Tuesday, June 30, 2015

N.Y. Rangers: Glen Sather is Still in the Building


Glen Sather spent wheel barrels of bad money on the likes of
Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Brad Richards, just to name a few.
But, there was no money for Ryan Callahan or Carl Hagelin...

NEW YORK RANGERS: Glen Sather didn't step aside soon enough.  Why can't he just leave, and hand off the team's remaining assets to Jeff Gorton already; please!

It's high time Glen Sather hastened his decision to step away from the office of general manager. Every day he further delays his decision is a detriment to the team and to the mental well being of Rangers fans.

If trading Carl Hagelin was indeed a cap move, (which is was), then who maxed out the cap in the first place?  Hagelin now joins Ryan Callahan as former Rangers Glen Sather couldn't afford.

That's irritating considering all the bad money he's thrown around.

I wasn't averse to trading Hagelin.  He never did maximize his potential here.  He's fast and young, and had opportunities under two different coaches with differing styles to get his game figured out.   He needed to become more than just a PK specialist, and didn't.  It seemed as if he wasn't scoring on a breakaway, his offensive game remained relatively inconsequential.

Fact is, the Rangers were in need of so much more from Hagelin, or in return from this trade, but walk away from this seemingly empty handed (outside of saving a few bucks).  I have a big problem when the player received in return isn't nearly as good, which is exactly what the Rangers are getting in Emerson Etem - a lesser player.  Suffice to say, Glen Sather far from maximized Hagelin's worth.

On another note, trading Hagelin is also an admission by the front office that the team needs to get bigger and tougher.

My same dissatisfaction applies for the trading of Cam Talbot.

Once again, I was not averse to trading Talbot.  The Rangers had a hot commodity.

Clearly, something needed to be done.  The Rangers went without a #1 and #2 pick in the 2013 draft, and were without a #1 pick last year.

I wonder who created that situation...

So, Sather traded Talbot to the Edmonton Oilers for the 57th, 79th, and 184th picks of the recent draft.  Very simply, Glen Sather got ripped off.  After reading around, the common sentiment is that Sather overplayed his hand, and blew it.

By his own semi-admission, it's time, then, for him to finally step down as general manager of the New York Rangers.

His tenure started horribly, and ended well.  That's fair, so let's leave it at that, because the next thing I'll say is the team just took a step backwards.

2015 Draft Selections:
#41 Ryan Gropp-W
#62 Robin Kovacs-W
#79 Sergey Zborovskiy-D
#89 Aleksi Saarela-C
#113 Brad Morrison-C
#119 Daniel Bernhardt-W
#184 Adam Huska-G


Monday, June 29, 2015

N.Y. Mets: Rolling out the welcome Matz

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

NEW YORK METS: Steven Matz joins a starting rotation six years in the making.  Let Flushing's Fearsome Five Era begin.

No one can predict the future.  But, as a long time baseball fan I'm sure in my ability at recognizing the start of something good...

Document the day Steven Matz made his MLB debut in your minds, for Flushing's Fearsome Five is now seemingly assembled:

Steven Matz - Matt Harvey - Jacob deGrom - Zack Wheeler - Noah Syndergaard

Although still technically a year away, this rotation has been 6 years in the making.

Give Omar Minaya his due credit for drafting Steven Matz, Matt Harvey, and Jacob deGrom, while Sandy Alderson did very well to secure prospects Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard in trades.  

Three of them were drafted in the 1st round, and the other two were drafted in the 2nd.

Steven Matz might have been the last of the aforementioned pitchers to make his MLB debut, but formation of this potentially Fearsome Five effectively started with him back in 2009.  The Mets made Matz the 72nd overall pick in the 2nd round of that year's June amateur draft.  

However, it took him 2+ years to rehabilitate from Tommy John surgery early in 2010 before making his professional minor league debut late in 2012.  Then in just over 2-years time he fast-tracked through the Mets system starting with Kingsport, followed by stops in Savannah, Port St. Lucie, and Binghamton. He started the 2015 season with Las Vegas, and was leading the Pacific Coast League in ERA and strikeouts upon his call-up to the Mets.

  • Sunday at Citi Field, Steven Matz tossed 7.2 innings, allowed 2 earned runs on 5 hits and 3 walks, and fanned 6 batters to earn his first major league victory.  He threw 110 pitches with 72 (65%) going for strikes.  He was also 3 for 3 at the plate, with a double and 4 RBI.

On July 26, 2012, the Dark Knight became the first Fab-Five to debut in Flushing.  The Mets selected Matt Harvey with the 7th overall pick of the 2010 draft.  In 2013, he was an All-Star, and finished 4th in Cy Young Award voting.  After 26 starts, however, he required Tommy John surgery which kept him out of action through the 2014 season.

With Matt Harvey out, Jacob deGrom stepped in.  He debuted on May 15, 2014, and merely went on to win Rookie of the Year honors.  The Mets drafted Jacob deGrom in the same 2010 draft with the 272nd overall pick in the 9th round.

Prior to deGrom, however, Zack Wheeler was the second of the Flushing Five to debut with the Mets. He joined Matt Harvey back on June 18, 2013, and for a short time helped form the rotation's original dynamic duo.  In July of 2011, Zack Wheeler was obtained from the Giants in exchange for Carlos Beltran.  San Francisco selected Wheeler 6th overall in the 2009 draft.

Unfortunately, he's the only one presently missing from the equation, succumbing to Tommy John surgery back in Spring Training.  All fingers are crossed for Wheeler's successful return in 2016.

In fact, Tommy John surgeries have prevented Harvey, Wheeler, and deGrom from forming a true triumvirate for a second straight season.

Then along came Noah Syndergaard.  His Mets/MLB debut came on May 15th of this year.  Thor was obtained by the Mets in December of 2012, as part of the big R.A. Dickey trade with Toronto.   The Blue Jays selected Syndergaard in the first round of the 2010 draft with the 38th overall pick.

Ideally, these 5 pitchers would comprise the Mets starting rotation for the next decade. That, however, is unlikely.  If the Mets are to improve their offense with premium talent, and to a lesser extent improve defensively, surely one of these pitchers must be included in a trade.

The only question would be whom to include.

I have an odd answer.

Matt Harvey is obviously out of the question.  But, he, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, and now Zack Wheeler, have all had Tommy John surgeries.  Noah Syndergaard has not.  

Read into that what you will....

Best case scenario would be the Mets get to keep them all (future financial considerations withstanding).  Retaining all five would prove difficult, but certainly not out of the question.  In the short term, however, the Mets would be limiting themselves to improving the offense through waivers, free agency, and from within.

Truth is, I'm leery of trading any of these pitchers at this point, particularly in light having all five potentially manning next year's starting rotation together for the first time.  This could evolve into something very special.

Instead, the onus should be on the general manager and ownership to improve the team around them. 

Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon are clearly the Mets expendable pitchers.  In the absence of a blockbuster deal, Sandy Alderson needs to creatively package these, and other expendables, for a stop-gap offensive infusion, improving the bench, or fortifying the bullpen.

