Is it time to write off the Mets?

Via the Associated Press

As we approach the beginning of June, it has been an absolute struggle for the Mets thus far. A season that has been plagued by injuries including 3 of their best players in Noah Syndergaard, Yoenis Cespedes, and Jeurys Familia, the team currently stands 11 games out of first place in the NL East and 9 games out of the Wild Card. How would your average Met fan sum up the season so far? They’d probably call it something like a train wreck or a disaster.

The team is currently 7 games under .500 (23-30), and they continue to find ways to lose. The starting pitching, which the Mets were confident would be one of the best in the league, has struggled to give the team length in their starts, and as a result has not been the dominant staff we’ve seen in the past. The bullpen, one of the most used bullpen’s in the league, continues to blow leads, and has been a major let down throughout the season. The one positive has been the offense, which despite Yoenis Cespedes being injured for most of the year, has carried the team through many of their wins. But, the lack of innings given by the starting pitching, and the disastrous bullpen have headlined the Mets’ 30 losses, and right now the team has struggled to find consistency.

At this point, it’s no longer “early” in the season. The month of June is going to be make or break for the Mets. It appears their best all around player Yoenis Cespedes will be back from the DL at sometime early in June, and it’s excepted that Steven Matz and Seth Lugo will also be back soon, giving the team some pitching depth that many thought would be the team’s strength since day 1.

As the Mets continue to fade in the standings, they will need to go on a healthy 8 to 10 game win streak at some point in June if they want to be playing meaningful baseball in the summer. That will have to start with better starting pitching, and help from a bullpen that is one of the worst in baseball. A team that many thought could make a deep postseason run this year has been one of the biggest disappointments this season, and the finger can be pointed in many directions.

So, if someone asked me if I’m writing off the Mets, I’d say not yet. Why? The past 2 seasons, we’ve seen the team play phenomenal baseball in the summer, but they need to be in the playoff conversation, if they want to go on one of those runs. Right now, 9 games back in the Wild Card standings is not going to cut it. But, if they can get back to a .500 or better record by the end of June, I would not deem them sellers come the trade deadline. But, June is a big month for the team to see what direction they’re heading in. It’s also a big month for Terry Collins, who many fans are calling for to be fired. But, if he can get the team hot for the summer like he has the past 2 years, his job will probably be safe. The team simply needs to play better baseball. If not, it’s going to be a long summer for the New York Mets and their fans.

 

 

Should the Mets retire David Wright’s number whenever his career ends?

Via Getty Images

Something that does not seem like it’s discussed often amongst the Mets fanbase is the question of whether the Mets will retire David Wright’s number 5 whenever he does call it a career. The Mets have not exactly had a rich history full of cornerstone players, and as a result there have only been a few numbers the team has retired. Gill Hodges (14), Casey Stengel (37), Mike Piazza (31), Jackie Robinson (42), the name Shea for William Shea is next to these retired numbers, and of course the franchise’s best all-time player, Tom Seaver (41). But, will David Wright’s number be added amongst the retired numbers seen at Citi Field?

When someone talks about the Mets best players in franchise history, of course their best pitcher and player of all-time is Tom Seaver. But, who’s been their best hitter? One can make the argument for Darryl Strawberry, who leads the Mets franchise in home runs, but he only played with the team for 8 seasons. But, what about David Wright? Wright has not played a bulk of games with the Mets since 2014, but his numbers make you wonder if he will have his number 5 retired at some point. The Mets all-time leader in hits, doubles, RBI’s, and just 10 home runs behind Darryl Strawberry’s club record, David Wright has been one the best to ever wear a Met uniform.

David Wright has been the Mets captain for quite some time now, and has wore the orange and blue since 2004. With a great attitude and great leadership qualities, he was a key player in 2006 when the Mets made it to the NLCS, racking up a .311 batting average with 26 home runs and 116 RBI’s during that season. His best statistical season was in 2008, where he hit 33 home runs, drove in 124 runs, and had a .302 batting average. But, as the team started to fall and struggle for much of the late 2000s and early 2010s, Wright was still here through it all, leading the team. Unfortunately, now the team has been much more competitive, but Wright has not played in more than 40 games in a season since 2014. He did make it back in time for the Mets run to the World Series in 2015, and even hit a home run in game 3 of the World Series, one of the prouder moments Mets fans had seen in quite some time.

