Thursday, October 2, 2014

2014 New York Mets - Season Grades

The Mets did something different this year which gives me hope for next season. Instead of starting off strong and floundering to the end of the season, they actually floundered through much of the schedule and then got better towards the end of the season. In fact, the Mets were five games over .500 in September with a 15-10 record.

It also sounds great to be able to say that the Mets finished in second place, which they did. The truth, however, is that other than the Nationals the division was pretty weak. The Mets' 79-83 record was identical to that of their one time nemesis, the Atlanta Braves. Seeing the Phillies finish in last is also satisfying after years of abuse from Philly fans. Their dynasty sure fell apart real fast.

Despite all this, it was the 6th straight losing season for the Mets and the fans showed their frustration in the form of many, many, many empty seats. The rebuilding plan that Sandy Alderson spoke of is taking a lot longer than initially thought and it's time for the Mets to move forward and start winning. (With the Yankees sliding in to irrelevance, the Mets have the chance to win back the city....but will they capitalize on it?)

Here's a look at the grades for the 2014 New York Mets:

GM Sandy Alderson

Alderson talks a good game, but his moves this past off season were terrible. His free agent signings included Curtis Granderson who finished the season with a .227 batting average and 141 strikeouts. Even worse was the acquisition of outfielder Chris Young. Young was a .235 career hitter and somehow managed to hit even worse than that...he was designated for assignment in August with a measly .205 average.

Alderson made the right call on Lucas Duda over Ike Davis and the Mets' farm system looks like it's full of young players with lots of potential.

Overall Grade C

Manager Terry Collins

Collins appears to have the respect of the dugout, as well as the news media. Collins, however, can only do so much with the team that he's been given. Of course there were questionable decisions made at points throughout the season, but Collins has handled himself with class all season. It would be great to see how Collins would do if the Mets can start hitting.

Overall Grade B

Starting Pitchers

With Matt Harvey lost for the entire season, there were definite worries for the Mets' starting rotation. The Mets signed 41 year old Bartolo Colon and he was a work horse for the team. He threw 202 innings and picked up 15 wins on a team that had difficulty scoring runs.

Jon Niese, Zach Wheeler and Dillon Gee all had decent seasons and gave the Mets plenty of quality starts. The breakout star, however, was Jacob DeGrom. He began the season in Las Vegas and once called up, never left. He is almost certain to win Rookie of the Year after going 9-6 with a 2.69 ERA. He also had 144 strikeouts including 8 in a row versus the Marlins which tied a Major League Record set in 1986. DeGrom also proved that he could hit. He ended the season with a .217 average, which is 10 points higher than what Chris Young hit!!!

The Mets' pitching staff combined for a 3.49 ERA which was the 9th best out of all 30 MLB clubs. They were 8th in strikeouts with 1303.

Overall Grade B+


It's hard to believe that one of the Mets' strongest parts this season was the bullpen. After all those years of blown saves, Armando Benitez, blown saves, Aaron Heilman, blown saves, etc. etc. etc. the Mets' bullpen was solid.

After Bobby Parnell went down at the start of the season, the bullpen situation looked dire. Instead, a bunch of journeymen and no names combined to put up great numbers.
  • Josh Edgin 1.32
  • Buddy Carlyle 1.45
  • Jeurys Familia 2.21
  • Vic Black 2.60
  • Carlos Torres 3.06
  • Jenrry Mejia was given the closer role and flourished. He ended the season with 28 saves and 3.65 ERA
The Mets' bullpen combined for a 3.14 ERA which was the 8th best out of all 30 MLB clubs.

Overall Grade A-

First Base

I admit it, I was wrong. I blasted the Mets for trading Ike Davis and keeping Lucas Duda. Davis continued to stink with the Pirates, while Duda began to look like a legitimate power hitting first baseman. He still needs to work on increasing his batting average and hitting in clutch situations, but his 30 home runs and 92 RBI's were a bright spot in an otherwise pitiful offensive season.

Overall Grade B-

Second Base

Daniel Murphy began the season being ridiculed for skipping a few games to be with his wife who was having a baby. He got the last laugh as his actions led to him being invited to speak at the White House about parenting and he was the only member of the Mets to be chosen to play at the All Star Game.

Murphy was once again consistent at the plate and finished the season with a .289 average and 172 hits. If not for a spell on the disabled list, Murphy was on pace to reach 200 hits for the season. He had 9 homers, 37 doubles and 13 stolen bases. His only blemish was his team leading 15 errors.

Murphy is one of the most reliable bats in the Mets' batting order.

Overall Grade B


Ruben Tejada proved that the Mets made a mistake in not resigning Jose Reyes a few seasons back. Tejada was terrible at the plate with a .237 average and was jettisoned to the bench. He had a brief emergence in September where he hit .325 with 2 home runs.

Wilmer Flores was better at the plate hitting .251 with 6 home runs. 

