Once again in the pitcher-friendly Citi Field, it was the Mets rotation that helped them stay afloat in 2011:
Why?: Let me put it to you this way, the Mets would have had a way worse team even if they had not lost Jose Reyes.
Now that I’ve said that, let’s compare the two columns side-by-side. Sure they got two good bullpen options in Fransisco and Rauch, but they don’t have either of their closers from last year (K-Rod and Isringhausen).
The other two additions the Mets made were to add an Outfielder and a shortstop via Torres and Cedeño. What they lost, however, were three Outfielders-two of which were starters- and quite possibly THE best (offensive) Shortstop in the game last year.
If all that weren’t enough, they also lost two starting pitchers and a decent bullpen option that happens to be the only player I’ve played catch with.
I think I might be a little too harsh with them due to them being my local over-shadowed team, but I’ll stick with it.
Predicted Record Range: 67-72 wins. I wouldn’t surprise me, though, if they surpassed this total. The Mets seem to be one of those teams that does the opposite of whatever is expected of them. When they are predicted to win the division, they falter at the end of the season. When they are predicted to stink, the go on a run in June where they are the best team in baseball.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Yes, it truly was a tale of two seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011:
Casey McGehee, Rod Barajas, Clint Barmes, Erik Bedard, Ryota Igarashi (because he’s the only Major Leaguer I’ve played catch with), Nate McLouth, and Doug Slaten.
Paul Maholm, Joe Biemel, Ronny Cedeño, Ryan Doumit, Nelson Figueroa, Ross Ohlendorf, Chris Snyder, and Jose Veras.
Why?: The Pirates have had the most transactions of any team I have done a recap for (the total number of names is probably double that of the list of notable transactions. That said, they also don’t have the big names going back and forth so its kind of hard to account how much all of these little gains and losses will affect the team in the aggregate. Some of these additions might not even give the Pirates an extra win. I mean will Doug Slaten have much of an impact of the Pirates? Probably not. I’m not that sure of how these things will pan out in most predictions, much less so many of them.
Anywho, they did make some higher impact changes. Paul Maholm was a big part of their rotation that has left, and the acquisitions of Erik Bedard and Casey McGehee are sure to help the team have their first winning season of the last 20.
However, this grade could possibly and probably should be lower. The reason the grade isn’t where it most likely would be had I done this recap in a month is because two Pirates (Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick) are still on the free agent market and I have to leave the possibility open that they will return to the Pirates-even if they probably won’t. If both of those are on the “Notable Subtractions” list, my grade for the team is probably a half a grade lower, if not more.
Predicted Record Range: 79-84 wins. The NL Central is depleted, but this number will go down if Lee and/or Ludwick don’t re-sign.
Remember that I went to the game in May and it got cancelled. Well, it was rescheduled for this day in July and it looked fine:
Not as good as it did the day it got cancelled but not horrible rain-away-batting practice bad.
When I got to the gate I noticed something odd:
Do you see the gates marked by the arrows? I have never seen them before. I know I haven’t been to Citi Field in over a month but it was just weird seeing them. I know the purpose is to corral people even more and it is a good idea but I wonder why they hadn’t done it sooner. Also upon arriving, I wondered if my ticket from the initial game would work:
Initially, I was somber because going to this game reminded of the initial game in which I am now comfortable (with all the hecktivity gone) announcing that the responsibilities I was lifted of were those of taking care of my ailing dad. On that day May, 17, 2011 my father passed away.
What game? I was the first one to the left field bleachers beating all the other ballhawks in attendance (four according to mygamebals.com). I got Mookie Wilson to toss me a ball within the first minute. I first asked him if he could toss me a ball and he told me no but then tossed it up anyway after I said that it was ok and thanked him “anyway”. That is now the second time i have used the “can you toss me a ball please” line and that exact same scenario has occurred. The last time was in Miami. Here is a diagram of where I was and the flight of the ball:
The solid arrow is where I was and the dotted is how he threw me the ball. In retrospect, he was probably about five feet from the ball but whatever, you get the idea.