Meanwhile, ownership ultimately needs to spend more money than originally planned. That's what good clubs do at the trade deadline.  That's what proactive clubs do, particularly when their division is up for grabs.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

N.Y. Knicks: Storm Brewing in the MSG Triangle

From the desk of:  DUTCH PANTS CAN'T JUMP

Phil Jackson Delivers Melo's World a Deflating Blow

New York Knicks: Phil Jackson has wrinkled Carmelo Anthony's space/time continuum since the moment he arrived.

Those weren't boos raining down from disgruntled Knicks fans sitting in attendance at Thursday's draft.  Wait a minute, yes they were - collectively reliving their worst Frederic Weis nightmares, and acting out.

They weren't the only ones.

When GM's start acting on the passions of their fan base, that organization is in clear danger.  It's no different when an organization's top star wields his opinion like an unsheathed sword.  In that scenario, the GM, backed by strong organizational conviction, must remain alpha.

There's the rub.  We're talking about James Dolan.  Among Isiah Thomas, Carmelo Anthony, and Phil Jackson, I suspect Dolan trusts Jackson least.

And so, without hesitation, and fear of recrimination, it was Melo amplifying the angry fan chorus on draft day.


James Dolan made it perfectly clear 4 1/2 years ago that he was abandoning pursuit of the team concept for the more marketable star system featuring Carmelo Anthony.  That's why Mike D'Antoni's system ultimately reverted to Melo Ball, and Mike Woodson's system ultimately reverted to Melo Ball.

Last season, even Phil Jackson's triangle offense, at some point broke down, and defaulted back to Melo Ball.  The priority, however, focused more ping-pong balls once Melo opted for surgery.  That said, now that Phil Jackson is in charge, he's outwardly re-instituting the team concept again, which appears to have Melo out of his comfort zone.

Anthony indeed underwent surgery to address his first major injury.  That sort of thing can weigh heavily on the mind of a 31-year old, particularly when his prime physical years are winding down, he's struggling with his legacy, and is now faced with his team's untimely rebuilding effort.

Unfortunately for Melo, Phil Jackson's reign as head guy in charge unofficially, or effectively, started with Thursday's draft, and Melo felt the effects with haste.  Thus, the selection of Latvian cager Kristaps Porzingis and the trading of Tim Hardaway Jr. inspired a contrary response from Anthony.

Fact is, Phil Jackson has wrinkled Melo's time/space continuum since the moment he assumed office. Jackson has been an intruder in Melo's World more than anything.  In fact, I'm somewhat astonished Phil and Melo hammered out a new contract when they did.

Ultimately, Melo stayed for the money.  Now, it's up to him to buy-in.

I do know this, Phil Jackson will be alpha to Melo, whether Anthony likes it or not.  That's a battle Carmelo will not win, unless, James Dolan comes to his rescue.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

L.I. Ducks: Pitcher Andrew Barbosa Leads Flock to 10th Straight Victory

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Ducks lead season series 5-1
I - LID 5; SLS 0
II - LID 10; SLS 2
III - SLS 8; LID 4
IV - LID 4; SLS 1
V - LID 3; SLS 1
VI - LID 2; SLS 0

Long Island Ducks
Sugar Land Skeeters
The Lone Star State

Long Island Ducks: The Flock and Patriots break out their brooms; no change in division race.

Long Island Ducks Post 2nd 10-Game Win Streak in Month of June.

The Ducks completed a four game sweep of the Bridgeport Bluefish Monday, which also extended their consecutive game winning steak to ten.  It's presently their 2nd such streak in the month of June.

Headlining Monday's 4-1 victory over the Fish was southpaw Andrew Barbosa, whom turned in yet another stellar performance.  He faced 25 Bluefish batters, and threw 105 pitches with 64 going for strikes.  In 7 innings pitched, Andrew allowed one earned run on just 2 hits and 2 walks, and fanned 7 batters before giving way to the bullpen.

Barbosa has been nothing short of a godsend for a rotation that struggled when it still depended on (since departed) reliever Eric Niesen for starts.  In 7 starts since joining the Ducks, Barbosa is now 4-0, with a 1.84 ERA.  In 39 innings he has surrendered just 26 hits, and fanned 45 batters.

With 2-outs in the home 1st, Lew Ford connected on his 6th home run of the season.  In the bottom of the 3rd, Jose Morales and Reegie Corona struck back-to-back RBI doubles giving the Ducks their eventual 4-1 margin of victory.

Bridgeport's lone run of the game came off Barbosa in the 6th, whom walked the first two batters he faced, then surrendered an RBI hit to second baseman Luis Rodriguez.

Closer Ryan Kussmaul recorded his league leading 17th save of the season.

Long Island improved to 39-17, however, Somerset also closed out a sweep of their own over the Sugar Land Skeeters, and thus maintained their slim 1.5 game lead over the Ducks.  The Patriots have now won 6 in a row.

The next challenge facing Long Island will be to stay focused through six long games against the Skeeters in Sugar Land.

The Skeeters have now lost 7 straight, but will no doubt be looking to turn things around with haste.   Their recent slide caused them to fall 5 games back of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in the Freedom Division race.  They'll be a highly motivated competitor with as much at stake as the 2nd place Ducks, which should make for an intensely contested series.

Flock Rolls Another Nine
The Flock's Waddle is Strong


Monday, June 22, 2015

Episode #107 - That Boulder Rolling Down Hill has a Mets Logo on it

Here's our latest podcast at 

Sam wanted a rant, so I gave him one, or two.

Sam, the Converted Met Fan, hosted, I offered my two cents, 
and John from Metstradamus.com was our featured guest.

The passings of Darryl Hamilton and Nelson Doubleday...
Wilpon rants, Stephan Marbury? more Wilpon rants, Sandy Alderson rants...
Does NYC foster chaos and dysfunction?  Promises promises, and fan backlash,
Wilmer Flores, Dillon Gee, Michael Cuddyer, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo.
Mets players who've worn #7, the 2007 season, a President, 
What if the Mets had moved to Brooklyn?  Wait Till Next Year, and more.

Brooklyn Cyclones Defeat S.I. Yanks in season's first Battle of the Boroughs

From the desk of:  THE CONEY ISLAND NINE

Battle of the Boroughs - I

Brooklyn wins Opening Series 2-1
I - BKN 3; SIY 2
II - SIY 8; BKN 3
III - BKN 6; SIY 4

BROOKLYN CYCLONES: Party Poopers; Baby Bums and Baby Bombers spend weekend ruining each other's home openers.

If there's any consolation to Brooklyn losing their Coney Island home opener on Saturday, it's no doubt taking a pair from the Yankees in Staten Island, and ruining Richmond County's opening weekend as well.

The Staten Island Yankees hosted this year's opening of the 2015 New York-Penn League season on Friday, and jumped out to a 2-0 lead on right fielder Jhalan Jackson's 2-run home run off Brooklyn starter Tyler Badamo in the 2nd.

After an RBI by Tucker Tharp in the 4th, Michael Katz scored on a wild pitch in the 6th, knotting the game at two through 6 innings of play.  That's the way things stayed, as the first game of the season required extra innings.

