Thursday, June 30, 2016

N.Y. Mets: Look What Daniel Murphy Did to the Amazin's, Again

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET



NEW YORK METS: Daniel Murphy continues pounding away at former team with breakout season Flushing faithful waited eight years for.

Through nine games now, Murphy's Law has come crashing down upon the Mets.

Daniel Murphy is now 15 for 35, for a .428 average against his former team this season, with 4 home runs and 11 RBI.

Murphy went deep twice Wednesday night, once into the second deck in right at Nationals Field, helping Washington cap off a three game sweep of the fading Mets.

In fact, Murphy tied his career high with his 14th home run, while still yet reaching the mid point of his first season playing for the Nationals.  And with 53 RBI to date, Murph is only 23 more away from tying that high as well, previously set during the 2013 season.

The Mets have now fallen to just three games above .500, while their 40-37 record puts them six games back of the first place Nationals, the most they've trailed Washington this season.  They even find themselves 1.5 games behind the Miami Marlins.

In fact, last year the Mets were 40-37 on Sunday June 28, entering a three game series against the Chicago Cubs.  This year, the Mets have the exact same record entering Thursday's series opener against the same Central Division leading Cubs.

Murphy's Law ... Einstein's definition of insanity ... you tell me.

BONUS

Here's my latest for 

Including updates on Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith


Mike
senior staff writer/Rising Apple

L.I. Ducks: Look Who's Number One ... Again

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE



Ducks Lead Series 2-1
I - YRK 8; LID 4
II - LID 3; YRK 1
III - LID 8; YRK 5
IV - THURSDAY

LONG ISLAND DUCKS: It's not how you start, it's how you finish ... just ask the Patriots.

The Ducks have swam these waters before, and each time handed first place back to the Somerset Patriots.  The trick now is to stay in first before the first half expires in short time.

On Wednesday, Long Island won their second straight over the visiting York Revolution, building an 8-2 lead through eight innings until the Revolution made them sweat out an 8-5 final after the ninth.

Starter Bruce Kern followed Darin Downs' Tuesday gem with a fine performance of his own, limiting the Revs to a pair of runs on seven hits and no walks, with five strikeouts though seven full innings of work.  He faced 30 batters, and threw 93 pitches with 67 (72%) going for strikes.  Kern now boasts a 1.98 ERA with 45 strikeouts over 45.1 innings this season.

Fehlandt Lentini, the league's 3rd leading hitter, paved the way going 3 for 4 with a 3-RBI triple, and four RBI overall.  Catcher Mike Dowd was 2 for 4 with a pair of RBI.

LIBERTY DIVISION
Ducks       37-29
Patriots    36-30

Coupled with Somerset's 8-7 loss against the New Britain Bees, the Ducks now own a full game lead over the Patriots in the Liberty Division standings.

Somerset has lost seven of their last ten games.  They have gone 23-30 since jumping out to a 13-0 start.

The Ducks and Revolution will resume hostilities in Thursday's series finale.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

L.I. Ducks: Darin Downs' gem repels York Revolution

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE



Series tied 1-1
I - YRK 8; LID 4
II- LID 3; YRK 1

LONG ISLAND DUCKS: Darin Downs halts Revolution, while Mother Nature bogs down Patriots.

Long Island starter Darin Downs hurled his team back in the win column after Monday's series opening loss against the Revs, but more importantly helped the Ducks close to within a half-game of (rain-delayed) Somerset Patriots.

Tuesday's 3-1 victory was only the Ducks second over the Revs this season, against six losses versus the Freedom Division leaders.  Winning the day was nevertheless a temporary reprieve from York's season long dominance.

Back-to-back 2-out doubles in the first inning gave the Revs an early 1-0 lead.  Downs then shut York down through the next six innings.  All told, Darin allowed one lone run on just three hits and no walks, with 10 strikeouts.  He faced just 23 batters, and threw 100 pitches with 67 going for strikes.

Downs improved to 5-4 this season with a 4.21 ERA (down from 4.50), and likewise reduced his WHiP from 1.330 to a 1.250 mark.  He's allowed 74 hits and fanned 83 batters in 77 innings pitched.

Todd Coffey pitched a scoreless ninth, registering his 11th save of the season.

First baseman Mike Blanke and catcher Mike Dowd each stroked clutch 2-out hits with runners in scoring position in the bottom of the second.  York gifted the Ducks an insurance run in the eighth when Dan Lyons scored from third base on a wild pitch.

LIBERTY DIVISION
Patriots   36-28
Ducks      36-29

The game in Somerset between the Patriots and New Britain was halted in the sixth inning due to rain.  The Bees held a 3-0 lead at the time, while southpaw starter Josh Outman had the Patriots limited to just one hit through 5.1 innings of work.

L.I. Ducks: Look What the Revs Did to the Flock ... Again

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE



No Quarter.
York Leads Season Series 
6-1

LONG ISLAND DUCKS: No Counter-Revolution at Bethpage Ballpark; First Half Winding Down With a Whimper.

Losing Streak Hits Five

Despite Somerset's best efforts to hand Long Island the division lead, the Ducks refused to bite.

Instead, the Flock's 13-13 record in June is a direct reflection of being an absurdly streaky team.  And as the first half winds down, that trait has cost them dearly.

If you remember, the Ducks opened the month getting swept by the Barnstomers in Lancaster.

They redeemed themselves shortly thereafter with a sweep over the New Britain Bees, but then blew a huge opportunity to overtake the Patriots by dropping a double-header to Lancaster, again, on June 16th.

Then came last week's series in York, in which the Ducks got plucked in a three game sweep, getting outscored by a 17-6 margin.

There's something to be said for resiliency, though.  The Ducks rebounded once again, sweeping four games from the Bluefish at Harbor Yard before returning home to host the Revs Monday night - albeit unsuccessfully.

Monday's 8-4 victory improved the Revs record to 6-1 this season against Long Island.

In his fourth attempt to set the Ducks all-time wins record, Brownell allowed three earned runs on eight hits and a walk, with six strikeouts over pitched 6.2 innings pitched, but walked away with a no-decision.

The Ducks have ponderously fallen a game under .500 with a 34-35 record, and still trail the Somerset Patriots with just six games left before the season reaches the game #70 mark.  <<< yeah about that, I was looking at last year's record during that moment.  Thank the Corona Bewing Co.

See Tuesday's influence free update.

Monday, June 27, 2016

N.Y. Mets: Reemergence of Josh Edgin could make club rethink Antonio Bastardo

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET



The weakest link in the Mets bullpen chain snapped 
in 5-2 loss against the last place Braves Sunday afternoon in Atlanta.

