Tag Archives: Mets

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Always October? Nats have good pitching, poor fielding and only Bryce Harper hitting in Opening Day loss

WASHINGTON, D.C. — When we last saw the Washington Nationals in meaningful action, it was last year’s NLDS. The story was simple — the pitching was good. The fielding was not and Bryce Harper was the only player hitting. The story remained the same in yesterday’s Opening Day loss to the New York Mets.

Max Scherzer started the game with a strike, but walked the first batter. However, he did not allow a hit until two outs in the sixth. Curtis Granderson had walked and SS Ian Desmond dropped a short fly that was rightfully 2B Dan Uggla’s ball. Lucas Duda singled them home to give the Mets and insurmountable 2-1 lead.

Another Desmond error, this time a short-hopped throw to first base that we hope Ryan Zimmerman will learn to get cost Nats another run. Is there anything that says April in Washington more than cherry blossoms, tourists, pollen and Ian DE6MOND making errors?

Scherzer finished with eight strikeouts, zero earned runs and a big L next to his name. His opposite number, Bartolo Colon, also struck out eight, giving up only a hit to Michael A. Taylor and a homer and single to Harper. Jerry Blevins, the former Nat, struck got Harper out and then was promptly removed. The Mets have already figured out Blevins is a LOOGY, something Matt Williams never did.

I wasn’t surprised Colon beat the Nats, I mentioned that likelihood in the Q&A with Eric McErlain, but I was surprised that Colon was hitting 92 on the radar gun.

OTHER NOTES FROM THE PARK

First off, a big thanks to Joe Riley for the ticket. We were in 309 which gave a good view of the fire from Capitol Heights which was behind the Blue Smoke sign. Joe was on top of it when he said “great product placement” or something to that effect.

The weather was absolutely perfect and we were seated in the shade. Best Opening Day weather ever.

Remember WGAY? The “easy listening” station, gone from D.C. airways since the 1990s? Apparently it’s been resurrected as the in-stadium music during the opposition batting practice. The idea is that it mellows out the visitors bats. Welp, the Mets had five hits and one error while the Nats had 3 hits and 2 errors. Let’s blame that for the loss, shall we? And Desmond.

On the bright side, the piped in music seemed a little less during the actual game.

#signduanedargin Nine year-old Duane Dargin of the Washington Nationals Dream Academy threw out the best first pitch (DC Sports Bog, The Post) I’ve ever seen for the commissioner Rob Manfred. Sign him now!

Speaking of Manfred, the worst kept secret in MLB was confirmed with D.C. getting the 2018 All-Star game. I’d rather it have been Nats TV rights, but this is okay. Ted Lerner really wanted it (The Post), having attended the 1937 edition at Griffith Stadium.

We had an asynchronous national anthem and fighter jet flyover. #foreshadowing

It must be time for a rubber chicken sacrifice!

The Nats are now on a 161-1 pace.

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2015 Nats vs. Mets Q&A with Eric McErlain

Opening Day is Monday! That means I resume my annual Washington Nationals Q&As with opposition fans. Leading off is Eric McErlain (not pictured) – the NY Mets are his favorite squadron; we took a relaxed attitude and talked about the baseball match.

This is Eric’s 5th visit as a Mets guest prognosticator: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and Jets in 2011.

WFY: Though it may not have been apparent to all Washington Nationals fans, the 2014 New York Mets improved significantly. Bullpen meltdowns helped the Nats to a 15-4 record against the Amazins – a split and it would have been a winning season in Queens. How have the Mets addressed that weakness? Beside bringing in Jerry Blevins of course. Hint to Terry Colins he’s a LOOGY. That’s it. Matt Williams doesn’t know that.

EMc: I have to dispute the premise of your question. Yes, the Mets bullpen was a real problem vs. the Nats last season, but overall the team was 6th in the National League in ERA and 3rd in strikeouts. I think much of your evaluation is colored by the experience early in the season when Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth were holding down the fort, and to be frank, letting the Indians over the walls. Later, as Josh Edgin, Jeurys Familia, Vic Back and Jenry Mejia started playing larger roles, the situation really stabilized.

