Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rickey's 2008 Baseball Preview: The New York Mets

Ah spring, when every young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of stolen bases, shutouts, and the suicide squeeze. Since we’re somewhat of a sports-related blog at heart, Rickey figured it was high time that he cranked out a write up of his baseball team of favor: the New York Mets. Now we’re sure that Metphistopheles, Metstradamus, MetsBlog, MetsGeek, Metscentric, MetsGrrl, MetsMerized, Metsquire, Metsgasm, and Metsplosion have all weighed in with lengthy in depth previews of the upcoming Mets season by now, but Rickey would like to kick things off on a different note by posing the following question... Which is a worse omen for the 2008 Mets season: the potential Sports Illustrated cover curse, or the possibility of a severely inebriated Billy Joel crashing his convertible into the club locker room? (That’s one helluva sketch if one of you misbegotten madmen wants to run with it).

Indeed, in case you hadn’t noticed, retaining a membership with the Shea Faithful requires a level of gallows humor usually reserved for Bertolt Brecht characters. And for good reason. For the past two seasons, Rickey’s baseball demeanor has broken down thusly:

March/April - Whine about Yankees getting more media attention.
May - August - Bask in the glory of being the best team in New York.
September/October - Douse self in gasoline. Light match.

And we’re hoping to continue that proud tradition of dashed hopes and shattered dreams in the 2008 season as the Metropolitans gear up for opening day a scant 10 days from now. So now, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the more notable figures in the Mets lineup whose feats of strength and prowess will impact upon Rickey’s sanity over the course of the next half year.

RYAN CHURCH: Rickey predicts that Church is going to give the Mets a .275 average and an awful lot of doubles this season, which is pretty solid for a seventh slot hitter in the NL. The problem is that Church was never the same after that nasty 2005 collision while playing for the Nationals and after his latest bang up with Marlon Anderson, we’re not even certain the guy knows what freaking year it is right now.

CARLOS BELTRAN: Needs to step it up in ‘08, big time. Rickey’s had it with the nagging injuries involving his hamstring. We know, we know, he’s “playing through the pain,” but honestly now: how much longer until we can officially call this guy soft?

MOISES ALOU: Starting the year off strong, on the DL! When he’s healthy, he’s basically a hitting machine. Rickey’s hoping that the power of Alou’s urine soaked hands compels him to play 120 games, but we’re certainly not holding our breath. And this is yet another reason why the Mets absolutely need an average backup outfielder who can fill in at various spots. Shawn Greene, anyone? Retirement schmierment, deep down, the Hebrew Hammer has another good season in him and Rickey knows it.

CARLOS DELGADO: Look, Rickey could excuse his soft spoken demeanor and low profile if, you know, the guy would just hit the goddamned ball every once in a while. But he isn’t, so Rickey can’t. Stand up for the National Anthem Delgado, or so help us, Rickey will launch a one man incursion to raze the areas of Vieques that the U.S. Navy left still standing. Ahem, who’s next? Ah yes:

LUIS CASTILLO: A perfectly competent second baseman with decent stats, all that is required of Castillo is a smattering of hit and runs to allow Reyes to scamper to infinity and beyond. We think Castillo’s up to the task. In the interest of full disclosure, we must inform you that Rickey is secretly rooting for Jose Valentin to make his triumphant return to second base at some point in 2008. Go, Stache, Go!

REYES/WRIGHT: Transcendent. Watching these two young ‘uns play for that elusive “love of the game” is what will keep Rickey glued to the sports page of the newspapers each day. As their ups and downs go, so goes the fate of the New York Mets. We’d talk more about them, but this entire column relies primarily upon mockery and we find ourselves completely unable to ridicule these two smashing gents. How’s this: Reyes looks like a Muppet! Are you satisfied now?

RAMON CASTRO/BRIAN SCHNEIDER: With Schneider banged up, Rickey’s looking forward to seeing Castro step it up and be as scary good (and all around scary) as we suspect he can be. As far as backup catchers go, Castro is one of the best in the game and receives a criminally low amount of coverage from the sports media at large. Schneider? Well, he’s great at playing catch and that’s just about it.

ORLANDO HERNANDEZ: Legally dead. When your fastball tops out at 81mph during a simulated game, the time has come to seriously consider hanging up your hat. Which brings us to…

MIKE PELFREY: Please, please, please let Wille Randolph do the right thing and put Pelfrey in the 5 spot. He may still be rough, but anything’s better than watching Duque toss meatballs over home plate.

