Author Archives: John Wenk

About John Wenk

I live in Northern Westchester, NY, and I am a lifelong Mets fan. I received my degree in Communication & Media from SUNY New Paltz. Over the years, this franchise has taught me how to hope for the best, but expect the worst, all while providing me with baseball memories to last a lifetime. My favorite Mets player of all time is John Olerud because of his demeanor and all around solid approach to the game. I wish the Mets would get rid of all the black in their uniforms, but wish they'd get rid of Oliver Perez even more. I hope my opinions can stir up everyone's interest a bit.

The Future Pridie of the Mets Bench

DENVER, CO - MAY 10:  Jason Pridie #20 of the ...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

When I think of offensive ineptitude, I think of the Mets bench. When I think of a career minor leaguer who can possibly serve a valuable purpose for the Mets down the road, I think of Jason Pridie. Since being called up, Pridie has turned heads by belting a few home runs in clutch spots, something that the every day players have rarely done so far this season. I think most fans can agree that the Mets are far from a playoff caliber ball club. There are gaping holes in the starting rotation and the lineup does not produce consistently enough to contend. With that said, I think that this year, seemingly more than ever, the Mets bench has left so much to be desired. Whether its Willie Harris grounding out softly with a runner in scoring position or Scott Hairston swinging out of his shoes leading off down 2 runs in the 9th, the bench players on this team have just not come through.

Bench players in baseball are some of the most under-appreciated athletes around. When called upon off the pine, they are basically thrown to the wolves and must perform with far less comfort than someone going up for their 4th at-bat of a game. In addition, they usually find themselves in crucial situations of games. It is a role in which failure requires a player to wait another night for redemption, but if a big hit is delivered, an invaluable source of energy is ignited and can carry over.

The Mets have had some very reliable pinch hitting specialists in the past. Rusty Staub was a feared pinch hitting dinosaur in the 70′s and early 80′s. In one of the most significant trades that the Mets made in the 80′s, they sent pitcher Mike Scott to the Astros for outfielder Danny Heep, who would prove to be a vital player off the bench for the team’s storied run of ’86. More recently, Matt Franco established himself as a feared bat off the bench in the late 90′s and early 2000′s. His claim to fame was in the subway series at Shea in 1999 when he laced a 2-run single with two outs in the 9th to win a game off Mariano Rivera. And of course, the all-time pinch hit leader himself, Lenny Harris, had two separate stints with the Mets and hit .302 as a bench player during the 2000 season.

Jason Pridie is a player I’d like to see succeed as a pinch hitter for the Mets in the future. Of course, I’d like to see, Hairston, Harris, and company succeed right now but in my mind they are just not good hitters and have not displayed an ideal approach in critical spots. Pridie hasn’t shown us that he can be that elusive, Matt Stairs’esque pinch hitter but I like him for his sneaky power, his eye at the plate, and the fact that he hasn’t really looked over-matched yet since he’s been called up. If a relief pitcher makes a mistake, especially over the inner half of the plate, I like Pridie’s chances of making the most of it and doing damage, all with lunch pail in hand. His potential might seem minor, but if the Mets can put together a winning formula in the near future I’d be happy to see Pridie be a part of it.

What Most Fans are Really Paying Attention to this Weekend

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 14:  Los Angeles Dodge...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Amidst heavy financial burdens, trade rumors, the aftermath of a messy divorce, and an impressive, yet flawed hit streak, there is actually baseball being played in Queens this weekend between the Mets and the Dodgers.

Much like the Mets, the Dodgers are an under-achieving team in flux at the moment. They have a new manager, are struggling to play .500 baseball, and are faced with the possibility of MLB seizing control of the organization at the end of May when owner Frank McCourt fails to submit the payroll. Although the Mets’ financial situation may not be as desperate as the Dodgers’ at the moment, these two franchises seem to be mirroring each other from the left to right coast.