With 2-outs and Enmanuel Zabala at second base in the top of the 12th, Michael Bernal's liner to left finally delivered the go-ahead run.

Reliever Gaither Bumgardner then retired the Yankees in order, striking out the final two batters to earn the win, and secure Brooklyn's opening night 3-2 victory.

*     *     *

In Saturday's Cyclones home opener at MCU Park, the Staten Island Yankees struck back to post a crowd deflating 8-3 victory over Brooklyn.

Starter Gabby Almonte climbed the hill, and was clubbed for 8 runs, 6 earned, on 8 hits and 2 walks.   He fanned 3 before departing the game on the losing side.

The Surf Avenue Sluggers were quiet this day.  First baseman Michael Katz was credited with the only Cyclones' RBI of the game.

*     *     *

The series shifted back to Staten Island for Sunday's rubber game, where the Cyclones built a 5-0 lead by the 5th, then held on to post a 6-4 victory, and an opening series win.

Right fielder Michael Bernal was 2 for 4 with a double, triple, 2 runs scored and an RBI.  DH Jeff Diehl was 2 for 4 with a home run and 2 RBI, and first baseman Zach Mathieu drove in a pair as well.

Starter Michael Gibbons pitched 5.2 innings.  He faced 22 batters, and threw 94 pitches with 61 going for strikes.  He allowed 2 earned runs on 2 hits and 2 walks, and fanned 6 batters en route to his first victory of the season.

*     *     *

Next: the Brooklyn Cyclones will host the Tri-City Valley Cats.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

L.I. Ducks: Flock Rolls Another Nine

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Long Island Ducks: Early Struggles Against Bridgeport Bluefish Becoming a Distant Memory.  Flock Takes Lead in Ferry Cup Series.

Fishing for Ten: Ducks Post 2nd Nine Game Winning Streak of June

Long Island started the season just 1-6 against Bridgeport.  They were outscored 47-25 in those first 7 games.

A series split against the Patriots back in May certainly didn't hurt the Ducks' standing.  That's why one might argue that within their initial poor play against Bridgeport this season lies the reason Long Island is not in first place today.

With Sunday's 8-3 victory, the Ducks have since defeated the Fish six straight times, and now lead the season series 7-6 heading into Monday night's series finale.  The Ducks have additionally turned the tables, and outscored the Fish by a 71-68 margin in the season series.

Sunday's win was Long Island's 9th straight victory, which marks their second such streak this month, and gives them a near perfect 19-1 record in June.  They improved to 38-17 for the season.

Ironically, it was the Fish who handed the Ducks their only loss this month, which halted their 10 game winning streak on June 11th.

Ruffling Feathers:

The league's #1 offense erupted for 12 runs against the Fish Saturday, and for another 8 runs on Sunday.  They have outscored Bridgeport this series by a 26-11 margin.

Catcher Jose Morales and DH Randy Ruiz provided most of Saturday's lumber, combining on 2 doubles, a home run, and 7 RBI.  Jon Griffin drove in a pair on Saturday, and another on Sunday to raise his season total to 39 RBI.

Bryan Sabatella returned to the lead-off spot on Sunday, going 2 for 5 with a runs scored, while Reegie Corona went 3 for 4, with 2 RBI.

There's presently no Ducks player hotter than Dan Lyons.  In his last 6 games, the Ducks shortstop is 8 for 17 (.470), with 2 home runs and 8 RBI.  His average up to .312 which now rates him 4th in the league, and his 31 RBI rank him 3rd behind team mates Lew Ford and Jon Griffin.

In fact, the Atlantic League leader board is covered in Ducks feathers.  Lew Ford still leads the circuit in hitting, and as noted, Ford, Griffin and Lyons lead the league in RBI.  Delta Cleary Jr. now has enough at-bats to qualify for 3rd in the circuit with a .323 average.

On the mound, John Brownell tops the league in strikeouts and is second in wins, while Mickey Jannis leads the circuit in ERA.

4th of July Weekend Showdown: T-Minus 11 Games

Despite losing 3.5 games in the standings to the Ducks since June 1st, the Somerset Patriots continue to set the pace in the Liberty Division race.  They are 8-2 in their last 10 games.  With yet another victory over the Sugar Land Skeeters on Sunday, Somerset became the first Atlantic League team to reach 40 victories this season, and thus retained their diminishing 1.5 game advantage over Long Island.

After Monday night's series finale against Bridgeport, the Ducks will migrate westward to Sugar Land, Texas, where they'll engage the Skeeters in a crucial 6-game series.  After which, they'll return home to host the Lancaster Barnstormers.

The Somerset Patriots will close out their series with Sugar Land Monday night, then travel to Lancaster to play the Barnstormers beginning Tuesday.  They'll return home to host the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs then head down the turnpike to visit the Camden Riversharks.

On Friday, July 3rd, the Somerset Patriots and Long island Ducks will open a 3-game series at Bethpage Ballpark that seemingly will determine the season's first-half Liberty Division champ.


N.Y. Yankees: A-Rod proves Steroid Era still has plenty of juice left

From the desk of:  BLAME CARLOS MAY

3,002 Hits; #28 all-time
668 Home Runs; #4 all-time
2,009 RBI; #4 all-time

New York Yankees: Alex Rodriguez going through Baseball's milestones like Godzilla through Tokyo.

I am now inside of my 5th decade watching Major League Baseball.  I started at the tail end of the Swinging A's dynasty, and the beginning of the Big Red Machine era.

On the darker side of things, I watched narcotic drugs pollute the game and free agency dismember teams throughout the 1970's and 1980's.  Then I watched steroids become the drug of choice by the 1990's, which then joined forces with HGH by turn of the millennium.

The phrase of a new century = performance enhancing drugs.

If pressed to put an actual date on Day One of the steroids era, I'd start the clock somewhere near 1988 (+/-), or, with the birth of Oakland's Bash Brothers.  Some might chose an even earlier reference and bring Bo Jackson back into the conversation.  For me, however, 1988 works just fine.

By my timeline that means we're 27 years into this crap, or, three decades rounded off.


Over that span, Baseball lost an entire generation (Gen-Y to be exact) because they sold out to TV networks whom effectively tuned out kids, as well as many adults with younger kids and regular work hours.  

Moreover, the game as a whole permitted certain performance enhancing junkies to lay Baseball's most hallowed and sacred records to waste.  The problem is not, and will never be, in breaking records, so much as they were blatantly disrespected, desecrated, and destroyed, by self-centered, self-indulgent, and ultimately self-destructive people.  In any event, their direct impact and collateral damage can not be undone.

My Father had a saying for these people - they have no blood in their faces.