NEW YORK METS: Someone please stop Antonio Bastardo before he causes any more damage..

Sunday in Atlanta, Roosevelt Avenue urban legend Bartolo Colon lowered his ERA to a heroic 2.86 mark after limiting the Braves to a run on six hits and a walk over seven innings pitched, with two strikeouts, yet exited the game on the losing side of a then 1-0 game.

At the very least, the afternoon perfectly demonstrated how an amazingly anemic offense through May and June has exacted a measurable toll on the Mets starting pitching, and the team's overall division standing.

It's a condition which in turn revealed the bullpen as the main reason why the Mets remained above .500 through Spring, and why they still find themselves within reach of first place today.

But how much longer can this last?

In a typical baseball year, the bullpen is most usually a team's major point of contention.  Yet, despite numerous injuries affecting the Mets active roster this season, their pen has generally remained surprisingly healthy, and indeed emerged to become the team strength.

Only recently, did Jim Henderson become the first real casualty to speak of.  Otherwise, the other main members of the relief corp - Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed, Hansel Robles, Jerry Blevins, and Antonio Bastardo - have been available throughout.

Jeurys Familia, in particular, has been perfect.  The closer nailed down his 26th consecutive save in 26 save opportunities Saturday night in Atlanta, thus setting the Mets all-time record previously held by Armando Benitez.

Next in, Jerry Blevins has undoubtedly been among the Mets most effective relievers this season, along with Addison Reed and Hansel Robles.

The aforementioned relievers all took their turn having a one bad month out of three, but otherwise performed well for at least two - all except for Henderson and Bastardo, that is.

The Mets were taking a known gamble with Jim Henderson, who previously underwent right shoulder surgery in 2014, and spent all of 2015 rehabbing.  After posting a 1.08 ERA in April, his campaign turned for the worse, again, when ultimately he was determined to be suffering an impingement in his right shoulder.  Henderson was placed on the disabled list earlier this week, and replaced on the roster with lefty Sean Gilmartin.

Antonio Bastardo, however, has no such excuse.  He's is a 30 year old, eight year major league veteran who previously enjoyed personal success with the Phillies and Pirates.  His velocity is still on par with previous seasons, but the 2016 season has so far easily been his worst. Antonio is teetering near career highs in ERA, FIP, WHIP, W/9 average, H/9 average, and near career low levels in K/9 average, and K/W ratio.

After posting a 2.61 ERA in April, Bastardo registered a 5.73 ERA in May and presently owns a 5.40 ERA in June, for a bullpen topping overall 5.46 ERA.  Based on his performance alone, it would appear Antonio Bastardo is most responsible for the Mets swollen bullpen ERA since April, barring anyone named Henderson, that is.

APRIL/N.L.
  • Team Slugging 4th
  • Runs Scored - 7th
  • Bullpen ERA - 2.52
MAY/N.L.
  • Team Slugging - 11th
  • Runs Scored - 13th
  • Bullpen ERA - 3.70
JUNE/N.L.
  • Team Slugging - 13th
  • Runs Scored - 15th
  • Bullpen ERA - 3.24

In 1.2 innings covering his last three appearances, Bastardo allowed five earned runs on five hits and one walk, with one strikeout, one HBP, and a balk to boot.  The latter happened during Sunday's meltdown, in which Antonio failed to retire a batter in relief of Bartolo Colon in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Braves.

After surrendering a lead-off infield single to Ender Inciarte, Antonio mindlessly balked him over to second with a fake throw to first - of all things.  Bastardo then walked Freddie Freeman.  Having clearly lost his bearing, Antonio ignored shouts, and ponderously allowed Inciarte to freely wander far off second base, and easily steal third.  Naturally, Ender Inciate then scored on Nick Markakis' single, putting an end to Bastardo's day, and giving the Braves a 2-0 lead en route to an eventual 5-2 Atlanta victory.

His acquisition was originally hailed as a savvy move.  Three months into this, though, he's done everything to strain the patience of all concerned.  Now, his ineffectiveness, and his contract, have unfortunately created a problem, that could, and should be rectified, but can't.

Or can it?

There might come a time in the near future (before the trade deadline) when the Mets should revisit their contractual obligation to Antonio Bastardo by either trading him, or eating the money and releasing him.  He is due the balance of this year's $6 million salary, and another $6 million next year.

It's worth considering for several reasons, chief among them is Josh Edgin.

Unlike Zack Wheeler, Josh Edgin's comeback efforts have gone more smoothly.  Wheeler was expected to rejoin the Mets perhaps by July but unfortunately suffered a setback during his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery.  Edgin, meanwhile, has so far registered 25 combined and unhindered appearances with Port St. Lucie, but primarily for the Las Vegas 51s.

Edgin last featured a 93 mph fastball, and 85 mph slider and change-up in 2014 for the Mets.  After missing all of 2015, the southpaw so far has made 19 appearances for Las Vegas, where he presently owns a 1.93 ERA over 14 innings pitched, with 14 hits and 6 walks allowed, 18 strikeouts, a 1.286 WHiP, and an 11.6 K/9 average.

Why wouldn't his reemergence benefit the Mets, and maybe even force the front office's hand with regards to Antonio Bastardo?  The Mets have played 73 games to date, putting the midway point of the season just eight more games away.  So heading into the July non-waiver trade deadline, the idea is to take stock and formulate a plan for improving the team.  In fact, Mets COO, Jeff Wilpon, voiced a willingness to do just that.

There are many ways in which to win championships, National League or otherwise.  Throughout recent modern history, I've witnessed how bullpens can carry teams deep into post-season play, and even secure titles.  If the Mets can't slug their way to another National League pennant, as originally designed, then the bullpen scenario could very well become the Mets only recourse.

In Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed, Bobby Blevins, and young Hansel Robles, the Mets just might have the four horsemen to pull this off yet.  But they'll need help.  Assuming they remain healthy, the key for Sandy Alderson will lie in assembling a final group for the home stretch.

His options at Las Vegas are truly limited.  To begin with, the 51s are second to last in the Pacific Coast League with a 5.36 team ERA.

Logan Verrett, Erik Goeddel, perhaps Rafael Montero, and maybe even a fresh face in Vegas prospect Paul Sewald are left competing for one last right-handed spot.

Meanwhile, the Mets were already dealing with limited resources from the left side to begin with.  After Bastardo and Jerry Blevins, they retained Sean Gilmartin at Las Vegas in reserve, who has since been called up for active duty.   Otherwise, Josh Edgin represents a fourth known, and viable left-hander at the Mets disposal.   Beyond him, the Mets would be delving into the likes of Dario Alvarez.