Despite the off-field issues of each franchise, the attention of both teams fan bases, baseball wise, lie in two individual stories. For Met fans, the electrifying play of Jose Reyes is one of the few highlights of the young season thus far. However, his play has been overshadowed by his looming trade prospects. For Dodger fans, Andre Ethier’s 30 game hit streak has enamored despite the team’s lackluster play as of late. In the eyes of many fans outside of L.A., Ethier’s feat up to this point may not seem as arduous considering he took a day off on Thursday, something Joe DiMaggio never did during his 56 game hit streak. Continue reading

Johan Santana Shoulder Injury Raises Questions

New York Mets starting pitcher Johan Santana throws a pitch to the Colorado Rockies in the fourth inning of their MLB National League baseball game in New York, August 12, 2010. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Well, its that time of the season. Johan Santana has once again, for the third season in a row, been shut down and will need surgery during the off season, this time on his left shoulder. A suitable punctuation to a season highlighted by lackluster play, managerial blunders, and an overall lack of organizational accountability. Of course, this type of grim reality for the ace of a pitching staff can only exist within one franchise, the New York Mets.

Along with agony and disappointment, news of Santana’s most recent injury raises a lot of questions:

Why does the Mets’ medical staff continue to be inept?

Since being acquired prior to the ’08 season, Santana has had some kind of injury/surgery every year. First it was his knee issue, last year he had bone chips in his elbow. What other star player in the league has experienced this type of string? I can’t think of any off the top of my head. I’m no doctor, but I would have to imagine that part of correcting an injury is identifying the measures to prevent future problems. By now, I would have expected that the medical and training staffs have come up with a plan for protecting Santana’s arm. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. This apparent ineptitude has affected other players on the team as well. You have to figure that free agents around the league are probably wary of exploring opportunities with the Mets because of their seemingly shabby and, for lack of a better word, mysterious medical staff. Continue reading

Mets’ Managerial Possibilities for 2011

28 Feb 2002 : Manager Bobby Valentine  of the New York mets during the Spring Training game against the St.Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. The Cardinals won 5-2. DIGTAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Eliot Schechter/Getty Images

With the inevitable end of Jerry Manuel’s tenure in blue and orange looming down the homestretch of another dreadful Mets season, the question on every fan’s mind is who will be his successor come 2011. There are the obvious and popular “sexy” choices to take reigns, as well as the low profile names who have had success within the organization. Here’s my take on the possible candidates:

Bobby Valentine
The Mets manager from the end of the 1996 season through 2002, Valentine has proved he is capable of bringing rejuvenation to the franchise, but the question is at how high a price it would cost this time around? Bobby V. is a New York guy with a New York attitude and exercises the underdog persona that the Mets fan base can cling to. On paper, the teams he brought to the playoffs in ’99 and 2000 were very ordinary. However, he got the most out of his rosters and put a scrappy, competitive, and excuse-free product on the field. There has been a lot of speculation about how interested the organization is in bringing Valentine back to Queens. We have reason to believe that Mets people were in his ear when he bowed out of the Marlins managerial candidacy earlier in the season. Continue reading

Carlos Beltran’s Future with the Mets

July 23, 2010 Los Angeles, CA..Mets Carlos Beltran  in action during the Major League Baseball game between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The Mets defeated the Dodgers, 6-1..Josh Thompson/CSM.

It’s been over two weeks since Carlos Beltran’s return from his knee injury and you can just about stick a fork in the Mets. Prior to his return, I was cautiously optimistic that Beltran would be capable of igniting a power surge in the middle of the lineup. This has not been the case. Instead, we’ve seen him not be able to bat his weight and not be able to display his graceful mobility in center field, suggesting that he is better suited for a corner outfield position at this stage in his career. With another month and half left of what just about promises to be meaningless baseball, Carlos Beltran’s future can be a topic of discussion.

Should the Mets shop him around to other teams this off-season or no? He is Carlos Beltran, and when healthy, he undoubtedly provides a game changing presence. My answer to that question is ‘no’ based on the fact that he will be playing for a new contract in 2011 with his biggest fan Scott Boras by his side. Beltran also has a full no-trade clause and would likely request a contract extension and only accept a trade to a few teams to waive that clause. Continue reading

Mets Quiet at 2010 Trade Deadline

July 23, 2010 Los Angeles, CA..Mets Luis Castillo  in action during the Major League Baseball game between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The Mets defeated the Dodgers, 6-1..Josh Thompson/CSM.

“Mets are in no position to deal prospects of any worth at this point.” -David Lennon of Newsday Long Island

One month ago I would have disagreed with this tweet, as would most Met fans, but at this point I wholeheartedly agree. The team has basically let their season unravel and has not been able to overcome key obstacles. We are now seeing the Mets for what they really are, a flawed .500 caliber baseball club.