  • Look no further than bleached face Scammin' Sammy Sosa - I only use a corked bat during batting practice, and soon after making tourism TV commercials for Dominican Republic in perfect English, mysteriously forgot the language in time for his gig with Congress.  !Aye caramba!
  • How about the defiant finger waiver, Rafael Palmeiro, whom tested hot shortly thereafter, and said he thought Miguel Tejada gave him a B-12 shot?  Baltimore was going dedicate a street named after him.  Now, his reputation is in the gutter and his name is Mud.
  • Talk about a lack of blood in your face - how about the blatant lie carried out by Andro-Man > the audacity of the Maris Family hugging fraudster Mark McGwire?   
  • That leads us to Mr. Personality, Barroid Bonds, who in his jealousy of McGwire and Sosa turned his own head into a Mardi Gras float, and testified he thought he was using flax seed oil, and even has a guy doing time in jail to ensure files and corresponding codes from Victor Conte's BALCO Labs investigation never get revealed...
  • ...And c'mon!  Roger Clemens let some dude shoot his wife in the butt with steroids in his own kitchen, but didn't do any himself?  Right!  Only problem is, Andy Pettitte testified Roger Clemens really did.  I guess Roger is the one whom, misremembers.

They are just some of the vandals generally considered to have inflicted the most damage upon Baseball's cherished record books.

Place blame with MLB's dysfunction starting with the 1990's, featuring a cancellation of the World Series, consolidating the American League and National League offices under MLB, the extinction of the Montreal Expos, the related and no less shady 3-card monte deal involving Jeff Loria, John Henry, the Red Sox, Marlins, and the devil..., and the theft Baltimore is still allowed to perpetrate from the Washington Nationals' wallet.

I digress.

Thank Bud Selig's blind eye (on behalf of the owners) towards steroids.  He failed to act in a timely manner, and certainly failed to act in the best interest of baseball by neither pressuring or challenging the Player's Union with reasonable suspicion.

In the same breath, thank Donald Fehr's (head of the Player's Association) unwavering refusal to negotiate PED testing into the collective bargaining agreement.  

Otherwise, the collective chase for the almighty dollar (for owners, MLB, players, agents and the Union alike) ruled the day, which made performance/ATTENDANCE enhancing drugs not only okay, but seemingly the preferred method of operation.

Then along came A-Rod, or, the player formerly known as Alex Rodriguez.

Repeat offender, lies, text messaging regarding his Food (the food dummy!), and of course, money...   ... Rodriguez is, in effect, the face of both worlds - PED usage, and incomprehensible salaries.

I feel fortunate to have watched the last three seasons ('74-'76) of Hank Aaron's career.  On a level equal to that of Barry Bonds, mentioning Alex Rodriguez in the same sentence with Hammerin' Hank is a travesty.  That's my opinion as an adult, a Gen X'er, and I'm sure the young boy who fell in love with baseball in the mid-70's would agree.

I don't blame Alex though.  I believe in doing wrong, accepting your punishment, then moving on and staying on the straight and narrow.  To a man, I respect that.  Problem is, we're talking about baseball, and baseball players, and teams who's fans guard them like some sanctimonious public trust.

Alex Rodriguez has been the recipient a lot of love this season.  If we are strictly talking about 2015, he's earned it.  But, reading baseball's all-time lists now strain my eyes, not because I'm getting old, but because the newer names I read on them make it so.

What's done is done, but far from over.

On Saturday, A-Rod went 2 for 3 against Detroit, with a home run and 5 RBI.  He now has 14 home runs and 40 RBI this season.

Pretty astonishing stuff..., on many levels.


Friday, June 19, 2015

Brooklyn Cyclones Open 15th Season in Staten Island


Brooklyn Cyclones BBC

BROOKLYN CYCLONES: The Baby Bums are Back for the 15th Summer of Baseball by the Boardwalk.

The 2014 Brooklyn Cyclones finished the regular season with a fine 42-34 record, 4 games back of the McNamara Division winning Hudson Valley Renegades.

Despite posting an identical record as the Connecticut Tigers, Brooklyn additionally missed out on a Wild Card opportunity to the Stedler Division runner-ups.

The season was nonetheless an improvement over their 2013 season, in which they posted a more pedestrian 38-37 record.

In 2012, the Cyclones also fell short in the division race to the Hudson Valley Renegades, and as Wild Card qualifiers were eliminated from the post-season by their upstate neighbors as well.

So what do the 2015 Brooklyn Cyclones have in store?

Manager Tom Gamboa returns for a second season at the helm, and will be rejoined by pitching coach Dave LaRoche, and hitting coach Yunir Garcia.

The Mets relinquished their #1 draft pick when they signed free agent Michael Cuddyer during the off-season.  Their first selection in the recent June amateur draft came in the 2nd round.  With the 53rd overall selection the Mets drafted outfielder Desmond Lindsay, and in the 3rd round with the 88th overall selection they drafted southpaw pitcher Max Wotell.  Both remain unsigned.  In fact, the Mets' top five selections remained unsigned.

The Mets presently have just three players signed from the recent amateur June draft.  They will begin the season with Brooklyn.  The highest pick among them is 7th round pick right handed pitcher Corey Taylor.  Southpaw pitcher P.J. Conlon was selected in the 13th round, and infielder Vinny Siena was taken in the 14th round.  All three signed on Thursday.


The rest of the 2015 Brooklyn Cyclones will be populated with returning players from last season, and promoted players from the rookie class Gulf Coast League Mets and Kingsport Mets of the Appalachian League.

Brooklyn has 5 infielders returning from last year's squad: Will Fulmer, Jeff Diehl, and Michael Katz all put in a half-season for the Cyclones in 2014.  Pedro Perez has played in 19 games with Savannah this season, but is slated to be on Brooklyn's opening day roster.  Same goes for Alfredo Reyes, whom despite a brief cup of coffee with Port St. Lucie this season, will return to Coney Island as well.

First baseman Zach Mathieu is a first-timer to Brooklyn.  He posted 29 RBI in 152 at-bats for Kingsport last season.

Returning for another tour in Brooklyn are outfielders Michael Bernal and Tucker Tharp.  They will be joined by Enmanuel Zabala from the GCL, and Oswald Carabello from Kingsport.

Behind the dish will be Jose Garcia up from Kingsport, and Manuel Hilario from the GCL Mets.

Staten Island Yankees
Rotten Island

The Battle of the Boroughs resumes!

Right-hander Tyler Badamo will climb the hill in Staten Island Friday evening against the Richmond County Bombers, opening the 15th Brooklyn Cyclones season.  Badamo, 22, hails out of Mount Sinai, N.Y.  Last year was his first as a pro.  He made 10 appearances (4 starts) for the GCL Mets, and posted a 1.74 ERA in 31 innings pitched, with a 7.5 K/9 and 1.7 W/9 average.

The Cyclones and Baby Bombers will play a 3-game weekend series.  Brooklyn will play their home opener at MCU Park on Saturday, then return to Staten Island for the series finale on Sunday.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

L.I. Ducks: The Flock's Waddle is Strong

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

1) Somerset        37-16
2) Long Island   35-17

Long Island Ducks: Flock swat Sugar Land Skeeters to gain their latest series sweep; improve record to 16-1 in June.

The Long Island Ducks remain the Atlantic League's hottest team.

With Thursday night's victory over the Sugar Land Skeeters, the Flock completed their third series sweep in their last four, extended their most recent winning streak to 6 games, and improved their record to 16-1 in June after opening the month with a 10-game winning streak.

