Monday, August 18, 2014

The Mets Finally Have Great Pitching...But They Can't Hit

It's always something with the Mets. It's been 8 years and counting since the Mets made the playoffs and to say that fans have been patient is an understatement. That's what makes this current season so frustrating. 

The days of Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, Aaron Heilman, Armando Benitez, etc. are long gone. In their place are Jacob DeGrom, Zach Wheeler, Dillon Gee, Jeurys Familia and an assortment of reliable arms out of the bullpen. This current Mets pitching staff has been solid. In fact Mets pitchers are among the best in Major League Baseball. Mets starters are pitching to a 3.68 ERA which ranks them 11th out of 30 teams. The relievers are even better; with a 3.27 staff ERA and a 9th place ranking out of all 30 MLB clubs.

DeGrom has been great, but the offense has let him down
With this pitching staff, the Mets should be challenging for the playoffs. Unfortunately, this pitching staff is being let down on a daily basis by a Mets team that has the second worst batting average in baseball. Yes, the Mets are ranked 29th out of 30 clubs with a measly .235 batting average. Only the woeful Padres are worse with a .226 team average.

Sandy Alderson has been "building" this team for a number of years now and unfortunately he is failing. The Mets could have had a lineup that included Carlos Gomez, Angel Pagan and Jose Reyes but instead have been fielding sub par players such as Chris Young, Ruben Tejada and sadly Curtis Granderson. 

The only players that get a pass are Daniel Murphy (a solid and consistent hitter with a .297 average), David Wright (having an off season at .270 but is surrounded by weak hitters) and Juan Lagares who is hitting .272 and playing an amazing center field.

As for the rest, the stats don't lie:

  • Lucas Duda .255 average and 97 strikeouts. Duda does have 22 home runs, but with 66 RBI's it's obvious that he's hitting these long balls when no one is on base and not driving in runs as a true power hitter should.
  • Ruben Tejada .229 average. It's time to face the facts, he's  not good enough and the Mets need a shortstop that can spark the offense.
  • Travis d'Arnaud .227 average. d'Arnaud came with big expectations which he has yet to live up to.
  • Curtis Granderson .221 average with 113 strikeouts. He has 15 long balls, but like Duda, his RBI total is a very low 47. Funny how he had no problem  hitting when he was with the Yankees.
  • Eric Young, Jr. .227 average. Nice guy, not a good hitter.
  • Chris Young .205. The Mets' "big" off season acquisition who has since been released. Only the Mets could make a big deal out of signing a career .235 hitter & then see the player hit 30 points below his lifetime average.
It's come to the point that if the Mets pitching staff gives up more than 1 run, it's likely going to result in a loss. So many wonderful pitching performances have been wasted this year by this sad lineup.

Here's even further proof:

The Mets have played 126 games so far this season. In 49% of the clubs' games, the team has scored 3 or less runs. 
  • The Mets have been shutout 11 times
  • The Mets have scored just 1 run 16 times
  • The Mets have scored just 2 runs 18 times
  • The Mets have scored just 3 runs 17 times
How the Mets can expect fans to shell out their hard earned money to watch the Mets not score and lose on a daily basis is beyond me. 

Mets fans are loyal and patient, but enough is enough. Yet again it's time to say "wait until next year".

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Arsenal are Back: 2014-2015 Season - August

It's back...yes folks the 2014 FA Cup Champions, Arsenal are back to business and it all kicks off at Wembley with the Community Shield versus the oil barons & mercenaries of Manchester City.

Last year at this time the Wenger Out brigade was voicing its anger at the lack of new signings. This year, Arsene Wenger has done some great early business and brought in a super star in the making with Alexis Sanchez and new defensive strength in Calum Chambers and Mathieu Debuchy. There's still time left in the window for Wenger to make additional moves, but he's already receiving kudos for his dealings.

So without further, ado, let's go out and beat Manchester City!

Sunday, August 10, 2014 10AM EST Arsenal vs. Manchester City at Wembley - Community Shield

Well that was something to see. Arsenal thoroughly outplayed Man City throughout the entire match and won comfortably 3-0. Wembley was a sea of red and at times it seemed as if it was an Arsenal home game.

Boos rang out every time Na$ri touched the ball and he was substituted after the first half.

Meanwhile Arsenal seemed to have no problem moving the ball through the City defense.  Santi Cazorla broke the deadlock in the 21st minute and who else but Aaron Ramsey, added a second before half time.

Giroud sealed the deal with a superb strike in the 60th minute.

Of course the pundits were saying Man City were without their regular players, the Community Shield is just a friendly, etc. etc. The reality is that Arsenal were without a number of key players as well and every time ManU, Chelsea or City had won the Community Shield over the past few years, it was a trophy.

2 trophies within 3 months and there's a good feeling around Arsenal going in to the new season.

Saturday,  August 16, 2014 Arsenal vs. Crystal Palace 12:30PM EST

The Emirates was packed as Arsenal began the 2014-2015 season by welcoming Crystal Palace to North London. I had been to this corresponding fixture last season and remember the Palace fans being amazing. Even after they lost 2-0, they were still singing.

With Crystal Palace losing their manager 2 days before the start of the season (last season's EPL Manager of the Year Tony Pulis left the club by "mutual consent") Palace arrived at the Emirates in a bit of dissaray. On paper, this looked like it should be an easy victory.

 This was not the easy match that everyone predicted. In fact it was extremely nerve wracking, frustrating and in the end successful.

Arsenal had most of the ball, but were unable to break through a tough Palace defense. You could sense the frustration beginning to build after about 30 minutes of scoreless football.

