Monday, February 25, 2013

This Week in Mets History 1-7: Straw, Mex, Hot Rod and King Kong

Frank Gray
MM Editor

February 24, 2010 - After Benjie Molina moved on to other pastures for the green, the Mets signed veteran Rod Barajas to be his replacement behind the plate. It didn't take long for Barajas to be embraced by fans. May 7th, he hit the first walk-off home run in Citi Field history.

It was against the San Francisco Giants and gave the Mets a dramatic 6-4 win. As the Mets began to fall out of the standings as the summer went on, Barajas would be placed on waivers and claimed by the Dodgers.

Currently, he is with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but Mets fans will always have a soft spot in their hearts for the man nicknamed "Hot Rod".

February 28, 1975 and 1981 - The Mets signed Dave "King Kong" Kingman for $150K. The man that the Mets would eventually trade for six years, to the day, later would amass great numbers in a Mets uniform. Both stints began on this date. One in 1975 and the other in 1981.

Kingman would hit 154 home runs and 389 RBI, both personal highs among any other team in his career. These days he is retired and spending his days golfing in Lake Tahoe.

March 2, 1989 - Two of the greatest hitting legends in Mets history took to hitting each other. During a photo shoot, Darryl Strawberry and Keith Hernandez exchanged blows stemming from an argument over contracts. Strawberry walked out of camp. He would return and the two would patch things up.

That 1989 season would prove to be the final one for Hernandez as a player in Queens. He would retire the following year after a brief and unsuccessful stint in Cleveland. He is currently broadcasting for the Mets on their TV network, SNY.

Strawberry would be an All-Star that season and remain with the team for one more year before parting ways with the franchise. Today, he is a successful restaurant owner and still can be seen at Mets functions.

Friday, February 22, 2013

First course of the season - Grapefruit League

Wendy Adair

All eyes will be on Matt Harvey in 2013 to see if he is the force for the starting rotation that he showed in the second half of 2012

Well Mets fans, the Grapefuit League officially starts tomorrow against Ryan Zimmerman and the Washington Nationals.

These games are very important, not because of the scores, but because they truly monitor the talent and versatility of the roster and management can gain insight as to what changes need to be made to the roster in preparation for Opening Day.

Although month of April contains Opening Day it is more an appetizer than main course because teams are working out the kinks and players are getting used to the increased game speed of the regular season, compared to the pace set in Spring Training.

Many fans are disappointed that Sandy Alderson did not procure a "real MLB:" outfielder this past winter.  However, during these Grapefruit League games, Terry Collins and the Mets front office will see what these unknown players can do to better make a plan going forward.

The largest concerns for the Mets is the outfield and the bullpen, the other areas are fairly solid, so that is what fans and Mets management are both going to be monitoring closely the next several weeks leading up to Opening Day.

Lets Go Mets, don't leave a bitter taste in the mouths of fans this spring!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Early Projections for the Mets' Final 25-Man Roster

                                                     Terry Collins will be keeping a close eye on his team this spring.

Shale Briskin
Assistant Editor

The start of Spring Training means that battles for certain roster spots have begun. As the Mets' Spring Training schedule begins this Saturday against the Nationals, here is an early outlook on my projections for the Mets' 2013 Opening Day roster.

Opening Day Lineup

1. Ruben Tejada SS
2. Daniel Murphy 2B
3. David Wright 3B
4. Ike Davis 1B
5. Lucas Duda LF
6. Kirk Nieuwenhuis CF
7. John Buck C
8. Marlon Byrd RF


- Anthony Recker C
- Justin Turner IF
- Omar Quintanilla 2B/SS
- Mike Baxter OF
- Collin Cowgill OF

Starting Rotation

1. Johan Santana
2. Shaun Marcum
3. Jon Niese
4. Matt Harvey
5. Dillon Gee


- Bobby Parnell (Closer)
- Brandon Lyon (Right-Handed Setup Man)
- Josh Edgin (Left-Handed Setup Man)
- Robert Carson (Second Left-Handed Specialist)
- Jeremy Hefner (Long Reliever)
- Greg Burke (Right-Handed Specialist)
- Jeurys Familia

For more, please visit this link.