As the ballhawks arrived, I moved over to the empty center field section and running down the stairs, yelled out to Ryota Igarashi in Japanese for a ball. The next picture shows how the whole thing unfolded:
The names are pretty self-explanatory. The solid line is how far he went to shag the ball. The two dotted lines are what happened afterward. He liked my request so much we played catch for as many throws as it took me to fall into the seats. You see when I throw a baseball I have a longer stride than most people and that produces my right leg (I’m a righty) to come up after the pitch every time I want to get something behind the ball. If you look carefully behind the word “me” you will see there is a railing. Since I was on the right side of the railing, that cuts the aisle in half and made me make the choice of falling off a lot into the seats on my left, smacking my leg into the railing, or throw very slowly. I was going to go with the third but when I lobbed the ball into him and he made the hand gesture saying it was ok I tried to throw my slider but because the aisle was so narrow not only did the ball have no movement as I fell into the seats but I bounced it to him. I think he knew then to stop and called it of. Still, it was a great experience.
I moved over to right field in hopes that those players shagging there would toss me a ball but it didn’t take long to figure out they had seen me play catch with Igarashi. I moved back over to Left for Marlins bp.
But first, I want to show you one of the motifs of Mets bp:
If you can’t see the screen in front of 2nd base is down. Throughout the duration of bp it kept falling down. There wasn’t that much wind. I have had days were it was gusting circa 20 mph and the screen didn’t blow down. I don’t know I guess it’s just the Mets way of life.
As I got to left field and saw the first two batters I knew it was the big group:
Those hitters are (from left to right): Hanley Ramirez, John Buck, Mike Stanton, and Mike Cameron. I think if you take any two of them it is a pretty good time to be in left field but all four of them and you have a super group. I cannot think how good the left field seats in Sun Life Stadium would be this year if it opened 2.5 hours early. That said, I only got one ball from this group. I stayed back because of their power and it paid off when a ball bounced a few rows in front of me and I ran up an aisle an grabbed it off the paved steps:
When I look at it now it was hit pretty far. Guess who hit it. Mike Stanton. Of course that was not the only thing he hit:
In my 20+ games at Citi FieldI have never seen a player hit the Amtrak club. I am surprised that someone had not hit it sooner but not surprised it was Stanton to do it. Before I get too off topic, I want to mention I gave the Stanton ball to a kid who was chasing after me:
I can’t exactly tell if that is him in the stripes as I remember his face more but considering this is the only photo of its ilk…
I then convinced Randy Choate to toss me a ball in left field. After that I moved over to center field and got Brian Sanches (no that is not a typo) to toss me a ball in the corner spot. For those who don’t know, a corner spot is a place in a section where there is no possibility of anyone being in front or to one side of you because you are in the very first row and to the extremity of that specific section. Now the corner spot is not in this picture but it just demonstrates what happened:
Sanches is number 44 in that picture.
I then, as you can probably tell from the previous picture, moved over to right field in hopes of Mike or Mike (Stanton, Dunn) to throw me a a ball. I didn’t want to be recognized by Sanches who was not that far away so I sat down on the steps near the wall. The steps are so steep that I could sit down and still barely see over the wall:
Eventually a lefty hit a ball to the wall. Mike Dunn went to retrieve it but gave it to a kid much smaller than me. However, a second ball came and since I had made my presence know on the first ball he threw me the second ball:
That was it for bp. I stayed in left field for the game. Both center fielders were occasionally throwing their warm up balls into the stands but I didn’t get any as I was always one staircase away. I am pleased to announce however, Observing Baseball is going green:
I have now been using the promotional Earth Day Metrocard since Earth day itself.
- Six balls at this game (five pictured because I gave one away)
- 79 balls in 22 games= 3.59 balls per game
- 47 straight games with at least 1 ball
- 23 straight at Citi Field
- 4 straight games with at least 5 balls
- 6 balls* 32,411 fans=194,466 competition factor
- Time at game 4:36-10:19=5 hours 33 minutes