On June 1st, the Ducks lay 5 games back of the Liberty Division leading Somerset Patriots.  By close of business Thursday, Long Island cut Somerset's lead to just 1.5 games.  There are just 18 games remaining in the season's first half, and the teams are just 15 games away from what could prove to be a decisive head-to-head showdown for the first half crown.

Despite the Ducks torrid month of June, the Somerset Patriots have remained no less relentless.  They are 7-3 in their last 10 games, and 13-5 in June.  They just split 4 games with the Bridgeport Bluefish, and still lead the circuit with a 37-16 record.

Long Island will now host the Bridgeport Bluefish, whom given the Ducks quite a bit of trouble this season.  The Bluefish lead the season series by a 6-4 margin.  The Ducks were swept in their first meeting, and the Bluefish took 2 of 3 games in their second encounter.  Last weekend, the Ducks rebounded after losing the series opener to sweep the final 3 games.  On Friday they open a 4 game series at Bethpage Ballpark.

The Patriots will open a weekend series against the Sugar Land Skeeters in Somerset.

Ducks win series over Skeeters 3-0
I - LID 4; SLS 1
II - LID 3; SLS 1
III - LID 2; SLS 0

Mickey Jannis toed the rubber Thursday night for Long Island, and was opposed by Sugar Land's Roy Merritt.  The two dueled for 7 innings.

Jannis faced 24 batters and threw 94 pitches, with 55 going for strikes.  He allowed no runs on just 3 hits, walked 3 and fanned 5 batters before exiting on the winning side of a 2-0 game.

Merritt faced 25 batters and threw 91 pitches with 62 going for strikes.  Ducks DH Randy Ruiz hit Merritt's only mistake of the evening over the left field wall to give the Ducks their 2-0 margin of victory.   Lew Ford, who previously singled, scored.  Merritt otherwise limited the Ducks to 5 hits, walked none, and fanned 3 batters.

Mickey Jannis improved his record to 5-2, lowered his league leading ERA to a 1.31 mark, and now boasts the league's lowest (.183) batting average against.  He is also 4th in the league behind his team mate John Brownell with 49 strikeouts in 68.1 innings pitched, and owns a .950 WHiP.

Randy Ruiz's double in the second game of Wednesday's double-header proved to be the game winning RBI, as did his 2-run clout on Thursday.

Delta Cleary Jr., has batted lead-off the last 2 games, while Bryan Sabatella nurses a leg injury incurred during the first game of Wednesday's double-header against the Skeeters.  He went 3 for 4 in Wednesday's first game while batting the second slot, but went 0 for 7 in 2 games batting lead-off and watched his average dip from .339 to a .319 mark.

Lew Ford, however, is tied for the league lead with a .340 average, and still leads the circuit with 44 RBI.  First baseman Jon Griffin remains right behind him with 36 RBI.

Dan Lyons went 3 for 7 with 3 RBI in 3 games against the Skeeters.  He is now 6th in the league with 26 RBI, and kept his average hovering at the .300 mark.

On the mound, pitcher Andrew Barbosa continues providing the Ducks with high quality starts.  He started in Wednesday's first game of a double-header, pitched 6 innings, allowed no runs on just 3 hits, walked 3 and fanned 7 batters en route to his 3rd victory of the season.  He is 3-0 since joining Long Island with a 1.96 ERA.  Moreover, the Ducks are 6-0 in games he pitched.

Closer Ryan Kussmaul earned a save in each Long Island's 3 victories over Sugar Land, which included a pair during Wednesday's double-header.  He has a 2-0 record with a 2.03 ERA, and a league leading 16 saves.  He has struck out 23 batters in 26.2 innings pitched.

The Ducks offense have scored the most runs in the Atlantic League to date.  They also own the league's best team slash with a .279/.349/. 384 mark, and have stolen the most bases.

On the mound, Somerset and Long Island are running first and second in team ERA, batting average against, slugging against, and team WHiP.  However, Patriots pitchers have tossed 5 complete games, while the Ducks have tossed none.


N.Y. Mets: Nelson Doubleday Restored NYC's National League Tradition

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

Nelson Doubleday Jr.

New York Mets

NEW YORK METS: Nelson Doubleday Jr. Helped Restore New York City's National League Baseball Crown.

One of the very few, and very best owners of the New York Metropolitan Baseball Club passed away at his home in N.Y. Wednesday at age 81 of pneumonia.

Nelson Doubleday used his family's publishing empire to form Doubleday and Company with the purpose of purchasing the Mets from the late Mrs. Joan Payson's estate.  Nelson put up 80% of the $21.1 million to purchase the Mets.

He was a hands-off type, but his presence resonated throughout the organization.

The club enjoyed their greatest prosperity while Mr. Doubleday presided.  He took over a perennially last place club in 1980, and hired Frank Cashen as general manager whom turned them into a 90-win club by the 1984 season.

By 1986 the Mets were World Series champions, and in 1988 won their second division title in three years.  They returned to the playoffs in 1999, and won the National League championship in 2000.

His relationship with Fred Wilpon grew to a 50/50 partnership, then deteriorated, and ultimately dissolved by the end of 2002.  After 22-years as co-owner of the Mets, Nelson Doubleday sold his half share in the team to his former partner.

Nelson Doubleday was instrumental in initially acquiring catcher Mike Piazza, then retaining him with a strong financial commitment.  Doubleday was also in favor of renovating Shea Stadium over Fred Wilpon's preference to build Citi Field.

I personally started my teenage years in 1980, and so Nelson Doubleday was somewhat of a savior.   The team was obviously mired in a very bad condition, and quite incapable of reorganizing after the passing away of Mrs. Joan Payson.

Under Nelson Doubleday, National League baseball once again ruled New York City.


Friday, June 12, 2015

The Friday Recap: Colon Wins 9th, and Flores Hits 10th in 5-3 Win Over Braves

Here's my Friday Recap for 

Friday Night Final:
Braves   3
METS   5

Check in every week for my
Friday Night Recap

senior staff writer/Rising Apple

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

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Bridgeport leads Ferry Cup Series 6-1
I - BPT 10; LID 2
II - BPT 9; LID 0
III - BPT 7; LID 6
IV - LID 5; BPT 2
V - BPT 7; LID 3
VI - BPT 9; LID 7
VII - BPT 3; LID 2
VIII - Friday Night

Long Island Ducks: Bridgeport Continues Giving Flock the Bunker Fish Treatment.

Not hear; not tonight; the Bluefish said ten was enough.

After sweeping a pair of four game series from the Camden Riversharks and Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, the Long Island Ducks had their league high 10 game winning streak snapped by the Bluefish Thursday night at the Ballpark at Harbor Yards.

A costly error by Lew Ford in the 5th inning of Thursday's series opener provided Bridgeport's margin of victory.

Not incidentally, it was Lew Ford who opened the scoring with an RBI single in the 1st.  Reegie Corona then scored on DH Randy Ruiz's ground ball to give the Ducks an early 2-0 lead.