Guest post from FanDuel about Travis D'Arnaud

 A Guest post from FanDuel

Trading away the reigning National League Cy Young award winner is a tough pill to swallow for any team, so it is pretty obvious why so many New York Mets fans were initially upset when R.A. Dickey packed his bags for Toronto. After the initial shock and disappointment wore off though, level-headed fans were able to take a look at what the Mets received in return. Specifically, the potential of catcher Travis d’Arnaud should be more than enough of a selling point.

From Gary Carter to Mike Piazza, the Mets have had the majority of their success when they have had a strong catcher to anchor a team. While it is very premature to put d’Arnaud in the company of those two right now, there are many signs that point to the youngster being a key cog for the Mets for years to come.

For the last year, the best catching prospect in baseball has been Travis d’Arnaud. The Blue Jays acquired him from the Phillies as part of the Roy Halladay trade. Even though the catcher has now been traded twice in his short professional career, it has been for Cy Young award winners.

Injuries have delayed his arrival to the big leagues, as the 24-year old has all the tools to play on an everyday basis at the highest level. His catching skills are strong enough that he should stay behind the plate for at least the first part of his career. His bat is right there with his defense as well, as he is one of the few catching prospects who can hit for both power and average. However, the fact he has only reached 400 plate appearances once in his five years of professional baseball is a bit of a concern.

Before the Mets signed off on the deal, they did enough background research on d’Arnaud to make sure that they were not receiving damaged goods. He appears to be healthy and ready to go heading into the 2013 Spring Training season, which is a great sign, and one that many daily  fantasy sports players will welcome. The Mets come into the season with pretty low expectations, which means that they can bring d’Arnaud along slowly to get his feet wet for the future.

Flipping a pitcher in his late 30s for a catcher in his early 20s is a deal most teams would have a hard time turning down. The Mets also received other players in the deal, but it will always be judged as d’Arnaud vs. Dickey. Mets fans might not see the results right away, but d’Arnaud has the same type of potential as some of the best catchers in the history of the franchise.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

This Week in Mets History 1-6: The Patch, The Franchise, Fonz and Ollie

Gary Carter\'s Memorial Uniform Patch

Frank Gray
MM Editor

As Spring Training gets closer to beginning this week, we take a trip down memory lane and reminisce about Mets moves from the past. This week we visit with a "terrific" pitcher as he make MLB history, a sporadic pitcher that cashed in on a good season and the Mets decision to honor the passing of the Kid.

February 19, 1991 - The New York Mets signed little known amateur free agent Edgardo Alfonzo. After being called up in 1995, he became a mainstay with the team for the next eight seasons. He finished his Mets career with 120 home runs, 538 RBI and a .292 AVG.

He was embraced by the fanbase and given the nickname "Fonzie" as a sign of their appreciation. Today, he is still bouncing around the minor leagues looking to find his footing in an organization. He was tied to the White Sox last season.

February 21, 1974 - Coming off of his finest season to date, the Mets signed the man nicknamed "the Franchise" to a long-term deal worth $172K per season. Tom "terrific" Seaver, was a Rookie of the Year winner. He also was a  two-time Cy Young award recipient, at that point, (eventually three) and a seven-time All Star, at that point (twelve times overall).

He would go on to become the greatest pitcher in team history and a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee in 1992. He would throw 3,045.2 innings of his total 4,783 IP with the Mets and would strike out  2,541 of his total 3,640 batters with the team. He would post a 198-124 record with the Mets as well. In addition, he holds a Mets career 2.57 ERA. All are currently still Mets records.

February 22, 2008 - The Mets fail to avoid arbitration with lefty Oliver Perez. The team offered him $4,725,000 million but Perez won an arbitration hearing that granted him $6.5 million. Prior to this, the Mets had not had a player go to arbitration in 16 years.

The decision came on the strength of Perez' best season (15-10, 3.56 ERA, 177 IP and 174 K's in 2007). The following season he posted less than stellar numbers, reaching career highs in walks (105), hits allowed (167) and runs allowed (100).

February 25, 2012 - The New York Mets, still mourning the passing of MLB legend Gary Carter decide to pay homage to him and the memory of his time in Queens. They choose to do so by designing a patch for their players to wear on their uniforms during the season. The patch would debut April 5th.

Monday, February 18, 2013

What would define a successful 2013 season?

Wendy Adair

How long will Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins be part of the Mets picture after 2013 will be a burning question until this team, as currently configured, becomes successful for more than a half of a season, especially similar to 2012.