The asking price of many of the players on the block is far too high in my opinion to begin with. With the Mets sinking lower and lower in the standings, to trade away the team’s young talent in an act of desperation now would make no sense. Although the Mets do have some promising young players on the farm, the depth of the system is still a concern. The Mets are simply in no position to dispatch prospects in an effort to get climb back into the thick of the race.

As dissatisfied as I was that Omar Minaya didn’t make a move when the team looked like they would stay in contention, I can’t say that I really believe that any pitcher, except for maybe a Cliff Lee or Roy Oswalt, would have made a significant difference. During the recent stretch that has buried the Mets in the standings, the offense, or lack thereof, has been the team’s primarily fault. This is after fans were calling for Minaya’s head for not acquiring a top of the line starting pitcher. I’ll admit, I was one of them.

Although the front office failed in the Lee and Oswalt sweepstakes, I was happy that Omar did not give up Jon Niese or Ike Davis, as I view those two as cogs of the future and trade untouchables. Recently, it was understood that the Astros were asking for Josh Thole and Bobby Parnell in exchange for RHP Brett Myers or perhaps LHP Wandy Rodriguez. Thole looks to be the catcher of the future and Parnell seems to be progressing nicely in his development. Neither of those pitchers are worth Parnell and Thole in my opinion. Continue reading

My Mets Rant After a Week to Forget

Angry Arsenal Fans after Emmanuel Adebayor's 3rd goal Celebration Arsenal 2009/10 Manchester City V Arsenal (4-2) 12/09/09 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International

So far in the second half of this season, the bad has far out-weighed the good in Mets land. The team has lost 6 of 8 and is currently 4 games out of the wild card spot while trailing the Braves by 6.5 games in the NL East. Jason Bay, despite valiant offensive and defensive contributions in Friday night’s 6-1 win against the Dodgers, is giving fans reason to believe he is a bust. The team has won 4 of 15, all 4 of those wins have been started by ace Johan Santana who everyone (including myself) was writing off prior to the break. Mike Pelfrey has seen his ERA inflate to 4 and hasn’t been the same since Father’s Day weekend at Yankee Stadium. Carlos Beltran has returned quietly. He looks capable at bat, although he is still adjusting. However, not surprisingly, he does not appear to possess the same spring in his step as he has in years past roaming center field. With all this said, and more, this team somehow still finds itself in the mix for a playoff spot.

The San Francisco and Arizona series were extremely painful to watch. The team traveled to the West coast with no vigor, no fight. Instead of making a statement, they were embarrassed, and should have been swept by a solid Giants club, then went to the desert and bowed to Barry Enright and the last place Diamondbacks in a 3 straight. The managing was questionable, the execution was lackluster, and the heart was non-existent. The team looked dead on their feet. The 2009 New York Mets appeared to have been reborn. Continue reading

Mets Need Luis Castillo to Step Up

Luis Castillo batting for the New York Mets on...
Image via Wikipedia

Some credited him with a quietly solid 2009 campaign, others couldn’t look past the memory of his dropped pop-up against the Yankees. Luis Castillo has seemingly been synonymous with Mets’ failure since arriving during the 2007 season. I for one can blame Castillo for keeping me up at night with nightmares of constant 6-3 put-outs. Regardless of his past with the team, and his nauseating contract, Castillo will return to the lineup with hopes of having a positive impact on the remainder of the 2010 Mets season.

As much as most fans despise Castillo for his aging knees, slap style of hitting, and depleting range at second base, the Mets will need him to make things happen for them if they hope to stay in contention.

Right now the bottom of the Mets lineup has gotten very little production. Jeff Francoeur wakes up every morning with an 0 and 2 count, Rod Barajas hasn’t driven in a run since the oil spill, and the tandem of Ruben Tejada and Alex Cora wasn’t exactly posing an offensive threat either.

Castillo’s return to the lineup will allow Cora to be relegated to the role of bench player where he belongs, and will send Ruben Tejada back to Buffalo where he belongs. In addition, Castillo can provide some maturity to the bottom of the Mets order, as long as Angel Pagan is in the lineup. He’ll be counted on to work counts (something Barajas and Francoeur are incapable of doing), get on base, and basically just ignite any kind of spark that he has left. Continue reading