Sandy Alderson, therefore, has an age old dilemma on his hands.  Does he address known deficiencies, or further bolster a team strength?  The acquisition of Jose Reyes just may have made that decision much easier to make.  I would suggest, then, Sandy Alderson make an aggressive search for quality relief pitching between now and the July trade deadline.  What they lack in offense, they can make up for by shortening games into proverbial six inning affairs.

In the meantime, if I were allowed to hit the delete button and reorganize the bullpen, Antonio would not make my top seven:
  • Closer - Jeurys Familia
  • RHP - Addison Reed
  • RHP - Hansel Robles
  • RHP - Logan Verrett (Jim Henderson)
  • LHP - Jerry Blevins
  • LHP - Sean Gilmartin
  • LHP - Josh Edgin
It's doubtful Bastardo would ever agree to a minor league demotion, therefore Sandy Alderson's options are limited, but clear.

This has fast become a situation where addition by subtraction would seemingly benefit the Mets.

Then again, I could be wrong.  But I doubt it.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

N.Y. Mets: Jose, Jose, Jose, is in the House

From the desks of:  
HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET  and  THE SURF AVENUE SLUGGERS



But will he be welcomed with open arms..?

Say hello to the bad guy ~ Scarface

New York Mets reunite with Jose Reyes, who'll commence his comeback with the Brooklyn Cyclones.

Jose ... Jose ... Jose ... is back!

But not after serving a 51 game suspension stemming from his arrest for a domestic violence incident dating back to October 2015 in Hawaii involving his wife.

Reyes was preparing for an eventual return, recently working out in the Colorado Rockies minor leagues when the organization elected instead to designate him for assignment.

He easily cleared waivers this week and agreed to a minor league contract with the Mets shortly thereafter.

Now 33 years old, Reyes is still owed more than $40 million dollars per his original contract signed with the Miami Marlins, of which, the Rockies remain responsible for the balance.  The Mets get him for the MLB minimum.

Baseball aside, the incident in Hawaii did in fact happen.  His wife, however, was uncooperative during the investigation and so charges against Reyes were dropped.

But that doesn't make it right.  I'm the first to say all is fair when it come to Love and War.  Couples fight.  It's what they do.  And sometimes tempers escalate and things get ugly.  A man who brings or causes physical violence upon a woman, though, goes too far, and quite frankly, beyond civility.

As we move forward, whatever verdict the court of New York City public opinion levies against him is okay with me.  I'll root for him, with the hopes he can actually help the Mets, but I will not defend him, stick up for him, or go out on a moral limb for him.  If I'm at the game, I'll side on mindful ambivalence and defer particularly to women sitting in my presence.

Reuniting with the Mets, however, was a natural.  As Sandy Alderson implied, this organization was indeed his extended family.  And so the embattled major leaguer gets his chance at resuming his career in the same place it started.

First, he'll need to spend time getting into game shape playing for the Brooklyn Cyclones.

Jose Reyes will also learn how to play new positions, namely, third base, and some outfield.

Whatever speed Jose Reyes can add to the Mets would be a major improvement, as the team is last in the National League in stolen bases.  The Mets station to station offense has been ponderously inept for the better part of two months now.  At least Reyes represents a player who can actually make it from first to third on a hit.

MCU Park should be a mad house Sunday.  I'm expecting the media to descend upon Coney Island like locusts.

I plan to be there.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Brooklyn Cyclones: No Week for the Weary

From the desk of:  THE SURF AVENUE SLUGGERS



Extra-Long Opening Week for the Brooks

BROOKLYN CYCLONES: Something eerily similar about these guys...

A year after posting their first ever losing season, the Brooklyn Cyclones have gotten off to a 2-5 start through the first week of this season, and presently own last place of the McNamara Division to themselves.

The Cyclones pitching staff was levied with an onerous tax through the first games of the season, having to put in double-time for 56 innings over four games in four days.

Game One Final
Brooklyn        2
Connecticut    3

The Cyclones lost their series opener 3-2 in Connecticut Thursday night to open their first official road trip of the season, despite limiting the Tigers to just a pair of hits for the game.

Harol Gonzalez pitched well in his second start of the season, and perhaps better than his line looks:
  • 6.2 inn, three ER, three W, five K, 86 pitches with 55 going for strikes, and two HBP.
He lost control of a quality start in the sixth; a one-out walk, a HBP, and a wild pitch resulted in a 1-0 Cyclones deficit from which they never recovered.  Another HBP, a single, and another wild pitch in the seventh earned Gonzalez the hook from Coach Gamboa after 86 pitches.

Harol Gonzalez otherwise no-hit the Tigers through the first six innings.  Reliever Taylor Henry allowed Connecticut their only other hit of the game.

The heart of the Cyclones line-up; #3 hitter Colby Woodmansee, clean-up hitter Ali Sanchez, and #5 hitter Brandon Brosher all registered multiple hits, combining on 6 for 12, with 2 RBI and a run scored.  Jay Jabs drove in his 4th run of the season.

Offensive Behavior

Collectively, the Brooklyn Cyclones are last in the league with a paltry .166 team average - exactly why they ponderously needed 20 extra innings of baseball for determining three of their first seven games.

Memories of last year indeed ... in fact, the Cyclones have been all pitch/no hit for three seasons now.

This season, Cyclones rank:

  • 14th in Batting
  • 13th in OBP
  • 14th Slugging
  • 7th Runs
  • 13th Hits
  • 11th Total Bases
  • 5th Walks 
  • 3rd Most Strikeouts

Thing is, they haven't been as good on the mound when compared to previous seasons.  A week into the season, Brooklyn's team ERA ranks 10th best, and only ninth best in team WHIP.  A league leading 80 strikeouts, however, is more in line with what we've grown accustomed to around here.

Distribution of Company Assets

After spending a few days in Brooklyn, pitcher Adrian Almeida, and infielders Franklin Correra, Yeffry De Aza, and Santo Marte, have all reported to (R) Kingsport - Appalachian League season opened on June 23.

Top Ten June Draft Picks: #6 Chris Viall, # 9 Colin Holderman, and #8 Placido Torres, have all reported to Kingsport.

REMAINING TOP 10 UNSIGNED DRAFT PICKS:

  • LHP Anthony Kay 1st round
  • 1B Peter Alonso 2nd round
  • SS Michael Paez 4th round


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Brooklyn Cyclones: Justin Dunn Has Entered the Building

From the desk of:  THE CONEY ISLAND NINE



Justin Dunn preparing for professional debut in Brooklyn

BROOKLYN CYCLONES: Mets Sign First Round Draft Pick, Justin Dunn; Next Stop, Coney Island.