As we sit in 2017, there is a question of if David Wright will ever play another game, as he is currently on the DL, trying to recover from neck surgery that has caused trouble in his throwing shoulder. Some wonder if he will retire at the end of this season. Some Mets fans are frustrated, but since 2004, no one has meant more to the organization than David Wright. The franchise’s all-time leader in plate appearances, how could they not retire his number with these career stats: 242 home runs, 970 RBI’s, and a .296 career batting average. And of course, he’s a 7 time all-star, a 2 time silver slugger, and a 2 time gold glove winner.

So, the conversation on if the Mets will retire David Wright’s number will probably heat up whenever it is he retires. Is David Wright a hall of famer? No, but he did have the potential to end up in Cooperstown early on in his career, but injuries have slowed down what he could have accomplished. But, should the Mets retire his number 5 and have it  next to Met icons at Citi Field including Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza? Yes, absolutely, because when you ask who Met icons are next to Seaver and Piazza, you have to talk about David Wright, and what he meant to an organization that has not had a great amount of success throughout it’s history. David Wright has been the Mets best all around hitter, and one can only imagine what his numbers would be if he could have remained healthy. But, for now he still is rehabbing with the hopes of wearing a Mets uniform again. That is who David Wright has been his whole career, a competitor, and he still is. David Wright should, and will be forever engraved in Mets history.

All Stats via Baseball-Reference.

Expectations are high for the New York Mets in 2017

Via Getty Images

In 2016, the Mets made it to the playoffs for the 2nd consecutive season for only the 2nd time in franchise history. However, the team fell up short in the Wild Card game against the San Francisco Giants against one of the best postseason pitchers in Madison Bumgarner. The team made it to the World Series in 2015, and expectations were pretty high going into the 2016 season. But, for those that followed the team were aware that many of the Mets’ key players were injured throughout the year. There were still some positives to take away from the season, especially since the team found their way into the playoffs. But, fans want a championship.

It’s now 2017, and the expectations for the New York Mets are as high as I’ve ever seen them. The team retained some key offensive players including Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker, two very important pieces on this team. To start, the team has so much depth, especially in the outfield. With Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Grandson, Jay Bruce, and Michael Conforto, the team is pretty stacked in the outfield. The Mets finally have Cespedes locked up for 5 years, and expectations are for him to be an MVP candidate. We can’t forget Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo as well, who also have the potential to be solid bench players. Their infield also has some nice depth with Jose Reyes, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores and David Wright if healthy. Even if there’s injuries, this team should have plenty of help from their bench, and as we know, the baseball season is very long. The Mets have a good problem with all the depth they have right now.

I’d say their only position with some major holes is Catcher. 2017 is a huge year for Travis d’Arnaud, who was supposed to be a big time hitter. He has shown signs, but has never peaked, and also struggles behind the dish. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mets are in the market for a catcher at the trading deadline, unless d’Arnaud turns it around. Rene Rivera is a solid backup catcher and plays some great defense, but the team does not really have a proven starting catcher. That’s one position the team failed to address in the offseason, but we will see what D’Arnaud has.

Of course, the position that has people opening their eyes at the Mets is their solid, young pitching staff. Noah Syndergaard looks to be the team’s number 1, and will be backed up by Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey, 2 guys who at times looked like they were the Mets’ number 1 pitcher. These 3 guys could be Cy Young Candidates. It will also be great to see Zack Wheeler back in action, as he has a lot to prove coming off of an injury. And of course, one of the key pitchers for the team in 2016 down the stretch is Robert Gsellman, who will be a great number 5 starter to start off the season. The team will miss Steven Matz, who’s not on the opening day roster due to injury. Of course, the team will go as far as this pitching staff brings them. In 2015, the staff was pretty healthy, and that’s why they made a World Series run. 2016, the staff was constantly injured, and they still found a way into the playoffs. We all know it, this staff has to stay healthy. They no longer have Bartolo Colon to cover for all these young guys, but they still have depth and talent. If the staff stays healthy, I don’t see why this team can’t win it all. But they have to stay healthy, it’s that simple.

The only area that scares me is the bullpen. Closer Jeurys Familia will start the season suspended 15 games, so Addison Reed will have to step up. He’s been a closer before, but he looked great as one of the best setup men in baseball last season. When Familia comes back, I really like their 8/9, but as we know with these young pitchers, many times they only go 5 or 6 innings. That means they will need a major contribution from their bullpen. Fernando Salas also could be under the radar, and end up being very important for this bullpen, especially during Familia’s suspension. The bullpen has some potential, but look at a guy like Hansel Robles. At times, he looks like the best pitcher in the league, but then there’s times when he can’t find the strike zone. Seth Lugo will also be a nice player, who also can start some games. He was another pitcher who came up big down the stretch during the 2016 playoff run. Maybe come trade deadline, the team will pick up a reliever, but they could end up being the surprise of this Mets team.

