Squared Up: Rainout Theater
As much as I love spring baseball, because it's baseball and thank God and can we all please stop talking about stupid college basketball please?, it does rain a lot in the spring, so I get all excited to park it in front of a day game and then it gets rained out. The Mets are underway today as scheduled, but then, it's…the Mets. Heh.
That said, I've seen a few reasons for hope. (Hope for the Mets fan in 2011 is something along the lines of "hey, we might win 70 whole games," so: hunk of salt here.) Last night's game against the Phillies did not fill me with optimism about Mike Pelfrey, but I have found when it comes to Pelfrey that a "happier living through lowered expectations" approach works best, and between Pelf and Ollie, obviously I will take Pelf. (And have to, now, hallelujah Jesus.) And yeah, it's "only" Joe Blanton. But the team didn't roll over; they stayed in it and kept fighting. That isn't an attitude I've gotten used to seeing in the last couple of years — in that situation, Mets teams of '09 and '10 would have looked beleaguered and overmatched, and once a seven-run lead opened up, not much else would have happened. I didn't get that already-beaten sense last night.
But…you know. The team isn't good. The long-overdue punts of Perez and Castillo please me, and on that same tip, I would really like to see Reyes play his ass off in his walk year and get rewarded with a trade out of town. Reyes is a very good player — but he is not a great player; I think he still has head-case qualities; he's not getting any younger, and I worry about recurring problems with his legs; and the team is best served by moving him to a team with pennant hopes in exchange for a barrel of middle-infield and pitching prospects. (Note: he just led off against Halladay with a sharp single, making me an asshole. Thanks, guy!) Previous regimes would have let him overperform, and then overpaid him accordingly for his aging process; let someone else make that mistake this time around. It's not entirely his fault that he's never going to live up to expectations — mostly, it's the expectations. But if another team still cherishes those expectations, let them retire his number. We've got work to do.
A few other thoughts from various sources…
Reader FloridaErin complained recently about the FOX broadcast:
I told my husband I was basically listening to them make verbal love to the Yankees. Which is how I feel anytime I watch a national broadcast of Anyone vs. Yankees, really. They mentioned about 10 times that the Yankees were "underdogs" this year but we shouldn't count them out, yet not a single mention that the Tigers are favored to win the AL Central. Or anything about the race in that division, really. ::twitch::
I don't enjoy defending Buck and McCarver, but I haven't heard a single mention that the Tigers are favored to win the AL Central anywhere else, either. Everyone I read or listen to picked the Twins. I can't say that makes sense to me, mind you; the Twins always do more with less, but I would want to see a few more weeks of Morneau before I call that return complete, and their defense doesn't look so great. That division is a crapshoot, where one team isn't going to do anything because the front office can't find its ass with both hands (Cleveland), another has to wait a couple of years for its prospects to get ready (KC), and then the others could all win 90…or 70. I don't see a clear winner there, so I would have no problem picking Los Tigres — but the fact is, I haven't heard it done anywhere.
I will also say that "Yankees, AL East underdogs" storyline is baffling; I kind of don't get it, and I didn't get it before the season, either, the conventional wisdom that the Red Sox have the best team in baseball. Not that they don't, but maybe it's because a lot of the other teams look like shit? I'm…just saying, and I know it's easy to type that when they've just gone 0-5, but they didn't look that imposing to me before that, either, or not to a degree the Yankees couldn't handle if they hit. And they're hitting well right now. The Posada-at-DH thing does not seem destined to succeed, to me, but the rest of the line-up looks pretty on point so far, the bullpen is doing reasonably well, and nobody is fat and out of shape who isn't usually fat and out of shape, Beckett. I'd like to hear from Boston fans about that presumptive-heir narrative is hitting them, because…okay, but where's the pitching, exactly? Seriously, I'm asking. I'm not putting money on that bullpen.
And on that same note, I hope Phillies fans will forgive me, but I do not find that team as fearsome as I think the press would like me to, either. I don't hate the Phillies like a Mets fan is supposed to, and in fact it's a privilege to get to see that legendary rotation a bunch of times in a year. But unless the "plan" is to CG the rest of the division into submission — and while I could get behind such a plan, Grandpa Charlie better hope nobody gets a blister — I don't think they've got the bullpen to stick it, and Rollins looks old to me. It's not a bad team, but I would not clear my October schedule if I were a Phillies fan, because I think that month will belong to the Braves.
All right, fans of all teams: how ya feelin'? Still full of hope? Already freaking out over a statistically meaningless 5 or 6 games? Think the Mets should get on their knees and beg Maine to come back? (I don't, and the kind of numbers he'll likely put up with the Rockies won't change my mind. Cute; not worth it.) Want to help me and Bean build the Keith Hernandez Booth Drinking Game? Complain about Joe Buck?
It's spring baseball, folks. Everything is either possible, or horrible. Or both! Discuss.
Tags: bad baseball announcing Charlie Manuel Joe Blanton Joe Buck John Maine Jorge Posada Jose Reyes Josh "Andy" Beckett Justin Morneau Keith Hernandez Luis Castillo Mike Pelfrey no offense college-basketball fans Oliver Perez Roy Halladay Tim McCarver