Mets' shortstops combined for 13 errors.

Overall Grade D

Third Base

By his usual standards David Wright had a really bad season. He batted .269 with just 8 home runs and 63 RBI's. He also tied Murphy with 15 errors. Mets fans can't be too hard on Wright, however, as he's carried this team throughout most of his career. He was hurt most of the year and played through the pain before missing the last two months of the season.  Hopefully he'll rehab and get back to his usual numbers.

Overall Grade C

Left Field

A major weak spot for the Mets this season. The previously mentioned Chris Young stunk up the joint for half of the season while Eric Young and an assortment of bench players filled in the rest of the year. Eric Young did steal 30 bases, but his .229 average is not worthy of an every day role. This is a spot where the Mets need to get a player with power that can hit for average.

Overall Grade D

Center Field

Juan Lagares was another one of the bright spots for the Mets. His defense alone was top notch, but he also proved that he can handle himself at the plate. He hit .281 in 416 at bats and stole 13 bases. He also came through many times in the clutch. He showed flashes of power with 4 homers and 24 doubles. His season ended early through an injury. 

Lagares was platooned often early in the season, but hopefully will be given the chance to be the everyday center fielder next season. It'll be great to see what he can produce given the chance to play everyday.

Overall Grade B

Right Field

Curtis Granderson came to the Mets with a lot of fanfare. He was a slugger for the Tigers and the Yankees and the hope was that he would be a leader of the offense. While he did hit 20 homers, they seemed to come with no one on base. When the game was on the line, he usually struck out, which he did 141 times. There is a TON of room for improvement here.

Overall Grade C-


Travis d'Arnaud came to the Mets in the R.A. Dickey trade with Toronto. He came with a lot of expectations and talk of him being a future star. He had a rough season early on and was sent down to the minors hitting under the Mendoza line at .180. The demotion seemed to have an effect on d'Arnaud. After returning to the club he hit .272 with 10 home runs. In fact, over his last 30 games he was batting a robust .300. d'Arnaud also played through injury and just had surgery on his right elbow.

The fact that he improved so much after his demotion is a good sign that he may yet fulfill his promise. He should get that chance in 2015.

Overall Grade C

In the end, the 2014 Mets were lacking in run production. The team average of .239 was the third worst in all of baseball. They also need help with power as their 125 home runs ranked them 20th out of 30 MLB clubs.

If the Mets can fix their offensive problems and keep their pitchers healthy, the Mets may legitimately have a chance to challenge in 2015

In the end, the Mets won 5 more games in 2014 than they did in 2013 and appear to be heading in the right direction. Hopefully Sandy Alderson and the front office will give fans the opportunity to watch a winning team next season.

New York Mets Overall Team Season Grade C

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Arsenal 2014-2015 - October

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 2:45PM EST Arsenal vs. Galatasaray Champions League Match Day 2

The new month kicks off with Champions League play as Arsenal host Galatasary at the Emirates. Having lost on match day one away to Dortmund, it is pretty much a must win for the Gunners.

Despite sitting 4th in the table and still undefeated in the league, the negative supporters are out in force whining about the manager, the players and whatever else they can complain about. A solid victory would be a good way to shut these idiots up...especially with Chelsea looming on the horizon.

Wow, what a match. The Arsenal team that we saw tonight put on a master class in how to play the game. With speed up front in the form of Sanchez, Chamberlain and Welbeck, the Gunners dismantled Galatasaray. The onslaught began in the 22nd minute when Welbeck put the ball in the back of the net. He did it again eight minutes later for a 2-0 lead. Sanchez added a third before the half and it looked like Arsenal could run up the score.

Welbeck finished his hat trick in the 52nd minute and the Emirates was rocking. 

Play was stopped at one point as some Galatasary fans thought it would be a good idea to throw flares and missiles on to the pitch. It took Wesley Sneijder pleading with the fans to stop the interruptions.

Unfortunately,Wojciech Szczesny was reckless once again and was sent off for an unnecessary foul which led to a penalty and a red card. I've always been unconvinced by Szczesny and I'm hoping that this turns out to be a blessing in disguise as Ospina was forced in to action and did very well. I'd love to see Ospina as the number one goalkeeper.

Arsenal defended their lead and the match finished 4-1. In addition to Welbeck and Sanchez, great perormances were put in by the Ox, Chambers, Gibbs, Kos and Cazorla. Hopefully Arsenal can carry this momentum and some confidence in to this weekend's match versus Chelsea.

Sunday, October 4, 2014 9AM EST Arsenal at Chelsea

Fear, trepidation, anxiety....these are just a few of the emotions that Arsenal fans are feeling today as we head to Chelsea. Stamford Bridge was the location of Arsenal's biggest humiliation last season, a 6-0 thrashing. Add to that the fact that Chelsea have looked unstoppable so far this season and that they are lead by the annoying, arrogant and pompous Jose Mourinho and it's an encounter that gives most Arsenal fans nightmares. Of course there's hope that Arsenal can hold their own against Chelsea and can actually win. Just like those days when Arsenal always had Chelsea's number back in those Claudio Ranieri days. Here's hoping.