Wojciech Szczesny was at fault for the first goal. Like the guy, but at times his decision making is poor. Hopefully Ospina was watching as he may get his chance soon after this latest Szczesny mistake.

Instead of letting his defenders clear a ball in the Arsenal end, Szczesny came out of his goal to kick the ball away, unfortunately he didn't succeed. He was saved when Laurent Koscielny got to the ball and cleared it, but in doing so he was forced to give up a corner. Of course Palace scored on the corner and Arsenal were down 0-1 in the 30th minute.

This has been a reoccurring theme over the past few years, but Arsenal usually come back and win these type of matches.

Arsenal returned the favor when Koscielny headed home from an Alexis Sanchez free kick. The mood was lifted and the half ended 1-1.

The second half was as frustrating as can be. They certainly tried, but Arsenal were unable to get many good goal scoring opportunities. Then in stoppage time, Giroud headed the ball across the goal and Debuchy looked certain to score, but his effort was saved by Julian Speroni. Ramsey slotted home from the rebound and the victory was secure. Final score 2-1 to the Arsenal.

On an enjoyable side note, Manchester United started the season as they had finished it. The media had been hyping Luis Van Gaal like he was the second coming and some of the pundits have even predicted ManU to finish above Arsenal. Based on their opening day 1-2 home loss to Swansea, it seems that Van Gaal and his magic wand have not transformed this weak ManU side in to world beaters.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 2:45PM EST Arsenal at Besitkas Champions League Qualifier

I was listening to TalkSport earlier today and that idiotic Arsenal hater Adrian Durham was asking if Arsenal should be embarrassed that they have made it in to the Champions League Group Stages for 17 straight seasons without having won it. Only a hater such as he could take an amazing accomplishment and twist it to be a negative. I wouldn't waste my time responding, but the answer is that it is an impressive record and while all fans and the club want to win the tournament, Durham seems to forget that every club's chances are 1 out of 32. Plus he seems to conveniently forget Arsenal's appearance in the 2006 final which they narrowly lost to Barcelona. Ok, enough venting.

Today's task is to leave Istanbul with a comfortable lead in our 2 leg Champions League qualifier.

This was such a frustrating match. The pitch was horrible, the crowd was obnoxious and the ref was pretty bad.  Outside of Demba Ba, Besitkas offered very little, but they were on the Arsenal players like flies to do poop. Giroud had a number of chances to be a hero but didn't come through and the Ox made a sensational run through the defense and fired a shot that bounced off of the cross bar. Aaron Ramsey was given two soft yellow cards and thus was sent off withh 10 minutes left. In the end it was 0-0 and the match will have to be won back in London.

 Saturday, August 23, 2014 12:30PM EST Arsenal at Everton

With the transfer window rumors in overdrive, Arsenal head to Everton for a tough road fixture. As all Arsenal fans remember from late last season, Everton humiliated us 3-0 in this corresponding match. Arsenal will be looking for revenge and the opportunity to prove that they are true title contenders.

As for the silly period, if you read the English press, Arsenal have been linked with any and all of the following: Edinson Cavani, Sami Khedira, William Carvalho, Victor Wanyama, Chiek Tiote, Lars Bender, Kostas Manolas, Alex Song, Marco Reus, Danny Welbeck and half of the country of Uruguay. It really is ridiculous and in this digital age anyone can start a false rumor and then watch it spread. I suppose the best thing to do is wait until September 1st and see who's wearing an Arsenal jersey on that day. It's a lot easier than waiting around with false hope.

This is another one of those matches that can be looked at in one of two ways. For the glass half full crowd, Arsenal fought back from a two goal deficit away to Everton and left with a draw rather than a loss.

To the glass is half empty crowd, Arsenal went down by two goals and were able to rescue a point in a game that they didn't play particularly well in.

The first half was all Everton and Arsenal went in to the half down by 2.

Giroud started the second half and was a spark plug in Arsenal's attack. First Ramsey scored off of a Santi Cazorla cross in the 83rd moment and Giroud scored the equalizer in the final minutes of play.

Unfortunately after the match it was revealed that Giroud had broken his leg and will be out for four months.

August 27, 2014 2:45PM EST Arsenal vs. Besitkas Champions League Qualifier Leg 2

After a 0-0 draw in Istanbul this is a must win match for Arsenal in order to progress to the Champions League group stages for the 17th straight season. A loss would be a major disaster and Europa League action would be the outcome.

This was a tough one and there were many nervous moments throughout the match. As it turned out, Alexis Sanchez made his first Arsenal goal a memorable one as his 45th minute strike was the difference in the game. Arsenal held on and played the last 15 minutes with 10 men as Mathieu Debuchy was sent off for a second foul. In the end, Arsenal are through and the Group Stages of the Champions League awaits.

Thursday, August 28, 2014 11:45AM Champions League Draw


Various News of the Week

August 31, 2014 11AM EST Arsenal at Leicester

A visit to newly promoted Leicester early in the season looked like a no brainer for Arsenal. Most fans figured this would be an easy win and that the Arsenal offense would flow. Yaya Sanogo was given the start up front and it was time for the player to show why Wenger has put so much faith in to him.

In the end it was a rather disappointing match by Arsenal standards. Yaya Sanogo proved that he really isn't the answer to Arsenal's striker needs and fans are calling for the manager to sign a striker before the transfer window closes.

Sanchez scored for Arsenal in the 20th minute but that lead lasted just two minutes. Then it was the same old story for Arsenal....tons of possession but no finished product. Despite 68% of the ball and 24 shots to Leicester's 9, the match ended in a 1-1 draw. 

Deadline Day