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Time to Wake Up, Mets Fans!!!

By: Kevin Casey

After a long hiatus, I am back. Being a newly minted attorney is not all that it's cracked up to be. It consists of lots of writing, long hours and very little recognition. Nevertheless, I love it, even though it has kept me from writing about my beloved Mets.

Like myself, I am sure that many of you who read this (well, many of the very few who read this) play fantasy baseball. I am currently in 4 Yahoo leagues and I am not doing too badly. I'm in first place in two leagues by double digits, 1 game out of the last playoff spot in another, and in the forth, well let's not go there. Depending on your league, the fantasy baseball trade deadline is coming over the next few days. Just as real teams do, many team managers are looking to upgrade their lineups or pitching staffs for the stretch run, and hopefully, a deep run into the playoffs. Nevertheless, there is always that one or two guys in each league that make you want to bash your head through a wall. You know who I am talking about; the guy who is 65 games out of first place, 45 out of the last playoff spot, but yet he won't move a single player on his team without requiring a king's ransom. There is always that guy who significantly overvalues his team. For example, I needed to add an OF power bat to one of my teams and I really wanted Justin Upton. Well, I made a reasonable offer of James Shields and Ryan Zimmerman for Upton, and it was immediately shot down, followed by a league-wide message where the guy complained about trade offers he was receiving, calling Upton "untouchable." I must inform you that this guy was 52 games out of the last playoff spot in a non-keeper league. I very simply told the guy to "Wake Up" and went on to add Lance Berkman and Tim Lincecum for significantly less in return.

You may be asking why I am talking about Fantasy Baseball; well, the answer is that the guy who overvalues his team in fantasy baseball is no different than current Mets fans. What I am going to write, well rant about, is very unpopular in the tight-knit community known as Mets fans, and to some borders on absolute blasphemy. Many in our community like to refer to themselves as the "most knowledgeable fans in the game." Well, if that's the case it's time to start acting like it and removing heads from rear ends. What I am going to say must be said and Mets fans need to wake up and stop embarrassing themselves.

For the third consecutive season there will not be any meaningful baseball games played in Flushing, New York. Instead of being enthralled with the excitement of a possible pennant race or a wild card birth, we are relegated to watching the young guys come up and put their best effort forth. Also for the third consecutive season, there is very little change in the names of the late-summer mop-up call-ups. We're watching Ruben Tejada play shortstop because Jose Reyes is hurt (that is another story in of itself); we're watching Lucas Duda patrol Right Field, while also playing part-time First Base, after the departure of one of my top-3 all-time favorite Mets, and possibly the most underappreciated player to don the Mets Blue and Orange in Carlos Beltran; we're watching Josh Thole, and have been watching him give do his best immitation of a major league catcher; we're watching Dillon Gee get by on pure guts and guile every fifth day; we're watchin Justin Turner attempt to solidify himself as the Mets Second baseman of the future, despite his never-ending list of excuses and injuries; and finally, we are watching the man, the myth, the legend: Angel Pagan, as he attempts to play an entire month without hitting the disabled list with strained ear cartilage. All of these guys have something in common that is more than just playing meaningless late-season games together. For some odd reason, Mets fans are absolutely enamored by each and every one of these aforementioned players. Many Mets fans are that fantasy baseball guy who overvalues his team because, quite frankly, not one of these guys is very good, but yet if any of them were moved to another team for someone short of Albert Pujols, there would be a violent uprising at Citi Field.

Everyone, including myself, loves home-grown talent. I love watching David Wright and Jose Reyes play. I love watching them play even more knowing that their entire careers have been in the Mets organization. I would hate to see either one of them wear another uniform, but then again baseball is a business and it is very rare in the era of free agency that players play their entire career with one team. Jorge Posada will not be a Yankee next season, rather he will most likely be a Tampa Bay Ray; nevertheless, he will always be a Yankee. With that being said, there is absolutely no reason what-so-ever that many of the players I mentioned above should still be on the New York Mets. I can understand using one or two of them as stop-gap players while another, better alternative is putting in his dues up in Binghamton or Buffalo, but that is not the case here. Simply put, these young players on the Mets are not very good. I am reluctant to even label them as "prospects" because each one of them has been given their shot, but has not proven anything. However, for the sake of making my point I will call them prospects. I'm going to go through each one of these guys, one by one.