Bridgeport got on the board in the bottom of the 3rd.  A lead-off single by shortstop Matt Wessinger off Ducks starter Ian Marshall, and a 1-out single by third sacker Sean Burroughs set up right fielder Welington Dotel's RBI sac-fly.  In the 4th, second baseman Luis Rodriguez led-off with a double off Marshall, and shortly scored on left fielder Jake Luce's ground ball put-out, tying the game at two.

In the fateful 5th, first baseman John Alonso stroked a 1-out single of Marshall.  With 2-outs, Lew Ford misplayed DH Frazier Hall's hit for a 2-base error.  Alonso scored the go ahead, and inevitably the winning run on the play.

Starting pitcher Ian Marshal battled himself over 6.2 innings pitched walking 6 batters, but otherwise allowed a pair of earned runs on 4 hits with 5 strikeouts.  He now owns a 3-2 record in 8 starts, with a 2.54 ERA (10th in the Atlantic League).

The Ducks fell to the Bluefish for the 6th time in 7 meetings this season.

With Thursday's victory, the 3rd place Bluefish improved their record to a 19-26 mark.  They've scored the 2nd least runs in the Atlantic League this season, yet are 2nd in team batting and feature 10 of the league's top 10 hitters.

They especially love hitting against the Ducks.  In their 7 games thus far, the Bluefish have nearly doubled Long Island's output, outscoring them by a 47-25 margin, or, 6.7 runs per game against just 3.5 runs per game for the Ducks.

Bridgeport's staff owns the league's 3rd worst ERA, and the 2nd worst WHiP.  Just don't tell the Ducks.  In 3 of their 7 losses against the Fish, Long Island was shut out once and held to just 2 runs on two other occasions, including Thursday's game.

This all means the Ducks had better get the Bluefish figured out, and quick.  Long Island has 7 more games remaining against Bridgeport prior to what's shaping up as their first-half ending showdown against Somerset over the 4th of July weekend.

Long Island's 10 game winning streak nevertheless cut the Somerset Patriots lead to just 2.5 games (down from 5 games back) in the standings.  However, Somerset defeated the Barnstormers Thursday night to reset their division lead at 3 games over the Ducks.


Lew Ford still leads the Atlantic League with 16 doubles and 39 RBI.  He's 3rd with a .511 slugging mark, 4th with a .324 batting average, and 5th with a .403 OBP.   Jon Griffin is 2nd behind Ford with 36 RBI, and is 2nd in the league with 8 home runs.  Ford and Griffin are the only two league players to surpass 30 RBI so far this season.

Setting the table for them is lead-off batter Bryan Sabatella.  He tops the the league with 200 at-bats, 61 hits, 39 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases.  He presently sports a .305 average and .359 OBP.


Monday, June 08, 2015

N.Y. Mets: The Night Flight Podcast and the 2012 Brooklyn Cyclones

Here's some of my latest STUFF for 

Monday Night Baseball

Podcast: Monday, June 8
guests: Gary Mintz from the N.Y. Giants Baseball Preservation Society, Gary Mac from MetsMusings.com, and Sam, aka, the converted Met fan.

The six/five man starting rotation, Michael Cuddyer draft day remorse, split series in Arizona, preview of S.F. Giants series, the 2006 New York Mets season, the New York Giants baseball club, Coogan's Bluff, Mrs. Joan Payson, Californication... and other stuff. 

Monday's article:

senior staff writer/Rising Apple

Saturday, June 06, 2015

N.Y. Mets: The Friday Recap - DBacks Sink Fangs Into Jon Niese and Bullpen

Here's my Friday night game recap for 

This time, it wasn't Jon Niese's fault..., kinda.


Check in every week for my
Friday Night Recap

senior staff writer/Rising Apple

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Rising Apple Podcast: Episode #105 - Still Hangin' Around...

For your listening enjoyment, or just for the Mets fan in you, 
here's Thursday night's podcast at

Among the many topics Rich and I discussed:
the 6-man rotation,
an infield illogically playing out of position,
David Wright,
Prospect Wuilmer Becerra,
a look back the 2005 season,
players who've worn #5 throughout Mets history, 
and of course,
Happy Harvey Day!

senior staff writer/Rising Apple

N.Y. Mets: Amazin's conclude first third of season with a failure to seize the day

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

NEW YORK METS: The Mets will be playing very meaningful games in June.

The Mets lost 2 of 3 against the San Diego Padres, lowering their record to 29-25, with an 8-17 road mark, and a stellar 21-8 record at home.

With Game #54 in the books, so ends the first third of the New York Mets season.

Despite a long list of key injuries they still have yet to recover from, the Mets ended play on June 3rd one half game behind the first place Washington Nationals.

After posting a 77-85 record in 2014, new San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller launched a furious effort aimed at chasing down and overtaking the Giants and Dodgers.  The Padres were the easy winners of the off-season with the acquisitions of Matt Kemp, James Shields, Will Myers, Justin Upton, Will Middlebrooks, Brandon Morrow, Josh Johnson, and a few others.  His white hot Winter efforts, however, have yet to produce a .500 record on the field.

San Diego inched closer though.  With the successful conclusion of their series against the Mets, the Padres improved their record to a 27-28 mark.

They still trail the Dodgers and Giants by a hand full of games, however, unless something changes over the summer months, the Padres will become the latest club to attempt a rebuilding all in one off-season, and fail.

New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has taken a much more (painfully) methodical approach in his rebuilding efforts.  While losing 2 of 3 to San Diego offers little proof, Alderson is garnering better on-field results than his San Diego counterpart, and appears better armed for future contention as well.

On that note, the Mets implemented their new 6-man rotation Wednesday, which obviously did not start well.  Dillon Gee took the mound for the first time since May 3rd, and allowed 4 earned runs in 4 innings pitched.

On this night, the Mets also failed to overtake the faltering Nationals in the standings.  They will sleep this evening still trailing Washington by one half-game.

As David Wright's return to action becomes murkier by the day, Sandy Alderson seems to be gearing up to strike a deal.  Acquiring a second baseman, shortstop, or third baseman are all options.

A proactive approach is most certainly warranted.


Wednesday, June 03, 2015

L.I. Ducks: The Wednesday Swim; Battle of the ERA Kings

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Ben Franklin Bridge Park 

Long Island Ducks: Somerset's Sean Bierman and the Flock's Mickey Jannis continue tossing gems; both lead Atlantic League with top ERA's.

After closing out the York Revolution on Tuesday, the Ducks packed their bags, locked up the Pond, and headed south to Camden, New Jersey, in preparation for Thursday's start of their 4-game week ending series against the Riversharks.

The Somerset Patriots, however, were far from idle.  On Wednesday, they increased their lead over the 2nd place Ducks to 5.5 games with a victory over the struggling, nonetheless defending Atlantic League champion Lancaster Barnstormers.

Lancaster starter Matt Packer pitched well enough to win on any other night, just not this particular night against the Patriots.  Packer lasted 7 innings, and allowed just one earned run on 5 hits and a walk, with 4 strikeouts.  He left the game on the losing side of a 1-0 game.

