets sign the schitzophrenic Oliver Perez instead of Derek Lowe just to save a few bucks.

No, money doesn't buy pennants and the Yankees might be just as disappointing next year as they were last year.

But be honest: you'd rather see Tex in a Mets kit instead of Delgado, wouldn't you?

The combination of C.C. and Johan would have been mouth-watering.

Instead, it's going to be a rebuilt bullpen, a mediocre starting rotation and a likely repeat of Delgado's disappearing act in the middle of the lineup next summer.


I saw this and my first thought was wow, how good IS this Wilmer Flores kid anyway?

I have to admit two things:

1. I know sweet f.a. about him. Don't know if he's cocky or quiet, flashy or steady, intelligent or a bufoon.
2. I started salivating at the thought of ridding ourselves of The September Chokemeister, Jose Reyes.

I have to admit, hearing the effete Phillies pitcher Bimbo Cole Hamels talk about how much everyone hated Reyes' cockiness and sky-pointing in meaningless moments I remembered back to that Marlins debacle in Game 161 of 2007 and Jose's cockiness causing thoughts of revenge by the Marlins.

I started to think about this kid Reyes and how the cockiness translated to chokiness the last two Septembers and wondering what kind of man sticks out his chest or points his finger to the sky in meaningless moments yet chokes like a bloody dog when the games start to matter?

It's no coincidence that Reyes' Septembers mirror the Mets own consecutive collapses.

So yes, I wouldn't mind seeing him gone, If we had a decent replacement ready and If we got a great package in return for him, which one would expect, despite everyone's hatred of him and his history of choking.

I also have to admit I was all for dumping him when he couldn't go 10 games without hurting his hamstrings back when he was first starting out and he did get over that after all. But will time rid of him of his short attention span on the field, a more subtle lack of discipline or his impatience at the plate?

I know, it's too early. Surely this kid Wilmer Flores is nowhere near ready but it gives me something to hope for. The long-awaited Reyes departure.

Of course, that's never going to happen on Omar's watch.

Still, it's fun to dream.

Whilst wondering why the Mets haven't signed former Sox Manny and Lowe yet.

Especially whilst watching the Yankees act like well...you do the maths.

And whatever you are doing over the holidays, don't forget to Measure the Strength of Your Metfandom.

Happy Holidays!


Why Not A Little Pissing And Moaning For A Change of Pace?

Ok, we've all had time to digest the recent flurry of moves Omar put on the rest of baseball (bar the Yankees who defied the times and threw money at anything that moved, outbidding themselves where needed just to feel secure...)and having digested we're perhaps beginning to discover a little too much time on the toilet as a result?

Let's start with K-Rod himself.

Have it, Phillies Wankers...

It's admirable that he's out there shooting off his mouth before he's even found a home in the NYC area for his family.

Sure, K-Rod represents half of the one-two punch Omar has thrown to rejuvinate the Mets rubbish bullpen but let's look at reality for just a tick here...the Phillies, after their leader proclaimed them the team to beat in the Spring of 2007 and even after the Mets team leader proclaimed the Mets the team to beat in the Spring of 2008, won the NL East both times and of course, the World Championship in '08, deservedly or not.

So claiming to be the team to beat, you have to admit, rings a little hollow, sounds a wee bit unrealistic in the face of facts, like someone coming in from the AL West might sound to the the trained NL East ear. I would like to hear the Mets keep their mouths shut this season, keep their throats unrestricted by any kind of choking motions or sounds and go out and win the World Series in 2009.

I mean new faces or not, the credibility of the Mets after two consecutive seasons barking out at shadows whilst the Phillies were taking it all is well, comical almost. They're skating on thin ice as it is.

Yeah, that's right because while I'm thinking of it, I'm starting to get bitter all over again.

So I don't want K-Rod, no matter how well intended, talking smack about being the team to beat when just the thought makes half the team collapse in choking fits and wind themselves so tight they'll all have pulled muscles and trousers stained by urine from pissing themselves in terror before even reporting to Spring Training.

And I don't want any other Met thinking he's got to show some leadership by talking smack about being the team to beat.

Let's be clear. The Mets are NOT the team to beat. They will not be the team to beat unless they win the World Series. That's it. Everyone just laughs at us.

It kind of reminds me of that scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the the Black Knight gets his arms and legs cut off by King Arthur but refuses to concede defeat whilst left lying there on the ground trying to pretend "it's only a flesh wound". Mets choke like dogs last two seasons? Pshaw, nothing. We're the team to beat.