I’m sure I speak on behalf of many Mets fans in saying I expect a deep postseason run this year. I know it’s a long season and I know injuries happen, but this team has the makeup to challenge the Chicago Cubs for the National League Pennant. Their depth could help them get through some injuries. They have great offensive potential, and their pitching staff could end up being the best in baseball. The key phrase to the season is stay healthy. If this team stays healthy, I think they could win the World Series. Only Mets fans see this, but this team has the potential to be one of the best Mets teams we’ve ever seen. But, baseball can be very unpredictable, and it’s great to have it back. I think 2017’s going to be a special season for the Mets.

Mike’s Final Record Prediction for the New York Mets: 94-68

3 Sleeper teams that could make some noise in the 2017 NCAA Basketball Tournament

It’s March!! It’s that time of the year again when brackets get busted. A time full of excitement and surprise, March Madness gets more unpredictable every year. Here are 3 teams that are currently under the radar, but could definitely make some noise during the 2017 tournament.

Via USA Today Sports

3. UNC Wilmington

UNC Wilmington won the CAA regular season title, as well as the tournament, finishing the season with a record of 29-5. Lead by Senior Chris Flemmings and Sophomore CJ Bryce, the team likes to shoot the 3 ball, which can really jumpstart their offense. They also play very tough defense, with the ability to execute a quality press that could give teams some trouble. They are a 12 seed, and many of their players have tournament experience, after losing to Duke in last year’s tournament 93-85, and leading at half time. This team could make some noise in the tournament, and will be a very tough out as a 12 seed. Watch out for UNC Wilmington.

Via USA Today Sports

2. Middle Tennessee  

With players who have tournament experience, this team shocked the world last year when they upset 2 seed Michigan State in the 1st round last year as a 15 seed. Watch out for the Middle Tennessee, now a 12 seed, as some of their core players are upper classmen. Teams with players who have been playing together for a while tend to find success, even vs power 5 conference teams. Some think Middle Tennessee could make even more noise this year than last year, and it all starts with their experience working together.

Via USA Today Sports

1. Michigan

Maybe not a surprise after they won the Big 10 championship, but Michigan is one of the hottest teams in the country. In the Big 10 tournament, they got through 2 of the best teams in the Big 10 in Purdue and Wisconsin, leading to their championship run. They are playing team oriented basketball, and have the ability to make a deep run as a 7 seed. With some upsets that are very possible, they could find themselves in the elite 8. Anything can happen, and we’ve seen teams like UConn win their conference tournament, not as the favorite, and going on to win the National Championship. Watch out for Michigan, as we’ve seen this story before.

 

Preview of the National League Wild Card game: New York Mets vs San Francisco Giants

The stage is set. Noah Syndergaard will face Madison Bumgarner in the National League Wild Card game; a battle between 2 of the best pitchers in baseball. For the Giants, they expect to win because it’s an even year. In 2010, 2012, and 2014 the Giants have won the World Series. So it only makes sense that they win it in 2016 right?  The Mets will have a chance to end that streak, and get a chance to rematch the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs.

mets-playoffs
Via the Associated Press

The Mets have a few edges in this matchup, and one of the most important ones is the home field advantage. This game will be played at Citi Field, so it is the fans’ job to be loud and into the game, supporting their team. Met fans are very excited. Keep in mind this is only the 2nd time in franchise history they have made it to the playoffs in back to back seasons. I think the Mets could feed off of an excited crowd, and use it to their advantage. If the Giants jump and score on Syndergaard early, they will take the fans right out of the game.

citi-field
Via the Associated Press

Noah Syndergaard had a great season, but the Giants have the starting pitcher advantage. Madison Bumgarner went on an insane run in 2014, leading the Giants to a World Series victory and receiving the World Series MVP that year. He is a 3 time World Series champion. The reality is he does not know how to lose in the playoffs, which will make a Met victory very tough. The Mets need to find a way to jump on Bumgarner early. If they can get him off of his game early, this could be their day.

bumgarner
Via USA Today Sports

Another issue with Bumgarner is he’s a lefty, and some of the Mets’ core hitters are lefties including Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, and Lucas Duda. These guys might have a tough time against Bumgarner, but they need to stay patient. It is very important to get Bumgarner’s pitch count up, regardless of how many runs they score. The Mets should want to face a very weak Giants bullpen, which means getting Bumgarner out of the game. It seems the Giants blow a save every night, and that is why it is important for the Mets to keep it close. I do not see them running away with the game as long as Bumgarner is on the mound.