The infield appears to be the teams greatest strength, anchored by David Wright and Ike Davis at the corners, and Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada as the middle infielders.

Needless to say, the outfield is the greatest concern at this time, but Spring Training is a time for young outfielders to audition for spots and last minute deals could possibly be made in time for Opening Day.

Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas are no longer with the team, but Travis D'Arnaud and John Buck will be closely watched in the next few weeks to decide how the every day catching responsibilities will be handled by Collins.

There is no doubt that the last few years have been an incredible disappointment, both on the field and in the front office for the Mets.  The beginning of 2012 showed such promise, David Wright was playing like an MVP, Johan Santan and RA Dickey were virtually unhittable and the word underdog seemed to be on everyone's minds.

While Wright and Dickey were both participants in the All Star game, neither really played a role in the outcome, but regardless the National League still won and once again has home field advantage for the World Series.

The All Star Break proved to be the turning point of the season, injuries to key players and the lack of action by the front office to make mid season acquisitions only hastened the downward spiral of the team.  Wright went into a slump and the rest of the team could not pick him up, it was only a matter of time before the law of averages hit and he was neutralized.

 He did have a good September and ended up surpassing Ed Kranepool in franchise hits and will be looked at to carry this 2013 team, but the Mets need Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and the rest of the lineup help the team and take some of the burden off of Wright.

Fans are having a hard time believing the reassuring words from both the Wilpon family and Sandy Alderson regarding the state of the team, both in the present and future.  Terry Collins can only work with the roster  he has been given, and he is not considered to be the long-term solution to this team, only a stop gap until a forward thinking manager is put in place by senior management.

Johan Santana is another high priority for this year, does he have what it takes to complete a season? Since 2008, his first year as a  Met, he has yet to be on the roster in September and October.  RA Dickey is now a Toronto Blue Jay but Shawn Marcum has been added to the roster and Matt Harvey will continue to be touted as the future ace of the team.

In order for 2013 to be considered a success, veterans such as Wright, Buck, and Santana will lead their teammates and prove excellence over the course of the long season.  Ike Davis and Lucas Duda will need to show that they are every day players and the outfield will need stability.  The pitching staff will be fine as long as Johan Santana, Dillon Gee, Jon Niese, Matt Harvey and Shawn Marcum pitch anyone near as expected as the starting rotation.

The bullpen has been a major weakness for many years, but in order to be successful, Bobby Parnell will ned to be a formidable closer.  He has been given many chances, and has done well in short spurts but the "closer by committee" method has not worked effectively.  Pedro Feliciano has been given another chance in Queens and he could prove to be an extremely valuable addition to the bullpen.

Most importantly, the front office will need to show the fans that they are not afraid to make changes, subtle or drastic, in order to impove the team.   That is the only way to gain and keep the fan's trust, Mets fans are very knowledgeable and passionate, a competitive team on the field is what matters most to all fans.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Remembering Gary "Kid" Carter One Year Later

This Saturday will mark the one year anniversary of the passing of MLB HOFer and Mets legend Gary Carter. His exuberance and enthusiastic approach to the game led to the nickname "Kid". He was a gentle and kind soul. Those who had the pleasure of meeting him will never forget the experience.

With all of this said, the Mets Menu staff would like to reminisce about our memories of the Kid and how he impacted the Mets, the fanbase, MLB and our lives. Please remember him with us. RIP Kid.

Frank- I am still in shock a year later. My thoughts have not changed since my initial reaction. I felt that we, as fans, lost our innocence the day he dies, much in the same way that music fans lost theirs The Day the Music Died. At the time, I wrote an article on my personal blog, New York Fan in South Jersey. I don't think I could capture my emotions any better today than I did then. For that article, please click here.

Shale- I was born in 1989, so I never got to see Carter play for the Mets. I also never had the opportunity to meet him while he was around. Over the years, I have seen many video clips of him helping the Mets become one of baseball's best teams during his time in New York from 1985-1989.

Carter was a critical player, not just in the lineup, but also in the clubhouse as he became a mentor for some of the Mets' younger players and they knew they could always go to him if something was on their minds. Right after he passed, I saw on SNY his former teammates' reactions and didn't know the full impact Carter had on the mid-late 1980s Mets until then.

The Kid loved to play baseball and loved the attention he got as well. If anyone lived the dream back then, it was Gary Carter without question. I remember in 2003 I was sad that Carter was not inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Met, even though he wanted to go in as a Met. Instead, the BBWAA decided he was going in as an Expo because he played in Montreal much longer.