The New York Mets and first round draft pick Justin Dunn agreed to a $2.38 million signing bonus Tuesday.  Dunn, 20, is now on his way to come ply his talents here at MCU Park.

A local talent hailing out of Freeport, Long Island, listed at 6'2" and 185 pounds, Dunn was selected #19 overall by the Mets as a junior out of Boston College.  In fact, he tied for the highest RHP pitcher selected in BC history.

He features a mid 90s fastball, a good off-speed curve, hard slider, and an effective change-up to boot.

Dunn was utilized in relief earlier this year, racking up 17 strikeouts with only 3 walks in 9 appearances.  By April, Justin was inserted into the starting rotation and finished out the season totaling eight starts.

Among them - in the days leading into the 2016 amateur draft - Dunn threw seven innings versus Tulane on June 3, in which he allowed 2 earned runs on 5 hits and one walk, and fanned 11 batters.   In his start previous to that, Dunn threw a complete game against Georgia Tech, allowing 2 earned runs on 7 hits, with 9 strikeouts.

In 17 overall appearances, Dunn posted a 4-2 record, with 2 saves and a 2.06 ERA this season, while allowing 52 hits and 18 walks, with 72 strikeouts over 65.2 innings pitched.

Overall, he posted a 9-6 record and 3.45 ERA during three year career at Boston College.  In 120+ innings pitched, Dunn allowed 110 hits but only 25 went for extra bases.  He otherwise allowed 46 earned runs, 48 walks, and fanned 124 batters, while limiting the opposition to a .247 average against.

The Cyclones are still waiting on fellow first round draft pick (#31 overall) LHP Anthony Kay, who has yet to reach an agreement with the Mets.

S.I. Yankees: Name Change Game Shame

From the desk of: The Team Formerly Known as the Staten Island Yankees




Rebranding?

Within the grand scheme of minor league baseball ... I get it.  The business of baseball is no different than other enterprises.  The trick, always, is gaining more market share, and generating new revenue streams.

Especially at this level, baseball is supposed to be fan, kid, and generally family friendly, and that they're not necessarily trying to hook old guys like me.  Teams might need our "old people" money, per se, but this level requires they go through our children's generation to get it.

I thought the Yankees organization was beyond all that?  I thought the Yankees brand was the selling point?  The Yankee name certainly put Staten Island on the baseball map, or, was that the old American Association Metropolitans of the 1880's?

But now that I've thought about it, a name change would serve them well, and perhaps give the outer most borough an uptick in identity.

In fact, I'd like to help out, by sharing some of my ideas for a new team name:
  • The Staten Island City Secessionists...
  • The Staten Island Former Brooklynites...
  • The Staten Island of Misfit Friends (because you moved too far and can't hang, or do cool stuff in the city anymore)...
  • The Staten Island Land Fillers...
  • The Staten Island Dumpers...
  • The Staten Island Odors...
  • The Rotten Island Stankees...
  • The Staten Island Soccer Moms...
  • The Staten Island Horrific Drivers...
  • The Staten Island Mall Rats...
  • The Staten Island Lone Train Riders...
  • The Staten Island Ferry Rats...
  • The Staten Island Toll Collectors...
  • The Staten Island Arthur Killers...
  • The Staten Island New Dorpers...
  • The Staten Island Mob Wives...
  • The Staten Island Victorian Shmictorians...

And yes, the Yankees are presently in first place with a perfect 5-0 record.

Okay ... I had my fun and let that stand for three-plus hours.

Here are some more serious considerations @ 12:02am

  • The Staten Island Narrows ... obviously.  After all, Norfolk calls themselves the Tides.
  • The Staten Island Settlers
  • The Staten Island Raging Dutchmen
  • The Staten Island Villagers
  • The Staten Island Harbor Guards
  • The Staten Island Harbor Gulls
  • The Staten Island Fightin' Gulls
  • The Staten Island Wetlanders
  • The Staten Island Greenbelt Creatures
  • The Staten Island Scooters
  • The Staten Island Cow Bells
  • The Staten Island Iron Horsemen
  • The Staten Island Laruppen' Lou's
  • The Staten Island Bustin' Babes
  • The Richmond County Babes
  • The Richmond County Pinstripes
  • The Richmond County Bombers
  • The Richmond County Outlanders
  • The Richmond County Dukes
  • The Richmond County Stapletons ... old school NFL throwback.
  • The Richmond County Ferry Crashers  I had to get one more jab in ... sorry.

My #1 choice to replace the name "Staten Island Yankees" is:

  • The Richmond County Boogymen
  • or, the Staten Island Wild Childs


It's a little bold, and a little ballsy ... considering it stems from the old Willowbrook crazy home.   Better Boogymen than the S. I. Cropsey Kids ... right?  But it's local, it's urban folklore, and just think of the potential merchandising.

Now batting for the Boogymen...

..and the score after three innings is Brooklyn 4, the Boogymen 6.

The Boogymen will embark on a six game road trip....

You get the idea.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

L.I. Ducks: Faltering Flock Fall Two Back in Standings

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE


Revs lead series 2-0
I - YRK 7; LID 2
II - YRK 8; LID 3
III - WEDNESDAY

Long Island Ducks: Countdown commenced at T minus 20 ... that's twenty games remaining in the first half.

Something just doesn't jive...

You study team stats, compare them, sometimes even admire them, and reasonably conclude Long Island should be slightly ahead of Somerset in the standings.  Yet, by close of business Tuesday, the Ducks ponderously fell two games behind the Patriots in the Liberty Division.

You start thinking what went wrong in a season where seemingly every little taste of first place resulted in food poisoning.  Then a quick glance back over last two months reveals a season littered by squandered opportunities.

On June 14, the Ducks began a stretch of 24 games in 22 days.  Things got off well enough with a home sweep of the Bees.  Losing a double-header to the Lancaster Barnstormers this past Saturday, however, was absolutely brutal.  Somerset was victorious over the Blue Crabs that day, and so the Ducks needed to at least gain a split.

Long Island arrived in York Monday where their road woes continued with a pair of losses against the Freedom Division leaders, that A) - ensured Long Island's second straight series loss in York with Wednesday's game to go, and B) - dropped their road record to 11-17 this season.

LIBERTY DIVISION
Patriots   34-24
Ducks      32-26

Somerset owns the head-to-head match-up against the Ducks, and the two will not face each other again for the remainder of the first half.  Now time is beginning to run short, and the Patriots are heating up again with an 8-2 record over their last ten games.

