Tagged: carlos beltran

Beckham Jr. and Chavez made the greatest catches that never mattered

My rant in the Newsday Sports section today

My rant in the Newsday Sports section today

On Sunday night, Odell Beckham Jr. made one of the most incredible catches you’ll ever see in the Giants loss to the Cowboys. The catch could be found within minutes all over the internet and will be sure to live on in highlight reels for eternity. After  watching the play for what felt like the thousandth time, I couldn’t help but feel a similarity to the Endy Chavez catch in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS.

It’s not easy for me to think about the 2006 NLCS. Typing this post has brought back all sorts of bad memories. Game 7 was one of those nights where all Mets fans can tell you where they experienced that misery.  As for me, I watched at a bar called Reefers in Federal Hill, Baltimore while I was still attending Towson University. I remember it like it was yesterday. With the game tied in the sixth inning Scott Rolen tattooed a ball to deep left field, it appeared that would put an end to the Mets World Series hopes and dreams.

Endy Chavez tracked that ball at full speed all the way back to the warning track, leaped up and slammed his body against the wall while putting his arm out to its full extension. Somehow, someway, Chavez was able to snag it a few feet over the fence. When he landed, he had to take a double-check into his glove, as I think he was in as much disbelief as the rest of us that he had actually made that catch. He then quickly fired it back into the infield and the Mets were able to double Jim Edmonds off of first base for an inning ending double play. It was a surreal moment. There was no way the Mets were going to lose that game.

Then the unthinkable happened. It started with Yadier Molina hitting a two-run home run in the ninth inning off of Aaron Heilman, well out of Chavezs’ reach this time. As if that wasn’t heart breaking enough, the Mets went on to load the bases in the bottom of the ninth for Carlos Beltran. Beltran, had already established himself as a great postseason performer, earning his contract with the Mets after going on a tear just a few Octobers earlier with the Houston Astros. But wouldn’t you know the Mets luck, Beltran went down looking at a 3-2 curveball from rookie Adam Wainwright.

Although Beckham JR’s catch was made in the regular season for a flailing Giants team, it will still be remembered as an all-time great play. Chavez on the other hand, went from making arguably the greatest catch in postseason history, to making the greatest catch that also brings about the greatest amount of heartache to its fan base. I will always remember it as a bittersweet moment in Mets history.

Ultimately both the Giants and Mets lost those respective games. I do have to give the edge to Chavez simply because of the situation in which he made his. But the ultimate goal is always to win the game, after all, these are teams sports. For that reason alone, these will both be known as the greatest catches that never really mattered in NY sports.

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Why did the Mets let George Greer leave?

George Greer while he was serving as hitting coach with the Brooklyn Cyclones

George Greer while he was serving as hitting coach with the Brooklyn Cyclones

Earlier in the week it was announced that the Mets Triple-A hitting coach George Greer had been hired by the St. Louis Cardinals. Greer was named the Cardinals system wide hitting coach. It is well-known that the Mets are in search of a new hitting coach, thus making the timing of this move a bit odd to me.

The Cardinals have been one of the premier franchises in the sport for some time now. They compete for a World Series title year in, year out, leaving many wondering just how do they do it? Very rarely do you see the Cardinals give out long-term deals to overpriced free agents. They let arguable the games best player at the time, Albert Pujols, walk and they didn’t even skip a beat. I credit much of this to their player development and scouting department. An area which the Mets undoubtedly need to improve on.

This is what left me thinking, What exactly are the Cardinals seeing in Greer that the Mets aren’t? If an organization of the Cardinals stature felt he was worth such a position, why wouldn’t the Mets do their best to hold onto him? Greer was rumored to be a potential candidate for the Mets hitting coach, I’ll go ahead and assume he felt he was not going to be offered the position. Aside from that, interim hitting coach Lamar Johnson was told the Mets would not be retaining him as the teams hitting coach, choosing to rather reassign him elsewhere within the organization. These two factors must have played a big part in Greer making the decision to leave so quickly.  But at the very least, why wasn’t he offered a similar position within the organization?

I’ll be the first to say that I think the value of a hitting coach is overstated. These are major league baseball players, they already know how to hit and require very little coaching at this level of play. With that being said, even the best of players can develop bad habits and go into a slump. This is where the advice from a hitting coach may come into play. Besides the occasional tweak or words of encouragement to a younger player, I don’t think a hitting coach has the ability to turn around an entire offense simply by his presence.