Making it worse perhaps, I've only recently discovered that K-Rod comes out to close games to this rubbish song called Sandungueso signalling his entry:

Sung by this Puerto Rican lad who sings/plays something called Reggaeton music, which has its origins in Panama and in the instant case, played for a Venezuelan. Gonna be a weird summer.


Ok, onward to the set-up guy who came over as part of a 12-player, 3-team deal, the cream of the deal, J.J. Putz.

Still feel good about this, even when I'm trying to feel cynical. I mean to get rid of Heilman AND get a guy like Putz not to be your closer but just your bloody set-up man, well, that's quite a coup.

This is what they said in Seattle Times afterwards, which I think is most telling:

"As necessary as it was, losing Putz hurts. When healthy, he is one of the best closers in baseball. He was also the sea of tranquillity in the Mariners' dysfunctional clubhouse.

But a lockdown closer like Putz loses his value on a 101-loss team like the Mariners. They got seven players for him, and they need quantity as well as quality.

Maybe the most intriguing player in this trade is Aaron Heilman, a 2001 first-round draft pick once considered one of the gems of the Mets' pitching staff.

After a string of blown saves, Heilman practically got booed out of Flushing, but he still has a talented arm. And he's only 30. Heilman wants to be a starter, and far away from the barking dogs of Shea, maybe he can relax and enjoy the game again.

So they know Putz is still good and they blame booing and not getting to be a starter for Heilman's lack of success. "Away from the barking dogs of Shea", I like that. I think I'm going to use that as an excuse, even though I'm nowhere near Shea. It can be an excuse in many languages:

Tengo que conseguir alejarse de estos perros ladrando de Shea!

Ich muss weg von diesen Bellen von Hunden Shea!


Я должен получить уйти от этих лай собак из Шей

Anyway, I've got a feeling Putz is going to my favourite guy coming out of the pen firstly because he doesn't play some weird salsa/reggae hybrid when he enters the game, he plays a good auld hardcore bit to get everyone pumped up. Secondly because he's going to be all the more effective as a set-up guy with the other team already shitting themselves about facing K-Rod. Could be quite interesting.


Hard not to like seeing Heilman, Schoeneweiss and Smith get swept away in a matter of hours/days.

“We’re happy to acquire Connor Robertson,” Mets General Manager Omar Minaya said in a statement after the Schoeneweiss dump.

You mean, we're happy to get rid of Schoeneweiss?

How can anyone really be happy about acquiring Connor Robertson? He's a 27 year old who barely got up into the Major Leagues last season and when he did, he sucked. I'm not saying he's a bad person or anything but let's be honest, as much as losing Schoeneweiss is addition by subtraction, this addition of Robertson is little more than, oh jeez, at least he'll be closer to his brother David the Effin Yankee.

I mean even this bit by a Diamondbacks article about non-roster-invitees can't even find anything good to say about him:

"There’s no use reposting his major league stats here so we’ll just wish Connor the best of luck."

Is Robertson the sort of guy who could actually make us MISS Schoeneweiss? I hope not.


Lastly, I would be doing my readers a disservice not to drop a few bitter remarks about the abundantly overpaid Luis Castillo still scheduled to be wearing a Mets uniform next season.

Castillo performing his offseason training of sitting up from a lying down position.

3 years, $18 million.

Anytime you want to call Omar a genius just remember that.

"I know he didn't have a good year, I know it's tough for him to come back. But this guy's been an All-Star, and a two-time World Series winner, a .300 hitter for 10 years."

Great, Omar. Let him retire and be proud of his career but for feck's sake, let's not compound the absurdist error of the contract you gave him by keeping him on the team and worse still, making weird suggestions about batting him lead off.

But watch this, mateys. Luis Castillo is going to be the Comeback Kid.

That's my other prediction for 2009 early on, along with I'll never say or even think "goddamnit! Why didn't we sign Oliver Perez to an astronomical, multi-year contract when we had the chance?!".

Luis Castillo fools us all and wins Comeback Player of the Year.

Yeah. Right about the time he stops walking around the bases like Fred Sanford, that is.


To be fair, there is really nothing out there too appealing as far as starters go.

So here's my take on the irony of 2009:

Except in games where Johan pitches, there won't be any leads for the bullpen to blow out there.

I mean, you can just see it, can't you?


Citi Park's Bullpen Just Got Better

What's this, Omar has finally learned the auld one-two, the body blow followed by the uppercut?

Bullpen worries TKO'd?

One day after doing the predictable by signing K-Rod, Omar reaffirmed in part anyway, his reputation as a GM's GM by turning a crazy auld-school three-way trade to net JJ Putz, reliever Sean Green and outfielder Jeremy Reed in exchange for Aaron Heilman, Endy Chavez and Joe Smith.