And now time is beginning to run short on the first half.

Prepare for a photo finish ... but it didn't need to be this way.

Brooklyn Cyclones: Noise Complaints on Surf Avenue

From the desk of:  THE CONEY ISLAND NINE


Series Finale
Tri City Valley Cats
vs.
Brooklyn Cyclones
FROM
CONEY ISLAND

Brooklyn Cyclones: It's been a long season, and we're only four games in...

Look what happened to the Cyclones ... again!

The Baby Bums engaged in yet another late night Surf Avenue disturbance that lasted 17 innings this time, and didn't end until 1:10am into the night.  At least Friday's 20 inning violation concluded by 12:34am.

And once again, the Cyclones came up just short.

  • Friday - 20 inning loss to Staten Island.
  • Saturday - 10 inning, no-hit loss to Staten Island
  • Sunday - First victory of season over Tri City
  • Monday - 17 inning loss to Tri City

The innings are already exacting a heavy early season toll on the Cyclones staff, who've combined to pitch 56 innings in just four games, or, an average of 14 innings per game.

The situation has gotten to the point where Coach Gamboa resorted to handing infielder Santo Marte the ball in the 16th and 17th innings of Monday's game.

Marte has participated in a total of 15 games over the last two seasons, much less being practiced in the art of pitching.  Nevertheless, armed with a 77 mph pitch (for loss of a better word) he very interestingly negotiated a rather efficient 16th inning despite hitting a batter.  The uniqueness of his "stuff" wore off, however, as the Valley Cats turned the 17th inning into just another batting practice session with four runs.

The Cyclones damn near accomplished the improbable, after scoring three runs, and loading the bases with two outs.  Catcher Brandon Brosher, however, looked at strike three to end the game.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Brooklyn Cyclones Gain First Victory; 2016 Season Preview

From the desk of:  THE SURF AVENUE SLUGGERS



KNOW YOUR CYCLONES

BROOKLYN CYCLONES: Try, try, and try again; Jay Jabs' seventh inning stroke propels Coney Islanders to first victory of new season.

The first weekend of Cyclones baseball is in the books.  And perhaps Coney Island's annual Mermaid Parade best symbolized just how odd Brooklyn's two games against the Yankees, and series opener against the Valley Cats really were.

Opening Day featured an absurd 20-inning marathon at Coney Island, won by the Yankees.  The Cyclones were then no-hit through 10 innings during a 2-1 loss on Saturday in the Staten Island end of their home and home opening series.  The occasion marked the second time the Cyclones were no-hit in their sixteen year history.

On Sunday, Brooklyn hosted the Tri City Valley Cats, and again were limited to just a pair of hits through the first six innings.  Tri City finally broke a scoreless tie in the top of the seventh, taking a 1-0 lead off reliever Alejandro Castro.  The Brooks came right back in the bottom of the frame, taking a 2-1 lead on a 2-RBI single by third baseman Jay Jabs, making his Cyclones debut.  Reliever Taylor Henry made that lead stand with two scoreless innings for his first save of the season.

...and the Brooklyn Cyclones' first victory of the season..!

Know Your Cyclones

Manager Tom Gaboa, now in his third season as Cyclones manager, will have a pair of fresh faces on his staff.  Joining bench coach Edgardo Alfonzo, who has been with Gamboa since 2014, former Cyclone Sean Ratcliffe will serve as this year's hitting coach.  He coached with Kingsport last season. This will also be Billy Bryk Jr.'s first season as pitching coach, who previously padded his resume in the independent circuits.

Coach Gamboa's record:
  • 2014) 42-34; third straight season no playoffs.
  • 2015) 33-43; first losing record in Cyclones history.
  • Overall Record: 75-77 (.493)

Per the 2016 Game Program (first edition) and Cyclones website/roster: Nine of this year's Mets top eleven amateur draft picks are due to report to Brooklyn - most of which remain unsigned at last check.  There's also Kingsport of the Appalachian League to consider, who open their season on June 23rd.  Many of this year's Cyclones are last year's Appalachian League Mets.


Cyclones players who've thus far seen action through the first three games of the season:
  • 1st Update Monday 6/20
  • 2nd Update Tuesday 6/21
  • 3rd Update Wednesday 6/22

PITCHING

Starting Rotation:
  • Friday - RHP Gabriel Llanes, 20, pitched one game for BK last season.  Made 11 combined starts in 2015 w/ GCL and Kingsport.
  • Saturday - RHP Harol Gonzalez, 21, led Kingsport in innings pitched.
  • Sunday - RHP Merandy Gonzalez, 20, 2.82 ERA in 44.2 innings at Kingsport.
  • Monday - LHP Joel Huertas, 20, last two seasons with GCL Mets.
  • Tuesday - RHP Erik Mahoah, 20, Kingsport
Relief Appearances:
  • LHP Adrian Almeida, 21, 9.2 K/9 Kingsport; potential Loogy.
  • RHP Dillon Becker, 22, Kingsport; potential bullpen stud.
  • RHP Bryce Beeler, 23, missed all of 2015, last pitched at Kingsport in 2014.
  • RHP Nicco Blank, 23, second year with Brooklyn; already made 11 appearances with Columbia Fireflies this season.
  • RHP Alejandro Castro, 23, GCL.
  • LHP Gabriel Feliz, 23, Kingsport.
  • LHP Taylor Henry, 22, made one appearance for PSL this season; Kingsport.
  • RHP Raul Jacobson, 24, pitched 5 combined games for Brooklyn and GCL last season.
  • RHP Joseph Zanghi, 21, drafted last year by Reds; made his pro debut this season.
  • RHP Nabil Crismatt, 21, Kingsport.
Still Pending:
  • RHP Justin Dunn - 1st round pick/2016 - signed
  • LHP Anthony Kay - 1st round pick/2016
  • RHP Austin McGeorge - 7th round pick/2016
  • RHP Chris Viall - 6th round pick/2016
  • RHP Gary Cornish - 19th round/2016 
  • RHP Adam Atkins - 18th round/2016