At the end of the day, this is just a minor league hitting instructor. But this move left me once again questioning the thought process within our front office. Look around the league, unless you are willing to open up your checkbook like the Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox, you must rely heavily on your farm system to build from within. Maybe I’m overstating this and Greer is an easily replaceable coach, but I have to doubt that if an organization of the Cardinals caliber was willing to scoop him away.

Two exciting endings – Two different results

subwayseries

The Mets and Yankees fan bases were filled with two different emotions Friday night, as we given two exciting, yet opposite, endings within a half an hour of each other.

First, we have the Mets. After winning two straight games, the Mets looked to continue to build momentum and put together a winning streak. Once again, the offense struggled to score runs as they trailed 3-0 heading into the latter innings of the game. The Mets offense were able to muster together a few runs to cut the lead to one heading into the ninth inning.

Kirk Niuewenhuis led the inning off with a pitch hit double over Giancarlo Stantons head in right field. After Ruben Tejada laid down a sacrifice bunt, the Mets now had a runner on third base with one out and Chris Young stepping to the plate. Young, merely had to hit a fly ball into the outfield to tie this game up and keep the Mets alive. Although that doesn’t sound like it is asking too much, Young has been struggling to even make contact most of this season. But, he was able to get the ball in the air to left field, which at first glance appeared to be enough to get the run in.

Earlier in the game, the Mets challenged the arm of left fielder Marcell Ozuna when David Wright was gunned down at the plate. It was a risky move, as Wright didn’t have much of a chance to score, but the Mets have to take their chances when they come. As Ozuna began to circle under this fly ball, you began to realize it was not as hit as deep as initially thought. Ozuna took a full running start as he caught the ball and fired a strike to home plate, deja vu, Nieunwenhuis was out a the plate to end the ball game.

He didn’t just throw him out, he was dead upon arrival. In the words of Charlie Brown, good grief. The Mets continue to find new ways to lose…

Then we have the Yankees. Unlike the Mets, who failed to complete their 9th inning comeback, the Yankees were able to finish the job. With the score 3-1 in the ninth, the Orioles sent out newly appointed closer Zack Britton. Britton, has been very effective in his new role, until last night. Brett Gardner was able to start things off with a lead off single. But he would be followed up by a Derek Jeter Strikeout and Jacoby Ellsbury fly out to quickly make it two outs with a runner on first. Mark Teixeiria stepped up next and was able to work a walk to keep the inning alive. Brian McCann, who has been struggling with the bat, hit a double to cut the lead to one run as Gardner scored.

It was now Carlos Beltran’s turn up at the plate. Beltran, is playing through elbow issues and is stuck mostly at the DH position since returning from the DL. You have to give Beltran credit, he could have easily taken the surgery route and missed most of, if not all, of the season. But he has toughed it out and gotten himself back into a lineup that desperately needs him. Beltran, batting right-handed against the left-hander, gave one a ride over the left field wall for a walk-off win.

The Yankees are in the middle of an important part of their schedule. This stretch includes games mostly against divisional opponents who sit atop the AL East, making this win all the more important. This game should help the Yankees confidence and leave the Orioles down on themselves for letting one slip away. Let’s see if there will be an after effect as these two finish off their weekend series.

 

 

Remember When People Were Worried About Derek Jeter?

jeter

It’s hard to imagine now, but there was actual concern this spring that Derek Jeter may not return to form in 2014. Well, the captain is proving naysayers wrong with each game so far this season.

Jeter, who is playing in his final season, is off to a solid start at the plate. There has been little, if any, signs of rust as he is batting .294 with a .385 OBP so far this year. Once again, Jeter is on pace to produce the type of season we are used to seeing out of the captain. I think the addition of Jacoby Ellsbury has helped him a lot. Having a table-setter on base in front of him, opens up that hole on the right side, a spot he has made a career out of exposing. On top of Ellsbury leading things off, he also has Carlos Beltran hitting directly behind him for protection. Jeter should see plenty of quality pitches at the plate as long as he is surrounded by those two.