curtis
Via Getty Images

Then there’s the x-factor: Noah Syndergaard. If he matches Madison Bumgarner, the Mets should win this game. The Mets have the edge in bullpen, so if this game is close late with Bumgarner out of the game, this game could fall in the Mets’ favor. It is utmost pivotal that Syndergaard pitches a gem. We know he can, we have seen it before. In 2015, he pitched and won the Mets’ only win in the World Series. He has to know the Mets will not score many runs going into this game, and if he wants to win, the same must happen to the Giants.

noah
Via the Associated Press

Madison Bumgarner worries me. It’s a 1 game Wild Card, it’s a wash. Either team could win this game. The Giants have the starting pitching edge, but Noah Syndergaard can be just as good. The Mets have to take advantage of this game being played in queens. A win in this game would be huge for the franchise. If they win this game, anything can happen from there. The Mets are one of the hottest teams in baseball, and the Giants have been one of the coldest teams since the All Star break. So Mets fans, enjoy this game. This pitching matchup is very good for baseball. If Noah Syndergaard out duels Madison Bumgarner, he will make a name for himself if he hasn’t already. The whole season comes down to 1 game, and Mets fans are pumped up about it.

Why signing Tim Tebow makes sense for any MLB Team

It’s Tebow time in New York again. The former NFL quarterback has been signed by the Mets. It seemed like the overall feeling on this was why? People wonder how he would be able to succeed in baseball since he hasn’t played it in quite a few years. He is 29, but he is a very good athlete. A strong guy, with decent speed, he has a few tools that can lead to some kind of success in baseball. I will also say this is probably not a spur of the moment decision for Tebow. He’s been out of football for a few years, so he may have been working on his baseball game. The feeling seems to be that he is a long shot to play in the big leagues.

San Diego Chargers v New York Jets
Via Getty Images

I on the other hand think he will make an appearance in the big leagues. But, it all depends on how the Mets preform. Hypothetically speaking, lets say the Mets are irrelevant in a September, and it’s time for the rosters to expand to 40 players. I could see the Mets calling him up, to sell seats in the stadium. That would be a no brainer. In addition to this, you have to think he will see time in spring training. Fans that don’t watch spring training may watch, to see how he preforms. I know I will definitely watch to see how he does.

tebow
Via the Associated Press

Don’t forget about the minor leagues. I would go to say a Brooklyn Cyclones game to see Tebow play. Whether you’re a fan of Tebow or not, you’d be curious to see how he preforms on the ball field. So, I did not bash this signing. Yes, it very well may be for the money. But it is also a low risk choice on a very talented athlete. I think this falls under the category of you never know. I do not think he will be a distraction, he handles himself well. That is why I feel all 32 baseball teams should have been interested in him.

A rematch in the NBA Finals

LeBron James
Via nba.com

Whether you like it or not, there are many intriguing storylines that headline the 2016 NBA Finals. A rematch between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors will begin tonight. It appeared as though the Cavs would be taking on Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder, but they blew a 3 games to 1 lead against the Warriors, and ended up losing in 7.

Any time the Warriors are counted out, they seem to find a way. The team went 73-9 in the regular season, the best regular season record in NBA history. Players admit on Golden State that they get their opponents best matchup every night. You can bet they’re going to get a fired up Cleveland team that lost in 6 games to the Warriors in the 2015 Finals. There is a major difference in this final, because it is not LeBron James vs the Warriors, this time he has Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love healthy. Love was out all of the Finals last season and Irving went down in game 1. These two players are key for Cleveland to be victorious.

Klay Thompson and Steph Curry are going to shoot the lights out for the Warriors, but I think the Warriors will go down to the Cavs in this series in 7 games. Last year, LeBron almost single handedly defeated the Warriors, but went down in 6 games. This Cavs team is healthy, and has been the best team thus far in the playoffs. LeBron will be the playmaker he always is, but he is going to need help from Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and JR Smith.

The city of Cleveland is due for a championship. LeBron James would want nothing more than to get his home city a championship. They are hungry, and this might be the best team they’ve ever had in terms of personnel. I will not be surprised if Steph Curry and Klay Thompson lead this historic Warriors to their second straight NBA Finals championship, but I’m taking the Cavs to win it all. The Cavs are arguably the hottest team in basketball and they remember what happened last year.Lets not forget this is LeBron James’ 7th NBA Finals appearance. He may have a losing record, but he knows what it takes to win. My prediction: Cleveland Cavaliers in 7 games. NBA Finals MVP: Kyrie Irving.