INFIELD
  • C Brandon Brosher, 21, second season with Cyclones; played one game this season with PSL.
  • C Ali Sanchez, 19, played mostly with GCL Mets.
  • C Dan Rizzie - 13th round draft pick/2016; making his pro debut.
  • C/1B Darryl Knight, 22, seven home runs in 110 at-bats with Kingsport.
  • P/1B Dionis Paulino, 21, GCL.
  • 2B Santo Marte, 22, only 15 games played last two seasons.
  • 2B Nicholas Sergakis, 23, drafted in 23rd round/2016; making his pro debut.
  • SS Dale Burdick, 20, played four games with Binghamton this season.
  • SS/3B Yeffry De Aza, 19, batted .313 in 99 at-bats at Kingsport.
  • SS Colby Woodmansee - 5th round draft pick/2016; making his pro debut.
  • 3B Franklin Correra, 20, Kingsport.
  • 3B Jay Jabs, 21, drafted 17th round/2016; making his pro debut.
Still Pending:
  • 1B Peter Alonso - 2nd round pick/2016 
  • SS Michael Paez - 4th round pick/2016
  • 3B Blake Tiberi - 3rd round pick/2016   Signed

OUTFIELD
  • LF Vincente Lupo, 22, already played 25 games with Columbia Fireflies this season; played 93 games with Savannah last season.
  • LF Hengelbert Rojas, 22, second season with Cyclones.
  • LF/CF Enmanuel Zabala, 21, second season with Cyclones; appeared in four games with Columbia Fireflies this season.
  • CF Jacob Zanon, 20, drafted in 15th round/2016; making his pro debut.
  • RF Arnaldo Berrios, 20, Kingsport.
  • RF Gene Cone - 10th round pick/2016; making his pro debut.

N.Y. Mets: Taijeron and Nimmo making noise in Las Vegas



Here's my latest for 






Mike
senior staff writer/Rising Apple

Staten Island Yankees complete sweep over Brooklyn Cyclones

From the desks of:
THE SURF AVENUE SLUGGERS  and THE RICHMOND COUNTY BOMBERS



The Staten Island Yankees completed a home-and-home opening series sweep 
Saturday over the Brooklyn Cyclones at the Ballpark at St. George.

Staten Island's Drew Finely and Josh Roeder combine on 10-inning no-hitter over Brooks; Mini Bombers complete 30-inning, two game opening series sweep of Cyclones.

Yankees    3
Cyclones   2
20 innings

Game Two Final
Cyclones   1
Yankees    2
10 innings


Historic?

Considering the Cyclones jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Enmanuel Zabala led-off the game with a HBP, advanced two bases on a walk and a fielder's choice, then scored on a Drew Finely wild pitch?

I guess...

What would Henry Chadwick say?

Yankees starter Drew Finely and reliever Josh Roeder combined to face 33 batters over ten innings.   Finely went six innings, allowed the one earned run on no hits and one walk, with five strikeouts for his first victory.  Reliever Josh Roeder followed, and was flat out dominating over his four innings of work, allowing no hits, no walks, and fanning 10 of the 12 batters he faced.

For his part, Cyclones starter Harol Gonzalez did not pitch badly.  The 21 year old right-hander allowed just one earned run on five hits and two walks, with six strikeouts.

With the score tied at one, Brooklyn's Adrian Almeida took the loss in relief.  In a case of what comes around goes around, Almeida put the eventual winning run on base with a 1-out HBP in the home 10th inning.  A walk and a wild pitch later, DH Dalton Blaser stood at third.  Sound familiar? 

Clean-up batter and first baseman, Kane Sweeney then singled Blaser home for the win, and the sweep.

Of the 34 Cyclones batters who stepped up to the plate Saturday, 15 of them struck out.  The Cyclones were outscored by a mere 5-3 margin, but were out-hit by a 19-7 margin over two games against Yankees pitching.

Back to back extra inning losses to the Staten Island Yankees?

Definitely not what I had in mind to start the season.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

L.I. Ducks: No Place Like Home

From the desk of: THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE



Saturday Twin-Bill at Bethpage Ballpark

TODAY
Lancaster Barnstormers
vs.
Long Island Ducks
FROM
THE POND

LONG ISLAND DUCKS: A sweep of the Bees, and even a five game winning streak still barely enough to distance themselves from Somerset Patriots.

Heading into Saturday's double-header against the Lancaster Barnstormers, the Ducks are winners of five in a row, and remain undefeated during their current home stand.

By virtue of one more loss in the Liberty Division standings, the relentless second place Patriots are similarly 7-2 over their last nine games, and enter today's action against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs a mere half game behind Long Island.

Including today's double-header, the Ducks have 14 games remaining in June, then 10 games to go in July before the first half expires.

Flock Rock

The indefatigable Lew Ford continues leading the Atlantic League with a .348 average, while Fehlandt Lentini is still third with a .345 mark, and is 7th in the league with 31 RBI.

Three Ducks starting pitchers rank among the league's top six in ERA.  Mark Blackmar leads all with a stellar 1.94 ERA; Jack Snodgrass is fourth with a 2.97 mark; John Brownell is heating up and now rates sixth with a 3.09 ERA.

Meanwhile, Jack Snodgrass leads the circuit with 67 strikeouts, with Darin Downs a close second with 62 strikeouts.

In his last three starts, John Brownell has only allowed five earned runs through 23 innings pitched, while fanning 24 batters and only walking four.  On June 11, he struck out double-digit batters for the second time this season.

M*A*S*H

Tyler Colvin and Sean Burroughs are in the midst of serving a 7-day stint on the disabled list, with shortstop Dan Lyons ailing from a strained hamstring as well.

New Kids in the Pond

General Michael Pfaff signed two players during the week that was.
  • Pitcher Dustin Richardson, 32, gained 29 games of MLB experience between the 2009 and 2010 seasons with Boston.  Drafted by the Red Sox in the 5th round of the 2006 amateur draft, he additionally went on to serve in the respective systems of Florida, Atlanta, L.A./Anaheim, and the L.A. Dodgers.  Now an 11 year minor league and independent circuit veteran, he formerly pitched for the Sugar Land Skeeters during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.  At all levels, he boasts a career 46-36 record and 4.35 ERA through 776 innings pitched.  He owns a career 1.394 WHiP, and a 9.5 K/9 average covering 378 games, and 84 career starts.
  • Second baseman Carlos Hughes, 27, was reacquired, after appearing in 35 games for the Ducks last season.  He previously played for the Sussex County Miners of the CanAm League, and for the Camden RiverSharks.  In 2014, he also played for the Las Vegas Train Robbers(!) of the independent Pecos League.

Last Licks

Revisiting a favorite pet peeve of mine  -  had the Atlantic League not realigned the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs and Somerset Patriots, the Ducks could presently be leading the Liberty Division by six games over second place New Britain.  In fact, we could even be speaking of a mini dynasty were it not for Somerset's division presence over the last few seasons... perchance to dream.

Just gotta play the game...

By The Way...