I understand the argument made that Jeter is hurting the team defensively. I understand it, but I don’t entirely agree with it. Are there ground balls that Jeter doesn’t get to anymore? Sure. But he still makes all of the plays that a SS is supposed to make. He won’t be winning a gold glove one last time, but the Yankees don’t need him too. He just needs to do what he has done for years, make the routine plays and keep running out there every day he’s capable of. Continue reading

Juan Lagares has a knack for coming through in the clutch

lagares

Juan Lagares has exceeded offensive expectations

Everyone knew what Juan Lagares brought to the table defensively, but the question remained as to what he would bring with his bat. There were grumbling all of spring training in concerns to if Lagares would hit enough to be an everyday player. So far, he has put all of those concerns to rest. It’s not just that he’s hitting, but it’s when he’s doing his damage.

This franchise has lacked players that come through in the clutch for some time now, and in a small sample size, Lagares looks like one of those guys. 

Continue reading

What a difference a year makes – The Yankees enter 2014 full of new faces

Yankees

What a difference a year can make. The 2014 Yankees lineup will consist of only one player (Brett Gardner) who was in the 2013 opening day lineup.

This offseason the Yankees came out swinging, spending over half a billion dollars to revamp this roster. Despite  their spending spree, the Red Sox are still considered the favorites to repeat as division champions. Some analyst are even projecting the Rays to finish above the Yankees as well. I see this working to the Yankees benefit, sometimes being an underdog, and I use that term very loosely for a team with a $200 million dollar payroll, can be used as season long motivation.

2013

  1. Brett Gardner CF
  2. Eduardo Nunez SS
  3. Robinson Cano 2B
  4. Kevin Youkilis 1B
  5. Vernon Wells LF
  6. Ben Francisco DH
  7. Ichiro Suzuki RF
  8. Jayson Nix 3B
  9. Francisco Cervelli C

Starting Pitcher: CC Sabathia

2014 (projected):

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury CF
  2. Derek Jeter SS
  3. Carlos Beltran RF
  4. Brian McCann C
  5. Mark Teixeira 1B
  6. Alfonso Soriano DH
  7. Brett Gardner LF
  8. Brian Roberts 2B
  9. Kelly Johnson 3B

Starting Pitcher: CC Sabathia

The biggest concern I have for this roster is if they can remain healthy. This is an aging roster with a long list of injuries up and down the lineup. Jeter and Teixeira are returning from injury plagued seasons, Brian Roberts hasn’t played a full season in a few years now and Jacoby Ellsbury is well-known to be injury prone. Brian McCann has also spent his share of time on the DL the past three seasons, which doesn’t bode well for a 30-year-old catcher.

If, and its a big if, they can remain healthy, I see no reason why the Yankees won’t be competing for a division title down the stretch and at the very least snag one of the wild card spots.

Mets Opening Day: Aint Nuthin’ But A “Gee” Thang

Mets have named Dillion Gee their opening day starter

Mets have named Dillion Gee their opening day starter

The Mets made it official yesterday and announced Dillon Gee as their opening day starter. There had been grumblings about this for about a week or so now, so this news comes as a shock to no one.

Opening Day is all about a fresh start for a team and their fan base, a new beginning with endless possibilities. No matter how bad your team was last season, everyone comes into Opening Day with a glimmer of hope. For the Mets, our hope relies on our young starting pitching. Obviously this start we have been given to Harvey if healthy, but he’s not. Syndergaard became the story of spring training, but he won’t be seeing Citi Field until the summer. Dillon Gee, while reliable and effective, does not represent one of these talents,  Zack Wheeler dos.

Wheeler, the prized return in the Carlos Beltran trade, has been looked upon as a building block since his arrival. Wheeler showed signs of his potential dominance and had us thinking he could be a major factor in leading this team back to the playoffs. This is the man who brings that promise and excitement with him each time he takes the mound, Wheeler needed to be given this start.

I’m not trying to knock on Dillon Gee, I’m actually a big fan of his. I believe he is a great piece to go along with the young power arms of Harvey, Syndergaard and Wheeler in the future rotation. If he can slide in as the team’s future #4 or #5 starter, I couldn’t be happier with that situation. Gee reminds me of a young Rick Reed, he doesn’t throw overly hard, but he moves the ball around and changes speeds to keep batters off-balance. Gee always keeps the Mets in the ballgame, but his style doesn’t exactly rile up the fans.

The Mets really missed the boat on this one, Wheeler’s presence alone would have been significant with one of our “big three” leading the way in 2014. In any case, this won’t matter in the long run of the season, but it would have added to the anticipation of what could come this year.