What this means of course is that the number one concern going into the winter meetings, namely a rubbish bullpen, has been in large part alleviated. We might even be able to start breathing again although there's still the issue of a pair of starters, a left fielder and a second baseman to consider as holes waiting to be plugged.

Addition by addition AND addition by subtraction.

So the bullpen worries are pretty much over. Yes, there's a little more tweaking to do but Omar has fixed the biggest problem.

And who isn't happy to see Heilman go? Who was still holding out hope for Joe Smith? Sure, Chavez had a few miraculous graps in the outfield but let's face it, he's a born bench player who isn't the answer to any of the Mets headaches. Jeremy Reed is a cheaper and younger Chavez.

Of course, the move wasn't without a modicum of controversy. Putz, you see, is a closer, not a set-up man and whilst ideally having this one-two punch is Bullpen Beluga for the Mets, if you're JJ Putz, you've been sort of demoted.

"It's not the ideal situation, but having the two of us at the back of the bullpen will be pretty strong. I will not change my approach at all. I will close the game in the eighth and give the ball to [newly acquired closer] Frankie [Rodriguez]." Putz said about the trade.

Well, I'm not looking for controversy or problems where they don't exist but for a guy who succeeded in 91 of 108 his save opportunities over three seasons as a full time closer, 8 of those blown saves were last season alone as he battling with injuries. That minor concern aside, having a bullpen with Eddie Kunz and JJ Putz is bound to produce some late-inning tomfoolery. It also allows Duaner Sanchez and Pedro Feliciano to do less damage in earlier innings rather than giving them chances to blow leads late and means that Scott Schoeneweis is likely on the next bus out of here.

In addition to Putz and K-Rod comes Sean Green, similar to Smith as a specialist against righties although his 8.65 ERA in 24 games after the All-Star break is nothing to break wind about.

So, two days, two great deals, bullpen worries virtually resolved and the radar is now on starting pitching. Jason Marquis is not a number two starter but if it means Schoeneweis lands in Chicago by george I think Omar will have another winner on his hands.

Again I'll have to postpone concerns about the other areas which need strengthening in order for the Mets to overtake the Phillies this season but happily I'll postpone it when the news is so full of big events.

And if this wasn't enough activity there was the feminine-sounding Cole Hamels opening his big pie hole and earning his stripes as new Public Enemy Number One out of Philly by (rightly perhaps) pointing out what a showboat Jose Reyes is and again (rightly) pointing out the Mets are a bunch of choke artists. His first start in the new Citi Park should be interesting although with ticket prices being what they are, the battery-throwers and rabid, vociferous fans have likely been priced out of Citi Park so Hamel will likely be met with polite applause in between mouthfuls of French wine, brie and baguettes.


How I Spent My Mets Sabbatical K-Rod Is A Met

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question...
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.

from 'The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock' by another expat who lived in England, T.S. Eliot

(editors note: the proverbial ink had barely begun to dry on the opening paragraphs of what was to be my inaugural post upon return from my annual Met sabbatical when suddenly and without warning, just as I was prepared to launch into a bitter tirade about the inactivity of the Mets front office, wham! They go and sign K-Rod. For the sake of purity of art and to symbolise the retroactive nature of offseason bile, the opening paragraphs have been preserved in their original, archaic form...)

Firsly, in closing my mind to most things Mets, yes it has been nice not to have to stew in bitter juices these last three months or so, bashing my head repeatedly against the Holy Wall of Mets Futility.

Waking up to the first fleas of the 2009 Mets season...

Secondly, yes I did make it to NYC, saw the auld Shea, the new Shea (Citi Park or Bankrupt Park or The House That Bailout Money Bought, whatever they're calling it these days) and the Shea that in October was devoid of World Series games.

Now as for the Mets, I see they've been doing nothing. No closers signed, no backbone surgically implanted in the bullpen, no head-turning action. Just quiet. Crickets-in-the-field-at-night sort of quiet.

(Now here of course, the post immediately becomes dated because as we are now aware, the Mets have taken the first step in signing K-Rod quickly, efficiently and economically...of course the cynical take by Newsday should not be missed - yes the gaping hole in the maw of the Mets bullpen has been filled but psst, what about the starters?

I agree.

Ok, I'm delighted Omar has done the no-brainer. A rich club signs the best available free agent to fill the most obvious hole on the team and does so at a reasonable bargain. Whoop.

Let's face it, any Met fan could have done that in his or her sleep.