Nice appearance by Long Island closer, and eight year major league veteran Todd Coffey on MLB Network last week, giving the Atlantic League and the Ducks a lot of exposure.

Staten Island Yankees spoil Brooklyn season opener in 20-inning marathon

From the desk of:  THE CONEY ISLAND NINE



Opening Day Final
S.I. Yankees    2
BK Cyclones   1

Richmond County Bombers outlasted the Cyclones, a fireworks show, Dino's, the Scream Zone attractions, and most kids under 12 years old during a nearly 6 hour long Opening Day/Late Night marathon at MCU Park.

One batter and eight minutes into the Cyclones' regular season, center fielder Enmanuel Zabala connected on a high arching, lead-off home run off the scoreboard in left field against Yankees starter Adonis Rosa.

The Richmond Nine struck back, touching Brooklyn starter Gabriel Llanes for three hits and an RBI sac-fly in the top of the 4th inning to take a 2-1 lead.  Llanes otherwise pitched 6 innings, allowed just the two earned runs on six hits, a walk, and fanned one batter before departing to a no-decision.   Gabriel Llanes benefited from Brandon Brosher's a 2-out double, and a triple off the bat of Darryl Knight in the bottom of the frame, which knotted the game at two, and got him off the hook for a potential loss.

That's the way the game remained for the next 15 innings and through many more hours of play.

Brooklyn let a golden scoring opportunity escape them in the home eighth.  Staten Island reliever Justin Kamplain issued three walks to load the bases and was naturally yanked in favor of David Sosebee.  But with two outs, Sosebee whiffed Brandon Brosher swinging to end the threat.

Moreover, the Cyclones were kept hit-less between the 8th and 14th innings.

Staten Island utilized five relievers, two of which tallied three innings each, while Michael Schaub tossed four.  Cyclones manager Tom Gamboa was more reserved in his usage, limiting six relievers to a pair of innings each, and calling on nine relievers overall.

Coach Gamboa summoned Dionis Paulino to pitch the top of the 20th frame, who promptly walked the first three Yankees batters he faced.  A sac-fly to center later by center fielder Ricardo Ferreria plated the go-ahead run.

Brooklyn went down in order during last licks, while second baseman Santo Marte fanned to end the game.

In an eerie reminder of last season's all pitch/no hit team, the Cyclones went just 1 for 12 with RISP.

The Baby Brooks will venture into Richmond County Saturday to complete their home-and-home opening series against the Yankees.




Brooklyn Cyclones: Opening Day ... and Night

From the desk of:  THE CONEY ISLAND NINE



*  *   2016   *  *


Brooklyn Cyclones Baseball Club

OPENING DAY


Went to get my tickets earlier in the afternoon.


Made my way through the front gates,


quickly grabbed a game program, and checked out the starting line-ups.


But someone clearly dropped the ball here.
#66 Ferrera CF - was slated to lead-off for both teams.



After team introductions,


The Brooklyn Cyclones took the field.

Home plate umpire then made the call to
PLAY BALL!


First Pitch of the 2016 Season



Enmanuel Zabala actually batted lead-off for the Cyclones, 
and led-off the bottom of the first inning with a home run off the left field scoreboard.


The Brooklyn Cyclones opened their 16th regular season against chief rival Staten Island at Coney Island Friday evening, and wound up essentially playing a double-header, plus!  The Cyclones and Yankees played 20 innings on Opening Night before a winner was decided.  Unfortunately for Cyclones fans, Staten Island prevailed.

The Cyclones will travel to Staten Island today to complete their home-and-home opening series against the Baby Bombers.

Friday, June 17, 2016

N.Y. Mets Farm Edition: From Drought to Plenty



Here's my latest for 





Today is also
OPENING DAY
for the Borough's
Boardwalk Nine


Staten Island Yankees
vs.
Brooklyn Cyclones
FROM
MCU PARK
Coney Island, USA



I'll be there!


Mike
senior staff writer/Rising Apple

Monday, June 13, 2016

L.I. Ducks: Monday Swim - 6/13

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE



Not your average mundane Monday.

Sporting identical 27-22 records, the L.I. Ducks and Somerset Patriots woke up Monday morning locked in a tie for the Liberty Division lead.

But that changed by sundown...

Long Island was idle Monday, while out in Pennsylvania visiting Somerset versus the Lancaster Barnstormers was the only scheduled game in town.

The Patriots were able to piecemeal four runs runs (three unearned), while starter Donovan Hand and a squad of five Somerset relievers limited Lancaster to just a pair.  Their 4-2 victory in turn nudged the Patriots a half game in the standings above the Ducks.

Long Island, meanwhile, was busy traveling home from Southern Maryland after taking a weekend series over the Blue Crabs.  They will now open a seven game home stand on Tuesday, starting with a three game series against the New Britain Bees, followed by a four game set against Lancaster.

Somerset will be hosting the York Revolution and the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. The combined record of the Ducks next two opponents is 49-48, while the Patriots next two opponents own a sub par 47-51 record.

The Ducks, however, so far haven't fared very well against their next two opponents:
  • They dropped 2 of 3 games against the Bees back in April, then split four games at Bethpage Park in May.
  • Long Island opened the month of May with a sweep over the Barnstorms, who then reciprocated with their own three game sweep over Ducks as the calendar flipped to June.

Splits: Long Island Ducks vs. Somerset Patriots

I. Pitching:
  • ERA - LID second best; SOM third best.
  • WHiP - LID #1; SOM second best.
  • Average Against - LID #1; SOM fourth best.
  • SLG Against - LID third best; SOM fifth best.
  • HR Allowed - SOM fourth least; LID fifth least.
  • ER Allowed - LID second least; SOM third least
  • Hits Allowed - LID #1; SOM fifth least
  • Walks - SOM #1; LID fifth least.
  • Strikeouts - LID #1; SOM third most.
II. Batting:
  • Average - LID #1; SOM sixth best.
  • OBP - LID second best; SOM fourth best.
  • SLG - LID second best; SOM fifth best.
  • Runs - LID #1; SOM second most.
  • Hits - LID #1; SOM fifth most.
  • Home Runs - SOM fourth most; LID sixth most.
  • Walks - SOM #1; LID sixth most.
  • Total Bases - LID second most; SOM fifth most.

On the mound, Long Island hurlers lead the Atlantic League with the fewest hits allowed, as well as WHiP, average against, and strikeouts.  Yet, they've issued more walks and surrendered more home runs than have the Patriots.  While at the plate, Somerset has conversely drawn more walks and hit more home runs than have the Ducks.  The Patriots also lead the league in stolen bases, and have more than doubled Long Island's base thefts.  Otherwise, the Ducks hold an edge (albeit slim in many cases) in nearly all key pitching and batting categories.