Josh Thole and the Mike Piazza Look-Alike
Josh Thole is terrible. The guy is a slap-hitting catcher that cannot hit or catch and probably can't slap very well either. Thole's technique behind the plate leaves much to be desired as he leads the league in passed balls and is towards the top in Catcher's ERA. Buster Posey and Carlos Santana were catching prospects, Josh Thole is not. Josh Thole's career cieling is that of a back-up catcher and nothing more. On Twitter today someone attempted to tell me that Mike Nikeas has "a lot of potential once his hitting develops." I have to say, I almost wet myself with laughter at that. The only thing Mike Nikeas has going for him is that he looks like Mike Piazza. Other than that, not much. He is a 28 year old 3rd catcher on a team that does not have a quality backstop. At 28, you're in your prime and if you aren't displaying Major League-level hitting ability, chances are that you never will develop it.

Ruben Tejada
Ruben Tejada is a prime example of why this team needs to resign Jose Reyes this offseason. When Tejada came up as a late-season call-up a couple years back, he was clearly overmatched at the plate, but showed some promise. Originally, he reminded me of Rey Ordonez with the glove and could possibly be the reincarnation of Edgardo Alfonso so long as he filled out and picked up his offensive game. However, two years later all that hope is gone. While he has improved offensively, marginally, he has regressed defensively. He makes difficult plays look easy, but makes easy plays look like a blind man doing a Rubix Cube. When you have a lineup with him and Thole hitting 7th and 8th, followed by the pitcher, you are more or less giving the opposing team at least 9 automatic outs per game (assuming each guy hits the statistically minimum of 3 times per game). Instead of reminding me of Rey Ordonez with the potential to possibly be the second-coming of Edgardo Alfonso, Tejada has now become Anderson Hernandez II. Tejada has no business being this team's shortstop or second baseman at any time, regardless of the roster and injury situations. I would much rather see some new faces such as Jordanny Valdespin or Wilmer Flores and see what they can bring to this team now and in the future. This was a mistake by the Mets management and in doing so, they have depleted any value that Anderson Hernandez, I mean Ruben Tejada had.

Dillon Gee
I have never before seen a player with so little upside held on such a high pedestal as Mets fans do with this guy. The Mets handled Gee's promotion admirably this season; calling him up after Chris Young hit the DL when Gee was peaking in the minors. Since being called up, Gee has gone 10-4, 4.07 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 77 K's in 117.1 IP. When you look at the 10-4, including a 7-0 start, you think you might actually have something. Well, a pitcher's Win-Loss record is the most decieving stat in baseball. Gee has been anything but a stellar performer this season and has not shown that he has solidified himself a spot in the 2012 rotation. A 4.07 ERA in the NL is not very good. In Gee's 10 wins, the Mets have given him 5.2 runs/game in run support; he better win those damn games. His 77 K's in 117.1 IP is not very good and his BB (including HBP) to K ratio is 59:77. When half of your games are played at Citi Field, you better put up better numbers than that. His stats for 2011 are comparable to those of Mike Pelfrey. However, Pelfrey is being run out of town by Mets fans while Gee is being loved. Certain Mets Blogs have begun to question whether the Mets will non-tender Pelfrey this offseason all the while one blog,, had a post entitled, "Ace in the Making," when referring to Gee. If Gee is the Mets ace, maybe my grandchildre will see playoff baseball at Citi Field because I certainly won't.

Justin Turner
Okay, Brad Emaus was a mistake and Turner should have started the season as the everyday second baseman. During the course of the season Turner has come through with some clutch hits late in games. However, I am tired of the excuses from this guy. As Turner's production has steadily declined, the number of excuses and injuries has steadily increased. If it's not his quad, it's his hip; if it's not his hip, it's his foot. Sandy Alderson has pegged second base as an "offensive position." Turner just doesn't live up to that and frankly, he never will. He's a nice player and probably the best among the guys I listed, but I'll be very disappointed if he is in their future plans. Nevertheless, he is not loved nearly as much as the other players are, which makes this affinity so much more mind-boggling.

Lucas Duda
Okay, I'll admit, he's in the middle of a nice streak right now, but he is not the answer in right field going forward. I heard about Duda's "power" all year long and it took him a year and a day to finally hit a homerun. Duda is overweight and is a liability in the field. His so-called power does not make up for his defensive deficiencies, especially in the canaverous right field at Citi. Duda is at best a 4th or 5th outfielder and left handed pinch hitter. Can you say Nick Evans?