Things looked a little tenuous as Edgin was lost for the year to Tommy John surgery, but Sandy Alderson addressed the need for lefthanded help in the bullpen by acquiring Blevins and Alex Torres last week. Bobby Parnell, the former closer who is returning to the team after missing nearly an entire season, ought to return to the team in mid-April. Rafael Montero, who just missed snagging the job as the 5th starter with a great Spring, will also be in the pen from the start of the season. This looks like a strength, not a weakness heading into 2015.

One of my favorite stats is one you can find on every season summary page in Baseball Reference: Pythagorean W-L. Last year, the Mets finished 79-83 while outscoring the opposition by 11 runs. According to Pythagorean W-L, the team should have been 82-80. I think a lot of observers believe that even with a lineup constrained by Fred Wilpon’s financial difficulties, the Mets aren’t that far away from being a winning team. I think they’re right.

WFY: An improving team should get help with the return of Matt Harvey from his Tommy John surgery. What is the Mets plan for him? How does the overall rotation appear now? Other than noted Bryce Harper observer, Zack Wheeler, who is out with his own Tommy John, right?

EMc: Alderson is keeping his cards close to his vest when it comes to an innings limit on Harvey. He’s said the team isn’t counting on him pitching 210-225 innings, but he also said that the limit wasn’t as low as the 160 Stephen Strasburg was held to when he returned from the same surgery. We’ll just have to watch and see. What I do know is I saw Harvey pitch nearly six scoreless innings vs. the Yankees in Spring Training and he looked like he hadn’t missed a beat. He’s out for blood and I think the Mets will have to tread very lightly in order to not alienate their young star.

As for the entire rotation, the order at this point – in order to maximize the revenue potential in Harvey’s starts at home – is Colon, deGrom, Harvey, Niese and Gee. The Mets shopped Gee in the offseason, and if he gets off to a hot start, they may move him and slide Montero into the 5th position.

WFY: Given the Nats predilection for hitting homers in Citi Field last year, seemingly half of which would have been outs in previous seasons, I was surprised to see the Mets moving the fences in again. Do you agree with the Mets that the advantage to the offense greater than the disadvantage to pitching?

EMc:
That appears to be the calculus. Wright needed help and so did Curtis Granderson. When Citifield opened, I liked the fact that it played big. So did Shea Stadium (even Mike Piazza’s power numbers dropped when he joined the Mets), and the Mets took advantage of that through their time there by developing great pitching. That appears to be happening again, and I guess Alderson is counting on the great young arms to keep the ball in the park. As for the bats, the Mets led the Grapefruit League in just about every offensive category. Things may have turned.

WFY: Did the Mets make any significant free agent acquisitions?

EMc: The major offseason acquisition for the Mets was David Wright’s buddy, Michael Cuddyer. He’ll play left field and spell Lucas Duda at first against some lefthanders. When Cuddyer moves to first, ex-Phillies outfielder John Mayberry, Jr. will get the call in left. Both have had excellent Springs. A lot of fans were clamoring for a new shortstop, but Wilmer Flores has the job and it’s his to lose. His spring has been more than respectable at the plate, but his glove …

WFY: Noah Syndergaard and his lunch are back in the minors – has he been a disappointment or is it too soon to say? I think I ask about Travis d’Arnuad every year too.

EMc: It’s too early to say and thanks to the amount of pitching in the system, the Mets don’t need to rush him to the majors. As for d’Arnaud, he rebounded nicely after being sent down last season. He’s the only starter who has had a disappointing Spring. But if he falters, remember that the Mets have Kevin Plawecki stashed at Las Vegas. He looks like the real deal too.

WFY: What needs to happen for the Mets to reach the playoffs?

EMc: Take the Nats out of the equation last season, and the Mets are 75-68. They cannot go 4-15 vs. the Nats again and expect to make the playoffs. Go .500 vs. the Nats, and they’ve got a fighting chance to make it.

WFY: Since it’s ’15, who is the best #15 in Mets history?

EMc: Carlos Beltran without question. Others who wore that number include original Met Al Jackson, George Foster, Ron Darling and d’Arnaud. But my favorite #15 of all time is the catcher who guided the pitching staff to the World Series twice (1969 & 1973) in five years, Jerry Grote. I’d kill to buy his jersey – which would be #15 with no nameplate on the back – but you can’t buy it. Hey, Mitchell & Ness, I’m looking at you!