So what's the hold up guys?

N.Y. Mets: Lacking Spring in Their Step



Here's my latest for 


So far, the first 62 games of the season have been a 2015 redux.
Read about it here...

Mets in midst of the Dog Days of ... Spring?



Mike
senior staff writer/Rising Apple

Sunday, June 12, 2016

N.Y. Mets: RA Draft Overview Rounds 2-10



Here's my latest for 




 ICYMI: 



Mike
senior staff writer/Rising Apple

L.I. Ducks: Flock Bow to Blue Crabs but Gain Share of First Place

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE


Series tied 1-1
I- LID 4; SMD 2
II - SMD 2; LID 1
III - SUNDAY

Long Island Ducks: Crabs get to John Brownell; Flock go limp against Sexton; backdoor way into first place tie with Somerset.

On Saturday, John Brownell set the franchise all-time record with his 92nd start,
but was denied a would be record breaking 41st victory for the Ducks.

One lucky claw back...

That's what Saturday's game must have felt like to John Brownell.

Damn Crabs.

After trading zeroes with opposing starter Tim Sexton through the first five innings, Long Island broke through with a run in the top of the seventh when Sexton himself unleashed a wild pitch allowing Anthony Vega to score from third.

That lead was short lived.  After issuing a 1-out walk to Zack Wilson in the bottom of the frame, Brownell surrendered a 2-out home run to Blue Claws right fielder Jamar Walton.

There's your ball game.

John Brownell completed eight innings of work, allowed two earned runs on six hits and one walk, and fanned ten batters in what devolved into a disappointing loss.

Outside of a gift wild pitch, Tim Sexton fended off the Ducks offense for seven innings, allowing just four hits and a walk, with six strikeouts.

After Sunday's series finale in Southern Maryland, the Ducks will return home on Tuesday to host the New Britain Bees and Lancaster Barnstormers.



Liberty Division Standings
Patriots   26-22
Ducks      26-22
Bees         24-24
Bluefish   19-30

Somerset has certainly done everything possible to hand Long Island the division lead, having posted a 13-22 record after their stellar 13-0 start to their season.  They entered Saturday's action with a precarious 1/2 game lead over the Ducks, then took yet another step backwards in their deteriorating season with their own 6-4 loss to the Barnstormers, and therefore dropped into a tie with the Ducks atop the Liberty Division with identical 26-22 records.

But after posting an 18-10 record in May, the Ducks are now 4-6 in the month of June, and clearly failing to seize the day.

Upon the conclusion of Sunday's rubber game/series finale against Southern Maryland, the Ducks will have 24 games remaining on their first half schedule.  Long Island and Somerset are effectively done with each other, and will not face each other again until the second half.  This division race is gearing up for a photo finish, and must ultimately be won based on how each runs against common opponents.


Friday, June 10, 2016

Thursday, June 09, 2016

N.Y. Mets: Damage Control

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET



After a financial collapse and an organizational rebuild,
ownership's actions over these last two seasons 
demonstrated a willingness, and growing ability
to be MLB players again.

NEW YORK METS: To my $urprise, the Amazin's are not idly $tanding by...

There's much to harangue with the way the season has gone thus far.

Quite frankly, this station to station offense, and waiting on the long ball approach doesn't exactly sit well with me.  The Mets are indeed tied for the National League lead in home runs, yet they've scored the third least runs.  They additionally boast the fifth worst team OBP, and are dead last in stolen bases (second to last in all of MLB).

Their now concluded series in Pittsburgh put all that futility on full display.  So, if this is Money Ball, I'm contemplating withdrawing my account and sticking the cash back under my mattress.

On the mound, their performance so far has been a mixed bag of goods.  Or should I say good, just not good enough...

On the one hand, the Mets pitching staff boasts the third best ERA, have allowed the fourth least hits, own the fourth best average against, and fanned the sixth most batters.  The bad news is they trail the Washington Nationals and the Chicago Cubs in each of the aforementioned categories.

For the moment, I'm not overly concerned.

What I am, however, is pleasantly surprised...

The Mets front office had a really, really good off-season, and I commended them for it.  In fact, as injuries began mounting this season, I was already handing them a free pass.

Considering their ongoing financial situation, I thought ownership and Sandy Alderson had already done enough, and that the onus was on the remaining starters, back-ups, and minor league call-ups to just suck it up and play through the injuries.  I even cautioned my own friends and fellow fans not to expect much else in the way of transactions, asking what more could they do?

Therein lies my surprise...

The front office has continued going off campus in an effort to bolster the active roster.  And once again, I commend them for both their proactive, and reactive response.  Winning a N.L. pennant last year was great, but this is the type of action which demonstrates renewed and refreshing commitment moving forward.

To account for Lucas Duda's absence, Sandy Alderson purchased veteran first baseman James Loney on May 28 from the San Diego Padres.  Infielder Kelly Johnson was then re-acquired this week via trade from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for minor league pitcher Akeel Morris.

Whether these moves help remains to be seen.  But busy general manager's hands means happy fans ... so just remember no one was complaining when the transactions took place.

After springing into action during last year's trade deadline, then committing big money to Yoenis Cespedes in the off-season, as well as shoring up the middle infield with qualified veterans, one would think the Mets financial situation has settled.

In a sense, it has, but make no mistake, ownership is still heavily in debt.  What they've achieved, however, is an agreeable balance between financial obligation and on-field operations.  Attendance is up-ticking again, and most, if not all of their bank and SNY related debt has been re-re-refinanced through the remainder of this decade.  Separate from that, their settlement with Irvin Picard in the Madoff related claw back suit has been reduced as well.  So, yes, today things are certainly looking up (until salary arbitration starts taking a larger toll on the team budget, that is).

Circling back, being broke is a great reason to rebuild.  Upon assuming control, Sandy Alderson initiated the hasty process of shedding upwards of $60 millions dollars from the Wilpon's payroll.   For several seasons thereafter, he kept expenses low, and merely recycled the same money to various transient players.

If you're into fuzzy math, the Mets acquired Curtis Granderson during this period at an effective net cost of zero - in recycled dollars, that is - as Grandy's contract did not necessarily increase payroll from one season to the next.

Instead, the signing of free agent Michael Cuddyer in November 2014 represented the first real dollar increase in payroll to that point during Alderson's process.  That's the moment when we can say the Mets finally began taking appreciable steps forwards again.

Dare I ask, what else can they possibly negotiate between now and the non-waiver trade deadline in July?