Like Frank said, it's crazy to think that Carter has already been gone for one year and the Mets and their fans will always have a special place in their hearts for The Kid.

Jose- I will never forget my first baseball game in June of 1987. My mom and I went to Shea early for batting practice. As we find a spot along the left field line, the Mets are ready to come off the field. We see Carter jogging off. I looked at him and waved. He looked at me, smiled and waved back. It made my day. Ever since then he was and still is my favorite Met of all time.

Wendy - I met Gary in Manhattan when he was at Barnes and Nobles for his "A Dream Season"  book signing.  It was such an incredible experience, he was so kind and polite to everyone.  When I first found out how ill he was, I was completely devastated and by the time of his death, as much as I had resigned myself to the fact that he was terminally ill, his death was still very emotional.

I was a fan of his before he was even a Met, I remember admiring him while  he was still with the Montreal Expos.  Seeing him and Keith Hernandez hoist the 1986 World Championship trophy above their heads is something that will remain a lifelong memory for me.

The fans loved him because of his love of the game and hard nosed attitude, the toughest nice guy you would ever want to meet, as bad as his knees were, he would not dream of asking out of a game or complaining.  That is part of the reason why I have always been so drawn to David Wright, they are very similar that way.  I was not in the least surprised to hear that they were close and had a lot of conversations until the last few days of Carter's life.

Monday, February 11, 2013

This Week in Mets History 1-5: Ray Knight, David Cone and Bobby J Jones

Ray Knight wins MVP of the 1986 World Series (Photo Courtesy of ESPN)

Frank Gray
MM Editor

This week we prepare to watch the Mets pitchers report to Spring Training. That time of year always brings back nostalgia. When seeing newly acquired pitchers don the orange and blue or a catcher sport that "NY" logo, there are not many other feelings that compare.

With that said, this week's installment revisits with a few names from the past that invokes that type of reaction. We have a cone head, a shiny Knight and we'll be keeping up with the Jones' this week.

February 11, 1987-  On the strength of a freshly minted World Series MVP trophy, Ray Knight uses that leverage to talk the Baltimore Orioles into a bigger payday than the Mets would offer. The Mets want to re-sign Knight for just one year at $800 K.

The Orioles offered only $450 K but a contract that added incentives and an extra year. Knight would go on to hit for a .256 AVG and 14 homers and playing one final year in Detroit before hanging up his cleats to manage. Today, he broadcasts games for the Washington Nationals.

February 13, 2003- The Mets inked long-time pitching great, David Cone, to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training, thus luring him out of retirement.

After winning five rings with other teams, throwing a perfect game and posting a career record of 194-126 and a career 3.36 ERA to go with his 2,668 strikeouts, Cone sets his sights on being the fifth starter in a beleaguered Mets rotation.

The former Mets hurler pitched for the team from 1988 to 1992. He looks to add to his 80-48 Mets record. After his body gives him signs that its' over, he reconsiders and re-retires. Afterward he would go into broadcasting across town for the New York Yankees.

February 15, 2001- On this date, former first round draft pick and All Star, Bobby Jones turns down arbitration with the Mets that would be worth roughly between $2 to $3 Million. He decides to wait the Mets out for a better offer.

The team goes in another direction and signs Steve Trachsel for a two year deal, thus, appearing to sever ties with Jones. Jones would then settle for a deal worth considerably less with San Diego. Born and raised in California, Jones returns to his home state for a mere $625 K.

He would be out of baseball after pitching for the Padres for just two seasons. Jones would finish his career with a 89-83 record (74-56 with the Mets) and 887 career strikeouts (714 with the Mets). After his career, he returned home to Fresno, CA and went into the restaurant business.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ranking Which Players Mets Fans Have to Look Forward to Most in Spring Training

Shale Briskin
Assistant Editor

The Super Bowl has ended, Ray Lewis ended his illustrious career by going out on top, Ed Reed got his long awaited ring and Joe Flacco went to Disney World. All of this can only mean one thing.

Baseball season is almost here!

The Mets have already moved all their gear to Florida and quite a few of the players are already in camp to get ready for the upcoming season. Here are the 5 players that fans should be most excited to see during Spring Training.