The times have changed. When I first started following Arsenal, we always had Chelsea's number. No matter what, Arsenal always came out on top. Unfortunately, it appears to be the other way around this time.

The fact that a positive from the match is that we didn't get hammered 6-0 like last season is a sad statement. Feeling good that we lost by a respectable 2-0 margin is also a sad state of affairs. 

In what seems to be happening way too often, Arsenal had 53% of the possession and out shot Chelsea 10-5. In the past Arsenal would dominate possession and shots and win. Now it seems to be the opposite. It's obvious that Arsenal's defense is not strong enough (bring back Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn and Lee Dixon). We also need a beast in midfield a la Patrick Vieira.

The highlight of the match for Arsenal fans was Arsene Wenger pushing the "egotistical one" Jose Mourinho as the managers got in to a verbal spat.

Saturday, October 18, 2014 Arsenal vs. Hull 10AM EST

The first match in two weeks after an international break. Having gone in to the break with a painful 2-0 defeat at Chelsea, a visit by Hull should be just what Arsenal need. Arsenal's next run of games are all winnable so let's hope that today is the start of a good run.

The two week break didn't seem to do any good for Arsenal. Most fans and pundits expected Arsenal to roll to victory over Hull at home. Instead, it was another frustrating Arsenal performance where the team looked sluggish and uninspired.

It all started rather well as Alexis Sanchez's 13th minute goal gave Arsenal an early 1-0 lead. Unfortunately, it went downhill from there.

Within four minutes Mohaned Diame fouled Mathieu Flamini as he ran in to the box. For whatever reason, the ref didn't seem to see anything wrong and allowed the play to continue. Of course Diame scored and Hull were level on a goal that should not have been allowed to be taken in the first place.

The rest of the match was typical Arsenal frustration. Within one minute of the second half, Hull's Abel Hern
andez was able to get by the Arsenal defense and score a header to give Hull the lead.

Arsenal dominated the play with 66% of the possession, 25 shots on goal to Hull's 4 and 10 corners to Hull's 0. Despite these overwhelming statistics, Arsenal had to fight until the 90th minute to salvage a point. Danny Welbeck scored in stoppage time and Arsenal kept pushing with 6 extra minutes on the clock. Unfortunately, a winner was not on the cards and Arsenal had to settle for yet another draw....their 5th draw in 8 matches. 

The frustration continues.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 Arsenal at Anderlecht 2:45PM EST Champions League Group Match 3

There's a nervous air around Arsenal fans these days as the team has not looked sharp and list of players out injured seems to be growing day by day. With Sczesny banned, I was very excited to see David Ospina get a start (and hopefully displace the unreliable Scezsny). Unfortunately he joined the list of injured players and Arsenal are left fielding their relative unknown third choice goalkeeper Damian Martinez.

In terms of conidence, this game is a must win. In fact, it's a must win by a comfortable margin game. The real Arsenal need to show up and get the season back on track.

On the positive side, Liverpool are hosting Real Madrid tonight, so there is a lot less attention being paid to the Arsenal at Anderlecht match.

It's Wenger's birthday so let's hope the boss gets a birthday victory.

This was one of the most pathetic, deplorable and embarrassing Arsenal performances in recent memory...yet somehow, they won. There are no words to describe the change in emotion for fans. In the 88th minute I was disgusted, depressed and furious as an embarrassing defeat was in the cards.2 minutes later, joy and shock as an ugly defeat became a lucky victory. Considering how often Arsenal play great and lose, an ugly win might be just what this team needed.

Despite the win, Arsenal's overall play was HORRIBLE. The passing stunk, the defense was weak and the shot taking was non existent. Cazorla, Wilshere and Ramsey are all great players, but collectively they were all atrocious today. The only guy that was a standout for the entire match was the amazing Alexis Sanchez.

Dortmund lead the group by 3 points after 3 matches. Arsenal are really going to have to pull it together to top Group D. Onward and upward! 

Saturday, October 25, 2014 10AM EST Arsenal at Sunderland

After winning ugly at Anderlecht in mid week, Arsenal travel up north to meet a team that lost ugly last week. Sunderland were humiliated by Southampton 8-0 last time out and hopefully Arsenal can inflict some more pain on Sunderland. 

To say it's imperative that Arsenal truly show up and put in a solid performance would not be an overstatement. With just 11 points in 8 matches, Arsenal need to truly get their season going and start playing at the level that they are capable of. Sunderland should be easy pickings for the Gunners...but as we've seen so far this season, nothing is coming easy for this team yet.