WFY: What do you make of the Mets not being majority fanbase anywhere, even their own zip code, according to The Times Facebook likes based fanmaps?

EMc: The Mets have been forgettable during the era of social media while the Yankees have been consistent winners with a lineup that boasted the most popular player in all of baseball, Derek Jeter. If the Mets string together a couple of good seasons, we’ll see that map turn. It’s nothing more than that. With Jeter gone and Harvey on the rise, look for some of those zips to flip in coming years.

WFY: Since the Mets keep doing things to their uniforms, I’m going to keep asking about them. Will you miss the all-white uniforms? I was never a fan, though I understand the appeal of not having pinstripes. Does the alternate cap with gray on it need to find a way into you possession?

EMc:
No and no. I’m a traditionalist with the Mets uniform. I’ve never liked the deviations much, with the possible exception of the mid-80s road blues that replaced New York with Mets across the chest. I own an R.A. Dickey All-Star Game jersey, and have a strong attachment to the original road uniform. For me, that road uniform screams 1973 and beating the Cubs in Chicago to clinch the NL East.

WFY: Do you feel like a Nationals-Mets rivalry is likely or even possible? Is there lingering bitterness from 2007 when a fairly bad Nats team kept beating the Mets in September?

EMc: It’s not a rivalry when you take 14 of 19 from a team. That being said, Collins has identified the failures vs. the Nats last season as something to be corrected. So call me in September. If the Mets keep it close, the series in DC from September 7-9 could be interesting. As for bitterness, take your pick: 1973, 1998, 2000, 2007 or 2008. Those never go away.

WFY: Off topic, I’ve noticed you’ve been mentioning the other blue and orange from Long Island, the New York Islanders more of late on social media. Have you gone back to your roots in hockey after so many years following and blogging about the Caps? How is their move to Brooklyn going over on the Island?

EMc:
I’ve watched a lot of hockey this season, Caps and Islanders. If the teams play on the same night, I’ll watch the best matchup. It’s the last season in Nassau Coliseum, and the fans, many of whom I grew up with, are doing their best to send the team out in style. It would be impossible not to watch given the time when I grew up. If the teams meet in the playoffs, I have to admit I’ll be very conflicted. That being said, if it happens, Caps in six.

WFY: Last year, you mentioned that the Mets are historically awesome on Opening Day, while the Nats are not. That didn’t matter in Flushing last year though as the Nats came back to win 9-7. Now with Opening Day in DC (where it belongs) can Bartolo Colon outduel Max Scherzer and get the boys from Flushing on their way to a series win? I think his slop will mess the Nats up, so I’m saying Mets take the first series, but the Nats take the season series.

EMc: I’m writing off Opening Day, where I think the Nats will win and win big. Colon always has the potential to get shelled, and I think this is the game. As for the rest of the series, I think the Mets sneak out a win with Harvey on the mound Thursday. I see the season series going 11-8 for the Nats. As for the rest of the season, I see the Mets winning 86 games and missing out on the Wild Card to the Marlins. As for the Nats, it almost seems like a division title and a 100-win season would be a disappointment, but the truth is that nothing less than winning it all will be a disaster. I say they do it.

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MLB is finally letting you embed all videos! Nats take first two over the Mets

MLB is finally letting us embed all videos as soon as they come out. Yay, they caught up to the NHL after how many years?

Good start to the first series of the year, finale is at 1:10 this afternoon. Jordan Zimmermann on the mound for D.C.

WEDNESDAY

Washington Nationals 5
NEW YORK METS 1

All Gio Gonzalez does is hit homers in the second game of the year.

TUESDAY

Washington Nationals 9
NEW YORK METS 7
10 innings

Yay, Opening Day! Nats come back and win, even though Stephen Strasburg faltered early. Poor Wilon Ramos.

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2014 Nats vs. Mets Q&A with Eric McErlain

The return of Washington Nationals baseball means the return of one of my favorite features, the guest prognosticator posts! One of my favorite annual guest prognosticators, Eric McErlain (not pictured), leads off as the Nats visit the borough of Queens to take on his beloved New York Mets on Opening Day next Monday. When was the last time you were so excited for a Monday?