It was pretty much an obvious move and pretty much the most necessary move of all.

So well done, Omar, for doing the obvious.

All around the world the signing of Francisco Rodriguez was celebrated...

Now, bearing in mind 1 1/2 starters are already gone from the starting rotation and the fact that the rest of the bullpen leading up to this shiny new ace closer is is essence, let's face it folks, a steaming pile of mediocrity, this is like answering only one part of a five-part question.

So, golf clap ended, the Army can now move on, after months of silence, fingers stiff from inactivity, to address the remaining, multiple concerns.

Starter: Pedro is gone. I still say the instant credibility his signing those long years ago gave the Mets was worth every penny. I will still miss his quirky views and I will still be rooting for him, even if he isn't signed by the Mets, to have one last hurrah of a season. Last Spring Training he was everybody's Number Two after Johan. By May, he was nearly forgotten and then by September, a ghost of his former self. For sentimental reasons, if the Mets could bring him back with an incentive-laden Minor League deal, I would applaud this more with great vigor and joy. If not, adios, hombre. You didn't bring us to a World Series but you and hundreds of millions of dollars of free agent cash brought us some respectibility...for awhile....until we choked two years in a row.

Ok, so Pedro is gone, replaced, let's say, by Pelfrey, who shocked and amazed us with his sudden blossoming and Maine, who we expected to do well but who is now going to be recovering from shoulder surgery.

That means the starting rotation is Johan, Pelfrey, an injured Maine and....nothing.

Last season, Oliver Perez in spurts, mind, was a fantastic pitcher and quite often rose to the occasion in games against key rivals. Whilst he was somewhat less erratic than usual, he was still the Jekyll and Hyde of major league starters. Making him more UNappealing is that he is represented by the reptilian Scott Boras which automatically makes his future contract astronimically out of tune with reality.

I'll make my first guarantee of the 2009 season:

No matter if Perez wins 25 games for the Phillies or Braves next season and shuts out the Mets every time he pitches against them, no matter WHO formulates part of the Mets ridiculously skimpy and notoriously ineffective starting rotation next season, I will never find myself writing (or saying aloud) "goddamnit! Why didn't we sign Oliver Perez to an astronomical, multi-year contract when we had the chance?!"

I won't even think it subliminally or dream it some time in mid-July.

I guarantee.

Oliver Perez, don't let the door hit you in the arse on the way out. We dont' need you or your inconsistency.

So, with two, if we're lucky, three of the five pitchers of our starting rotation sorted, who would we turn to for replacements?

Now it goes without saying that due to intense interest from many other teams, the glory-hole free agent starters available, the likes of C.C., Derek Lowe, AJ Burnett and Ben Sheets, for example, will not be Mets. Or let's say, shouldn't be Mets. Firstly, the Mets aren't even in the running for CC and don't appear to be willing to toss their hat in on Lowe. Forget about the injury prone Burnett and Sheets, both a waste of money for anything but a two year contract.

What I'd be looking for firstly is an innings-eater who doesn't surrender 8 runs a start. The key of course is to move quickly, make a few signings before the Big Fish sign and other teams become desperate for anybody at any price. Move quickly of course means like, now.

Freddy Garcia once fit that bill, is coming off injury and could be had perhaps even under the radar.

The signing of Jon Garland would not bring tears of joy to anyone's eyes but look, rather than overpay for multi-season mediocrity, this guy has gone at least 190 innings per year for 8 straight years. If Omar moved now, he might get him at a reasonable price. IF his agent is dumb enough to get him signed now, that is, rather than waiting til all the big names fall and Garland begins to look more attractive.

Oddly, one might even root for a trade involving the Cubs getting Jake Peavey because conceivably, this might free up Jason Marquis' availability. Granted, getting Peavey is alot better than retaining Marquis but signing Garland or Garcia along with a sort of Heilman for Marquis trade has a sort of better-than-nothing appeal to it.

Of course the other interesting concept is to finally let Aaron Heilman have his way and give him his big shot at being a starter. This isn't an answer but a fall-back position. Nonetheless, considering his value as a relief pitcher is zero and his trade value hovering in that same neighbourhood, the Mets might just get lucky and find a plug to the rotational hole in this manner. I certainly wouldn't want to rely on it but I'm 100% giving Heilman a chance to redeem himself as a starter.

Now then, before you've been bored to tears by more Stating of the Obvious, I'll save the other moaning, like second base, left field and uh, the bullpen other than the closer for another day. If you're good, maybe even tomorrow.

Until then, K-Rod is a Met. So now we've got the best starter and the best closer and little else in between.