That's because in the bottom of the 2nd, who else but Chris Marrero led-off with a single, and soon came around to score on Robert Andino's 1-out RBI single for the game's only run.

In his last start, southpaw Sean Bierman dueled Long Island's Mickey Jannis.  Sean pitched 8 shut out innings, allowed 6 hits, walked one and fanned 4 batters, but exited to a no-decision as it took the Patriots 12 innings to gain a 1-0 victory.  Jannis pitched brilliantly as well, matching Bierman inning for inning.  He allowed no runs on just 3 hits, walked none and fanned 8 batters before likewise exiting to a no-decision.

  • On Tuesday, Mickey Jannis brought the Ducks to within 5 games of the Patriots with 7.2 innings of no-hit baseball and 9 strikeouts en route to a 3-0 victory over the York Revolution.

In Wednesday's start against the Barnstormers, Somerset's Sean Bierman (indirectly) demonstrated to Long Island just how tough their quest of toppling the Patriots will be.  Bierman tossed a 3-hit, complete game shutout, while issuing just one walk.

Bierman lowered his ERA to a league leading 1.46 mark.  Mickey Jannis owns the league's 2nd best mark with a 1.55 ERA.

The Patriots 1-0 win over Lancaster stretched their lead over Long Island back to 5.5 games, with 32 first half games remaining on the schedule.


L.I. Ducks: Mickey Jannis Tosses One-Hitter Over York

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Long Island Ducks: Mickey Jannis Loses No-Hit Bid After 7.2 Innings Pitched; Flock Win Rubber Game Over York.

On an atypically dank night for June baseball, Long Island Ducks right hand starter Mickey Jannis toed the rubber at Bethpage Ballpark in Tuesday's rubber game against the York Revolution.

The Ducks needed a win in order to keep pace with Somerset, whom won earlier in the day to extended their 1st place lead over Long Island by 5.5 games.

The Ducks promptly gave knuckle-baller Jannis a 3-0 lead in the 1st inning with help from opposing starter Rommie Lewis, whom walked in 3 straight runs with the bases loaded.  He issued 5 walks overall and 4 hits before being relieved after 5 innings

Meanwhile, Mickey Jannis enjoyed a far better experience.  He allowed no runs and no hits over his first 6 innings pitched, issued 3 walks and fanned 7 batters.  He walked 2 in the opening frame and another in the 2nd, then gained control, and struck out the side in the 5th.

Jannis walked his 4th batter in the top of the 7th, but remained untouched for a hit after 25 batters faced.

Mickey returned to the hill for the 8th inning already having exceeded 105 pitches for the night.

He quickly fanned York's first batter, third baseman Steve Proscia, to tie his season high of 8 strikeouts.  Next, number nine hitter and center fielder Sean Smith drew the 5th walk issued by Jannis.  Back to the top of the order, right fielder Shannon Wilkerson popped out foul to first baseman Jon Griffin.  Ironically, shortstop Wilson Valdez then grounded a weak tapper to short that left Dan Lyons little chance for throwing out the speedy Valdez.  Unfortunately, he indeed legged out an infield hit to spoil Mickey Jannis' no-hit bid.

Jannis then fanned his 9th and final batter of the evening to establish a season high.  He departed on the winning side of a 3-0 game, after having faced 30 batters, and tossing a stellar mix of 134 pitches, of which 84 (63%) went for strikes.

  • Mickey Jannis is now 3-2 and leads the Atlantic League with a 1.55 ERA and a .189 BAA.  He is 4th with 38 strikeouts in 46.1 innings pitched, and owns a 0.970 WHiP.

Ryan Kussmaul entered the game to close out the 9th in relief of Jannis, and earned his league leading 10th save of the season.

The victory gives the Ducks a series win over York, lifts their record to 21-16, and gets them back to within 5 games of the 1st place Patriots, whom won Tuesday over Bridgeport.

Long Island has 32 games left with which to close the gap with Somerset before the first half expires.


Tuesday, June 02, 2015

L.I. Ducks: Keeping Pace With Somerset Proving Difficult

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

Series tied 1-1
I - YRK 4; LID 3; 15 inn
II - LID 4; YRK 3; 11 inn

York Revolution
Long Island Ducks
Suffolk County Grounds

Long Island Ducks: Jon Griffin Enters June Wielding a Lethal Bat.

Weather permitting, the Ducks host the Revolution for the rubber game of their series this evening.

In each of the first two games, extra innings were required to extract victory.

On Sunday, the Ducks followed up the previous day's victory over Somerset with a game they let slip away.  Ahead 3-1 after 4 innings of play, the Revs tied the game in the 6th off starter Ian Marshall.

The game remain deadlocked at three for the next 8 innings.  Then, leading off the top of the 15th inning, York center fielder Sean Smith promptly homered off Mark Rogers.  Long Island went down in order in the bottom of the frame to close out a crushing defeat.

On Monday, the Ducks found themselves on the winning side of an identical 4-3 final.

Once again, Long Island jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the 1st inning.  After a 1-out single by Delta Cleary Jr, followed a 1-out single with a steal of second, then scored on Cody Puckett's RBI single.  Jon Griffin followed with his 7th home run of the season, Puckett scored.

Starter John Brownell retired his first 6 batters, and kept York scoreless through his first 4 innings.   In the 5th, the Revolution scored a pair on 3 hits and a walk.  In the 6th, an E-3 by Jon Griffin paved the way for another York (unearned) run, and a tie game.

For a second straight game, York and Long Island went into extra innings.

After 7 innings pitched, John Brownell exited to a no decision.  He faced 31 batters, and threw 125 pitches with 73 going for strikes.  He allowed 3 runs (2 earned) on 6 hits and 2 walks, with 7 strikeouts.  He leads the circuit with 47 strikeouts.

Blake Davis played shortstop on this night, and led-off the home 11th with a hit.  Mike Blanke sacrificed him 90' to second.  Prentice Redman's base hit then plated Davis for the winning run.

The bullpen combined on 4 innings, no hits, and 6 strikeouts.  Nick Struck earned the win in relief.

Center fielder Delta Cleary Jr. went 4 for 4 with a double, lifting his average to a .333 mark.  Since his arrival, he is 18 for 54 with 6 doubles and 6 stolen bases.

Wielding a Lethal Bat: Jon Griffin

In April, the Ducks opened the season against York, then played a 4-game series against Southern Maryland.  During those 7 games, Jon Griffin went 4 for 24 (.167), with a home run, 6 RBI, and struck out (9) 37% of the time.

On May 13th, Griffin finally broke through the Mendoza Line.  In his 17 games since, Jon has gone 23 for 67 (.343), with 5 home runs and 16 RBI, and cut his strikeouts to (19) 28% of the time.

In his last 3 games, he's 4 for 11 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI.  In 35 total games played and 134 at-bats, Jon Griffin is now slashing .269/.347/.463, with 5 doubles, 7 home runs and 25 RBI.

Patriots Keep Setting the Pace:

Somerset still leads the league with a 26-11 record.  Since their meeting against the Ducks, they have gone 3-0, which includes an early game and a rain cancellation on Tuesday.