Eric, a pioneering blogger now enjoying emeritus status, is now a member of the prestigious five-timers club of WWN guest prognosticators, having answered qustions about the Mets in 2011, 2012, 2013 and Jets in 2011.

WFY: How was the 2013 Mets season?

EMc: Exactly the same as 2012: 74-88. But I’ll be damned if it didn’t feel worse than the year before. At least in 2012 sticking with the team meant getting to pull for R.A. Dickey to get 20 wins or Ike Davis to hit 30 homers. 2013 held no such comforts. Davis slumped early and never recovered. David Wright got hurt. Again. So did Bobby Parnell. Reuben Tejada did his best to prove he’s not a major league shortstop (Hardball Talk). He’s got me convinced, even though the franchise seems inclined to give him yet another chance to prove us all wrong. Once Matt Harvey went down for the season, there wasn’t much left to root for. Were there bright spots? Sure, Juan Lagares may already be the best fielding centerfielder (MetsBlog) in baseball, though his bat is suspect. Zack Wheeler looked all right in limited action. Marlon Byrd’s comeback was nice to watch, but he was dealt at the deadline and is now playing in Philadelphia. Add it all up, it was another lost season.

WFY: GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins are talking about a 90 win season, what would need to occur for it to happen?

EMc: How often do you get a royal flush in poker by drawing the Ace of Spades on the river? The 2014 Mets should be better, but a 16-win improvement is too much to ask. To get there, all of the following would have to come to pass:

1. Wright returns to form – and that means .300 average, 25-30 HRs & 100+ rbi;

2. Whatever solution comes together at first base (Davis or Lucas Duda) it needs to provide some power in the 25-30 HR range;

3. The same Daniel Murphy needs to show up, though I’d be happier if he got on base more often;

4. Tejada needs not to be a stiff. That means he needs to hit .280 or above and find his glove again;

5. Curtis Granderson is going to strike out a lot, but I won’t mind as long as he hits 30 HRs or more;

6. Eric Young, Jr. needs to hit .280 with an OBP of .340 and steal 25-30;

7. Free agent Chris Young will play a credible CF, but he needs to hit 20+ HRs to make a difference;

8. The starting rotation needs to max out on its talent. That means Jon Niese needs to stay healthy and claim the #1 job in Harvey’s absence; Dillon Gee needs to repeat his 2013 performance; Bartolo Colon will not win 18 games with this team, but if he wins 13 and stays healthy enough to be dealt at the deadline I’ll be happy. Zack Wheeler needs to pitch over .500 and continue to develop. As for Daisuke Matsuzaka, the new human rain delay, I can only hope the Mets make his stay in the rotation short in order to make way for either Jenry Mejia early on or Noah Syndergaard at midseason.

9. The bullpen, as it has been in recent seasons, is a complete crapshoot. Having Parnell back will be nice, and I have high hopes for John Lannan in long relief. But the rest of the crew is unknowable, and they’ll have to come together in a big way and fast.
Get all of that, and yeah, 90 wins is a possibility. Don’t hold your breath.

WFY: Seemingly like every other promising pitcher, Matt Harvey had Tommy John surgery. Do you believe the Mets handled him properly before and after the injury? Do I recall correctly that they were trying to avoid surgery initially?

EMc: I think it’s impossible to second guess the team’s decision-making on Harvey. Indeed, they wanted to avoid surgery, but it just didn’t work out. Since then, Harvey has fought and won the right to rehab in New York this season instead of at extended Spring camp. He swears he’ll pitch this season, but I’m hoping the team and Harvey err on the side of caution.

WFY: What’s been the reaction to the Curtis Granderson signing? It is seen as more than just beating out the Yankees for a free agent?

EMc:It’s been positive. If you’d seen Duda playing right field (Sports on Earth) last season you’d be happy too. The Mets outfield has been a mess for too long. As for the Yanks, Granderson was done in the Bronx after last season, so there was no one to beat out.

WFY: Last year you mentioned Noah Syndergaard and Travis D’Arnaud – how have they progressed? Is the direction of the franchise trending upward?

