Monday, April 5, 2010

Opening Day 2010: 3rd place, here we come!

If Omar Minaya ran a 7-Eleven...

Hard to top Mets Extra’s headline regarding the outlook for the 2010 New York Mets: To Mediocrity, and Beyond!

A .500 season seems like all we have to hope for. Maybe we’ll put up a fight for third, but the Marlins shouldn’t be what scares Mets fans. The idea of looking up at the fourth-place Nationals in a few months is my primary fear.

It’s a shame, too. A team with David Wright, Jose Reyes, Johan Santana and Carlos Beltran shouldn’t ever fear the cellar. Perhaps my pessimism is a bit exaggerated, but after the McDowell’s Law (2nd graf) of last season, I’m well aware that anything can happen. As long as anything includes only really bad things like season-ending injuries.

Take a look at the Mets' Opening Day starting lineup. Keep in mind that a team’s starting lineup – I know this sounds obvious – is comprised of its nine best players, and, well, here:

1. SS Alex Cora
2. 2B Luis Castillo
3. 3B David Wright
4. 1B Mike Jacobs
5. LF Jason Bay
6. CF Gary Matthews Jr.
7. RF Jeff Francoeur
8. C Rod Barajas
9. SP Johan Santana

In other words:

1. Sucks
2. Sucks
3. Awesome
4. Sucks
5. Pretty good
6. Sucks
7. Sucks
8. Sucks
9. Hits better than 1, 2, 4, 6-8 (but then again, so could a well-motivated plant)

That’s seven automatic outs every time we cycle through the lineup. You know how in baseball, the goal of the offense is to score runs? This lineup scoffs at such conventional wisdom. “Watch as we pile up the wins by actively refusing to get on base!”

The league average on-base percentage is .330-.335, with .300 being terrible and .370 being very good. So in this day and age, when even ESPN has accepted the validity of OBP enough to include it in its Sunday Night Baseball programming, would someone please explain to me this: WHY THE BALLS IS ALEX CORA AND HIS GODAWFUL .295 OBP LEADING OFF?

Batting Alex Cora first pretty much translates to Jerry Manuel saying “We would like to start out every game already having one out. Yes, I know we only get three per inning and outs are extremely valuable and one shouldn’t go around giving them away willy-nilly, but hey, go fuck yourself, logic.”

Up next is the notorious soft-popup-behind-3rd machine Luis Castillo, who actually had a stellar 2009 OBP of .387. Why he isn’t batting first is unclear other than that it would make sense, though maybe Jerry Manuel got a little freaked out by Luis’s running style, which could be described as “Johnny From ‘The Wire,’ Only More Retarded-Looking.”

Okay, enough doom and gloom, for the moment. Before long, the Mets will get Beltran and Reyes back, and they will be dramatically better. At that point the top of the lineup will look like this:

1. Jose Reyes
2. Luis Castillo
3. Carlos Beltran
4. David Wright
5. Jason Bay

Which is actually damn impressive. Even with the bag of dicks hitting behind them, that fivesome is gonna produce some runs. Unfortunately, unless Johan’s pitching, it probably won’t be enough. (I wonder how many 3- or 4-game losing streaks Johan will be called upon to stop this year. My bet is 100.)

All joking aside, it’s Opening Day, which is as close as I get these days to how I felt on Christmas as a kid. Hope springs eternal, as they say, and although I’m sure watching the Mets “play baseball” this year will probably take an extra year off my life, I know I’ll be rushing home for every game, rooting my hardest for Alex Cora and Jeff (“Frenchy”) Francoeur and Oliver (“Fucking”) Perez, even as Side Bar and I try to one-up each other on who can most creatively slander their families.

It’s gonna be a long season, but hey, it’s baseball. Anyone want to go to a game this week?


Side Bar said...

Nice work. Cora at the top of the order is really just unforgivable. I will try to do a post about the 2010 Mets soon(when - in the best traditions of Bob Klapisch - I will either lament how awful they are or project them to win the World Series, based solely on the last three innings of the preceding night's game).

By way of a preview, I am cautiously optimistic about this team's offense. As you noted, when healthy, they have a vicious top half of the batting order (and even the B-squad managed seven runs yesterday against a very good Josh Johnson).

It is the pitching that scares me. This team will -- at best -- compete for a wild card IF Oliver Perez, John Maine and Mike Pelfrey all perform at or near the very top of their game. (For purposes of this post, please assume that the word "IF" in the preceding setence was presented in a comically-large font - like 96 points or something - to stress how unlikely I think it is that this will happen). The bullpen is no picnic either -- at some point, we have to expect that Pedro Feliciano's arm will fall off, and then we are left with no reliable lefty (I know there is that other guy, but come on). In a division with Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, that's a little scary.

But for now, I will just say this: you have to calm the fuck down about the Jeff Francoeur thing. He is batting seventh. Yes, he strikes out too much. But he is also a deep threat and should get some decent pitches given the guys who will be on base in front of him. He also has a cannon for an arm which will be useful given the canyon in right at Citi Field. And, for fear of getting punched in the face the next time I see you I will not talk about what a great clubhouse guy he is, but he is.

Lastly, I bought four tickets to Wednesday night's game, and now I cannot use them (I got upgraded). They were $67.50 for the four . . . I am not looking to make any money on them and will even take a haircut. First person to make me an offer for all 4 can probably have them.

Open Bar said...

Re: Francouer

I really don't hate the guy. And hell, he's a Met now, so he gets my full support and loyalty.

Once he got to the Mets last year, he hit .311/.338/.498, which is very good. I'd love it if he could keep that up. It's just that for his career, he's a .271/.312/.432 hitter, which is shitty. Especially so for a corner outfielder, where offense is easy to find.

As for the "good clubhouse guy" thing, that's great (sincerely), just not as important as the actual playing is all, despite what the Klapisches of the world write.

And hey, Frenchy actually drew a walk yesterday, so maybe we're in for some strange things this year.

ChuckJerry said...

I love Alex Cora at the bottom of the lineup. I hate him at the top. Yesterday proved why. He came up twice with chances to drive in runs without having to do anything spectacular and he did that twice. One time Ramirez made a great play on him, but Cora essentially got the job done two times. But he's not gonna get on base or be a threat to do anything if he does.

Mike Jacobs is the worst ever. He looked like he never played baseball before yesterday.

Clearly given this victory, the Mets are set to go 162-0. Johan's good on one day's rest, right?

I think Gary Matthews Jr. could conceivably have a comeback type effort in the first couple months. Also he could suck beyond suck. So that'll be interesting. Pagan would be solid in his place until Pagan's legs fall off or something.

I'd like to stay on the John Maine bandwagon, but it's getting increasingly difficult.