With Monday's victory, the Ducks are now one of three teams to reach 20 victories, however, they enter this evening's game trailing the Patriots by 5.5 games.

After Tuesday, the Ducks will have 32 games games left remaining to close the gap with Somerset.

Yeah, about that division realignment...,

Welcome to year two.


N.Y. Rangers: There's a Canadian Goalie in King Henrik's Court


NEW YORK RANGERS: If Mike Ritcher needed The Messiah, what can Glen Sather possibly offer The King?

The Rangers season is over.  At least three generations of Rangers fans will pass the summer months wrestling through a full gambit of emotions, only to return in October still shaking their collective heads over what transpired, (or didn't) in Game Seven against Tampa.

Two years into a new system, the organization is once again at a crucible.

I agree with Coach Vigneault, and with the general consensus of the players: to use their words, I believe this team still has a championship core.

For how much longer is debatable.

The Rangers must nevertheless take stock after falling short in the 2012 conference finals against the Devils, in the 2013 semi finals against the Bruins, in last season's Stanley Cup finals against the Kings, and this year's conference finals against the Lightning.

Henrik Lundqvist

Placing blame on Henrik for any of the Rangers' failures is not only misguided, but ignorant as well.

We'd have to weed through the recurring defensive breakdowns in front of him, the team's ponderous neutral zone neutrality, their physical inhibitions in the offensive zone, and revisit the decision making process of a certain head coach before even contemplating pointing a finger at Lundqvist.

Since the salary cap era started in 2005, there's been a range of very good, to rather extraneous goalies that helped their teams win a Cup.  Count Cam Ward/Martin Gerber, Marc Andre Fleury, Chris Osgood/Dominik Hasek, Jean Sebastien Giguere/Ilya Bryzgalov among them.

In each of the Rangers last four post-season eliminations, Henrik Lundqvist was opposed by Martin Brodeur, Tuukka Rask, Jonathan Quick, and Ben Bishop - again, very good to pedestrian...

The other two goalies in this year's Final Four were Frederik Andersen of the Ducks, and Corey Crawford of the Blackhawks, whom merely add to the hodgepodge without enhancing it.

You can rank all those goalies any way you chose.  It makes no difference to me, because in my opinion Henrik Lundqvist has never been an issue.  Henrik was/is as good, if not better than any one of his contemporaries.

Maybe that's just partisan Rangers bluster on my part, or maybe not.  Regardless, my point remains.   The King can hang with anybody, and so I suggest we seek elsewhere to uncover why this team keeps falling short of the Cup.

  • My ire lies with the team's forwards, my issue is with the team's softness, and my specific problem with Game 7 was Coach's failure to properly adapt.  Therefore, I view elimination as a failure on the Rangers part, more than a Lightning victory.

However, the Cam Talbot led proletariat are getting restless, and making themselves heard.  They're enraged by Ben Bishop's two shutouts and three victories at MSG, which goes in hand with Henrik's perceived failure to defend their house.

I'm not in favor of trading Henrik Lundqvist.  In and of itself, retaining him is a no-brainer.  But if you allow yourself to expand your mind, there are reasons why dethroning The King actually makes sense:

  • Cam Talbot becomes the starting goaltender.  Pondering a trade of Lundqvist is only possible with a quality goalie ready to step in.  Take an honest look at Cam's performance and potential, then revisit the record of several goalies who've played on recent Stanley Cup winning teams in order to justify such a downgrade.
  • Time slows for no one.  The King is now 33-years old.  The Rangers can still sell high, and Glen Sather can still potentially plunder a team in exchange for Henrik's services.
  • The Rangers potentially clear up considerable salary cap space - at least short term.  They need to come up with more money for Derek Stepan...again, figure out what to do with Carl Hagelin, invest money into the 3rd and 4th lines, etc., or, overspend on another front line scoring threat. They also need to address the 3rd defensive pairing.  You get the picture...
  • Most importantly, if the Rangers trade Henrik to a really crappy team, perhaps they can obtain (or recoup?) a pair of #1 draft picks, or a comparable package of picks.  Trading for prospects shouldn't be ruled out either - Ryan McDonagh, after all, was acquired through a trade.   Any transaction involving Henrik, though, would need to be inspired by theft.  Anything less should prevent Sather from ever agreeing to such a deal.

During Henrik's time, the Rangers tried trading for potential premium forwards, and tried signing others as free agents.  To date, none provided a franchise lifting post-season performance the Rangers have lacked, but not for a lack of money.  By and large, most of Sather's big money acquisitions have just grossly underachieved.

So let's face it, Mark Messier aside, NHL history says the Rangers need to secure a franchise forward like most other NHL teams go about it; they need to draft one with a very (very) high selection, something the Rangers have long lacked.  Unless the Rangers plan on spending a few years in the cellar, drafting will remain relatively inconsequential and middle of the road.

The Rangers have not had a top five draft pick in this new century.  You have to refer back to 1999, when they used the 4th overall pick of the draft to select Pavel Brendel.  He still stands as the Rangers highest ever pick since they won the Stanley Cup in '94.  With the 9th overall pick of the same draft, they selected Jamie Lundmark - hardly franchise altering picks to say the least.

Since then, the highest the Rangers ever picked was 6th overall in the 2004 draft, when they selected goalie Al Montoya (just prior to King Henrik beginning his reign at MSG).

They did not have a #1 pick in the 2000 and 2002 entry drafts, although it was their great fortune to draft Henrik Lundqvist in 2000 with the 205th (7th round) overall selection.  More recently, they failed to own both a #1 and #2 selection in the 2013 draft, and lacked a #1 pick in last year's draft as well.

In the 12 years between 2001 and 2012, the Rangers averaged the 14th overall selection.  Here is a list of their hits, and mostly misses:

2000 - No #1
2001 - Dan Blackburn #10 overall
2002 - No #1
2003 - Hugh Jessiman #12
2004 - Al Montoya #6, Lauri Korpikoski #19
2005 - Marc Staal #12
2006 - Bob Sanguinette #21
2007 - Alexi Cherepanov #17
2008 - Michael Del Zotto #20
2009 - Chris Kreider #19
2010 - DYLAN McILRATH #10
2011 - J.T. Miller #15
2012 - Brady Skjei #28
2013 - No #1, No #2
2014 - No #1

That list is less a product of Glen Sather's scouting department, and has more to do with the Rangers consistently making the playoffs during the salary cap era starting with Tom Renney and through the present time.  Being good, but never good enough, commits you to a vicious cycle of mid-round and otherwise ordinary drafting, or worse (see 2012-2014).

This is not an endorsement to trade Henrik Lundqvist.  The most likely scenario is just the opposite; Glen Sather trades Cam Talbot.  In a perfect world, we keep both.  But, in the new NHL, smart sacrifices must be made for the sake of advancement of the team.

The Rangers have youth, they just happen to be on the team already.  Otherwise there's nothing coming over the horizon that remotely resembles an offensive hero.  Instead, they have Dylan McIlrath, a big tough blueliner whom Alain Vigneault seems to have little use for.

Sometimes you just have to step back, and rethink things.