EMc:Syndergaard will start the season at AAA Las Vegas, but is expected to join the Mets sometime mid-season. He’s a potential #1 starter who can strike out 200+ a season. As for D’Arnaud, he was a disappointment with the bat last season in limited action after coming up from the minors. He hasn’t played enough for anyone to conclude his development has been derailed, but his Spring has been less than impressive (Rant Sports). I suspect his upside isn’t nearly as high as has been projected.

WFY: Did you know that Bill Gotto’s original Mets logo design had the colors black & pink (Todd Radom)? How would have been cheering for black & pink have felt?

EMc: No, I had been blessedly unaware of that fact up until now. I think it’s safe to say they made the right decision.

WFY: Speaking of blue and orange, how do you feel about the New York Islanders moving west “off” Long Island to Brooklyn?

EMc: It’s sad but unavoidable. Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead are broke and can’t afford to build a new arena. It beats seeing them move to Quebec or Kansas City.

WFY: Nationals Park beer drinkers welcomed, albeit in limited locations, local and regional brews to the ballpark last season. Do the Mets sell local craft beers as well?

EMc: Take a look.

WFY: As an out of market fan, do you have the MLB.tv package? How is it?

EMc: Oh yes. I’ve had it for several seasons and I love it. I subscribe using my Apple TV, so I pump the games over my 42″ 1080p Panasonic HDTV. I have no complaints.

WFY: How are the current announcers? What is your favorite Ralph Kiner memory?

EMc: It’s Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling. They are a very entertaining trio, though I’ll admit to cheating on them with Vin Scully when the Mets go to LA to play the Dodgers. Nats fans should know that Darling’s performance has improved markedly since his one season in the booth here in Washington.

As for my favorite Ralph memory, it has to be Opening Day 1985. Gary Carter hit the game-winning home run in the bottom of the 10th in his first game with the Mets. Ralph goes down to the field to have Carter on Kiner’s Korner, and promptly introduces him as Gary Cooper.

But while folks remember his malaprops, he had more than his fair share of trenchant observations. People forget that he was a Hall of Fame talent that played in baseball’s golden era. He was teammates with Hank Greenberg and played against Jackie Robinson. When the game bogged down, Ralph always had an observation from the game’s past that shed some light on what was happening on the field. He’ll be sorely missed.

WFY: How do you think the NL East shapes up this season?

EMc: It’s for the Nats to lose. The Braves will challenge all year long, with the Mets, Phils and Marlins serving as cannon fodder.

WFY: How would you rank the Mets NL East rivalries? What about outside of the division?

EMc: The Mets have been out of the money for too long to have any meaningful rivals right now. Sure, we hate the Phillies and the Braves, and the Marlins are a tougher out than they ought to be. As for the Nats, the Mets always seem to have a problem putting them away (I still have nightmares about that walk off homer Ryan Zimmerman hit off of LaTroy Hawkins last season). Outside the division, it’s the Cardinals. In St. Louis, they’ve been calling the Mets, “Pond Scum” since the mid-80s. I’ve always been touched by that. For more, read “The Bad Guys Won,” by Jeff Pearlman.

WFY: What is your favorite book about the Mets?

EMc: Jack Lang, who covered the Mets from their inception in 1962, wrote a comprehensive team history that was published before the 1986 season. “After the Miracle” by Maury Allen, the late New York Post reporter, took a look back at the 1969 team 20 years after beating the Orioles. It had some incredibly bittersweet moments, including how the wife of one player didn’t understand why the Mets weren’t playing in the World Series every year. I like to think she’s learned since then. The aforementioned, “The Bad Guys Won,” lays out just what a group of reprobates that 1986 team really was. “Doc: A Memoir,” is a warts and all look at the career of Doc Gooden, and one that part of me wishes I had never read. Doc ought to be in the Hall of Fame alongside Darryl Strawberry. That he isn’t breaks the heart of any real Mets fan.

WFY: What is your favorite Mets pop culture moment?

EMc: The Seinfeld episode with Keith Hernandez will always be a favorite, though having Game 6 of the 1986 World Series force NBC to reschedule an episode of Saturday Night Live has to be tops.

WFY: Which team wins the opening series and the season series?

EMc: Mets win first series, 2-1. Mets are historically great on Opening Day. Nats win season series 13-6.

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