Angel Pagan
Oh, Angel. Angel, Angel, Angel. What can I say? Before the season began, many fans were ready to ship Beltran out of town and coronate Pagan as the CF of the future. Did Pagan hit 30 HR last season? No. Did he steal 40 bases? No. Did he drive in 100 runs? No. Where did all this love come from? All he managed to do was stay healthy for one season. In his case that was an amazing feat, almost as amazing as Gherig's hitting streak, however this is major league baseball and with all the technology and medical advantages players have today, there is no excuse short of losing a limb that an everyday player should play less than 140 games per season. If you play less than 140 games, you are injury-prone and it's time to move on. Pagan had a decent 2010 but was far from a force. Remember, this is the same Angel Pagan that was non-tendered by the Cubs in favor of Felix Pie. This guy has managed to butcher even the easiest of fly balls, has made throws to unoccupied bases and has looked just lost at the plate. Oh yeah, and he's pulled himself out of games numerous times this season with minor dings. This guy is soft and he's not a good ball player.

I am going to ask one, rather simple question: Since when have the Mets transformed into a small-market team? Every member of the media who covers the Mets, with the exception of the phenomenal Adam Rubin of ESPN, likes to make readers believe they have a doctorate in finance/business and swear to their readership that the Mets have no money to spend. They will blame Bernie Madoff and point to the pending minority share sale to David Einhorn as evidence. Despite what they tell you, no one knows the true financial condition of the Mets. Adding one plus one to equal two is easy, therefore being that Sterling Mets (the ownership entity of the Mets) lost a small fortune in Bernie Madoff's Ponzi Scheme plus the Madoff trustee lawsuit filed against Sterling Mets must equal that the Mets have no money, correct? Wrong. If the Mets were cash-strapped, there is no way they would have paid $4 million of the $6 million owed to Carlos Beltran even if that precluded them from landing Zack Wheeler. The Mets would have landed a couple B-level prospects had they not picked up Beltran's salary, but in adding money to the deal, they showed the baseball world that their financial situation is not as bad as it has been made out to be.

So, the Mets aren't a small market team and their financial distress has been severely overstated by the media. That begs one more question: What the hell is wrong with you Mets fans? These players that you are in love with are not very good baseball players. They are reserves and minor leaguers at best. Personally, I'm tired of the losing. Have you guys become so used to the inadequacies of this team that you have begun to love losing players? Not a single one of these fan favorites would be everyday players on winning ball clubs, and that includes the offensively deficient San Fran Giants. Let me remind you of something, prospects are just what the word implies: prospective. They are not proven commodities and they are anything but sure things. For every David Wright and Jose Reyes there are ten Butch Huskys and Alex Escobars. Before the Mets played these sub-par "prospects" on an everyday basis and exposed their huge weaknesses, the Mets could have moved a couple of them for a proven player or two. In a big market, prospects are meant to be traded for proven players. We are not the Pirates or the Rays; we are the Mets and this is New York. Under no circumstances do I advocate for the repetition of Omar Minaya's terrible big money signings, but I certainly do advocate for bringing in some real baseball players to this team. Omar failed this team and the fans, but at least he tried. There is no fault in trying, there is only fault in accepting mediocrity. The Mets could have moved Angel Pagan this offseason for some rotation help, but chose not to. Had the Mets signed Carl Crawford in addition to moving Pagan, we would very well be talking about meaningful late-season games in 2011. I recently saw a poll on that about 75% of fans didn't want to move Daniel Murphy this offseason. I couldn't help but shake my head in disbelief. Daniel Murphy is a nice player and a doubles machine, however he has no position. Playing him out of position cost him the rest of this season and the possibility of trading him to a small-market AL team where he could be their everyday DH. He wouldn't have brought back a Zack Wheeler, but he would have brought something back to the Mets so that Alderson and Co. can go about restocking this abysmal farm system with actual talent. Now, because he was playing a position he had no business playing, he will be back in the outfield next season and I think we all know how that experiment went in 2009. It's also time to seriously consider moving Ike Davis this offseason and bringing in Prince Fielder. Davis was a nice player, but I highly doubt he will ever equal Prince's production. It's time for the Mets to start acting like the big-market team they are and bring proven, quality players to Citi Field.

As a life-long fan, I demand and expect more from this team. I'm tired of being the loveable losers of New York baseball. I want some hardware and some rings. However, that will not come with players that are no more than reserves and bench fodder. WAKE UP METS FANS!!! Home-grown talent is nice, but pennant races and championships are better.

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