PEDRO MARTINEZ: He’s thrown 160 innings in the last two seasons combined, so who freaking knows? And he’s into cockfighting, which we assume is intended to fill the void of pitting the late Nelson de la Rosa against ravenous Chihuahuas in the back alleys of Newbury Street. Barring a complete collapse from Pedro in ‘08, Rickey fully expects to see Pedro get a 2 to 3 year contract extension because, let’s face it, Johan & Pedro heading up the Mets rotation is a marketing wet dream for Omar Minaya.

OLIVER PEREZ: Apparently all it takes is a butterfly fluttering about in Shea to make Ollie go from lights out awesome to terrifyingly combustible in the blink of an eye. The man is a complete enigma to Rickey. You think the pressure of pitching in a contract year helps or hinders a guy like that? Yeah, not so much…

JOHN MAINE: His brilliant 2007 season finale excluded, Maine’s second half performances haven’t been all that stellar. But Rickey likes what he’s seeing from the Maine man so far this spring. We’re thinking big things this year Johnny, don’t let Rickey down.

JOHAN SANTANA: You know, we’ve heard a few good things about this Santana fellow. In fact, a whole lot of folks consider him to be the very best pitcher on the face of the earth. He just makes us want to giddily make bombastic statements like: “Easily the best Mets acquisition in 20 years” or “Baseball Jesus” or “The reason the sun rises in the morning.” The bottom line is that if we don’t see 18 wins from this guy, Rickey will eat his hat.

BULLPEN: Let’s see here: Wise, Schoenweis, Heilman, Sanchez, Felieciano, Sosa, Wagner, and (if the baseball gods are kind to Rickey) El Duque. That’s a pretty deep and formidable bullpen there folks. Let’s hope that shaky starts from Mets starters don’t unnecessarily tax them over the course of the season, because Aaron Heilman is already grumpy enough as it is.

In case you hadn’t gathered, staying healthy is kind of a big deal for the Mets—more so than for other teams due to their shallow farm system. To prevent Rickey from overdosing on Maalox, here’s what needs to happen in 2008: Pedro Martinez needs to stave off long Disabled List stays, Oliver Perez needs to adopt some sort of “clear the mechanism!” baseball mantra to achieve inner peace on the pitcher’s mound, Orlando Hernandez needs to be put out to pasture, and Carlos Delgado needs to not completely fall into Sean Casey territory. Also, it would sort of help if Castillo, Schneider and Chavez could perform above replacement level. That having been said, the rest of the gang can just keep on doing what they do best and the Mets will earn themselves a chance for redemption in October of 2008.

Potential rivals in the NL? Well there’s the obvious Phillies, but Rickey also has his eyes on those pesky Dodgers. That’s a team that could easily explode and give the Mets a hard time. Motivated by watching their manager sip Bigelow green tea and constantly pick his nose in the dugout, these Dodgers could become awfully frisky awfully fast. Has anyone in any sport ever benefited more from the team around him then Joe Torre? Rickey thinks not.

[Posted at Humor-Blogs] Who says there isn't humor to be found in competitive sports?

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8 comments:

Rickey Henderson said...

P.S.: There are exactly two references to a mediocre Kevin Costner baseball movie lodged withing this column. A buffalo nickel goes to whoever can spot 'em.

Smitty said...

I do not know these people called Mets. These seem like interesting fellows.

Ed the Gent said...

Rickey,

As for your thoughts on Church: spot on. Dealing with a nasty concussion with a new team AND a new baby does not spell for a promising season.

And for potential rivals: I wouldn't count out the Nats. Sure, they have absolutely no rotation (they just let go of Patterson, who I wouldn't be surprised if he gets a call from Omar). But they do have Lastings, which in my book, means championship potential (a stretch, perhaps).

Etg

Mike said...

Rickey’s had it with the nagging injuries involving his hamstring

A certain irony to that statement. I mean, I know that Nick ain't really Rick, but still . . .

Meanwhile, between Beltran/Alou and their ability to stay in the lineup, and Delgado's ability to stay above the Mendoza line, we have some potential batting depth troubles here.

The Left Side Of The Infield Boys will surely help.

Rickey Henderson said...

What? Nagging back issues aside, Rickey's fit as a fiddle, and working to be moreso.

Dexter Francois said...

Let's go Mets. I get to go to the Mets opener against the Marlins here in S. Florida. I love when the Mets are in town. We always outnumber the Marlin fans in there own stadium. This is the year. Let's go Mets, Let's go Mets, Let's go...

Mike said...

Surely Rickey remembers his nagging "hammy" back in his days with the loathsome Yankees?

"Rickey wants to play, but Rickey's hammy ain't cooperating . . ." and all that sort of thing?

Rickey Henderson said...

Oh yes, that. Ahem, indeed.