5. Johan Santana

Johan Santana's time with the Mets has certainly been marred by injuries, but with the 2013 season almost certainly being his final season in New York, the least that fans can do is embrace the situation and try to make the most of it.

Will Santana actually stay healthy and pitch reasonably well? Or will injuries plague his victory lap season and end his time with the Mets on a sour note? Time will tell whether Santana can stay healthy and pitch well.

4. Matt Harvey

Matt Harvey has already made 10 major league starts, so the hype for him this season may not be the same compared to 2012. But Harvey is still a young and very talented pitcher with a lot of upside. Watching him over the course of a full season should be fun and entertaining for all Mets fans.

3. Noah Syndergaard

One of the main pieces to the R.A. Dickey blockbuster trade, Syndergaard is also very talented and should start the 2013 season with the St. Lucie Mets, but will not be ready for the major leagues for at least another few seasons. Nonetheless, it should be fun to see him pitch in Spring Training.

2. Travis D'Arnaud

The centerpiece of the big trade with the Blue Jays though was catcher Travis D'Arnaud. He is one of the top catching prospects and should be ready for the major leagues sometime this year. It's unknown whether D'Arnaud will start the season on the Opening Day roster or in the minor leagues for the first month or so. Regardless, fans will be excited to see him play when the time comes.

1. Zack Wheeler

Despite the presences of D'Arnaud and Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler will still be front and center once again at Spring Training. He is the Mets' top prospect and could find himself in the Opening Day rotation if he really impresses the Mets during Spring Training.

More than likely though, Wheeler will make his major league debut in May or June. However, if a starter gets hurt, Wheeler will likely be the first pitcher called up to fill the void.

Mets fans will more than likely want to see Wheeler pitch in the major leagues and some may even view him as the future savior of the Mets that could lead the team to a championship. But for now, Wheeler will be watched very closely by nearly everyone in spring training as the hype continues.

For more on this topic, please go to this link.

Monday, February 4, 2013

This week in Mets history 1-4: Keith and Jessie

Photo courtesy of  CBS Sports

Frank Gray
MM Editor

For those who do not know, I write a weekly column over at In recent weeks, I have begun a weekly glimpse into events in Mets history. I would like to bring that series to Mets Menu. For the first three installments of the series (to get caught up), please visit the following links: This week in Mets history 1-1, This week in Mets history 1-2 and This week in History 1-3. Thank you.

In this edition, we visit two members of the 1986 title team, a disgruntled cast away from the 70's  and an even more disgruntled reject from the 2000's. Ahhh, the memories. Soak them in folks.

February 3, 2009- Struggling for consistency in their rotation, the Mets re-signed Oliver Perez to a three year, $36 Million deal. They had hoped that he would improve from his previous season. He didn't. Perez spent the majority of that deal in and out of the rotation.

The Mets so regretted it that when Sandy Alderson took over, one of their first moves was to eat the remaining third of his deal just to get rid of him. He posted a 3-9 record with a 6.81 ERA in the first two years of that contract, only pitching in 31 games.

February 7, 1979- The Mets finalized a trade that would send longtime great Jerry Koosman to the Minnesota Twins. They acquired a player to be named later. On this date, that player was named. It was Jesse Orosco.

The two-time All Star, Orosco, would be the last Mets pitcher to celebrate a World Series championship. During his tenure in Queens, he saved 107 games and appeared in 372 of his MLB record 1,252 games. To this day, he is considered one of the greatest closers, not only in Mets history, but in MLB history.

February 10, 1982- Looking to bolster their offense, the Mets pull of a trade for Reds great George Foster. To complete the trade, they ink him to a five year, $10 Million deal. In nearly five years in Queens, Foster would only hit 99 home runs and hold an abysmal .252 AVG with the team.

He would be released in the 1986 season after controversial accusations of racism within the organization that would keep him from playing even though the man replacing him was a fellow African American, Kevin Mitchell.

February 10, 1984- While the team was looking for the future talent to take root, they needed to keep the veteran talent they had in the fold. With impending free agency looming, the Mets agreed to a five year, $8 Million deal with Keith Hernandez to remain with the team. Hernandez went on to anchor the infield of that 1986 Championship team.

He would hit for a Mets career .297 AVG, collect five gold gloves and three All Star selections in his tenure in Queens. After retiring, he took to the booth where he resides with fellow Mets player Ron Darling and Gary Cohen as the trio that calls Mets games for SNY.