Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
In February, Darren Meenan started planning an event for his T-shirt company, the7Line.com
, offering fans a a general admission ticket to Mets-Cubs in Wrigley Field with a limited-edition shirt (celebrating the occasion).
This past weekend, Meenan and 505 other members of “The 7 Line Army,” all wearing bright orange t-shirts, waited in line together outside Wrigley, arriving before 10 a.m. to guarantee sitting together. It worked, and it was an amazing sight to see in an away team’s ballpark.
I respect and admire Meenan and every one of these 505 fans — some of who traveled from 17 different states, as well as from England and Guam — because it’s so opposite of my experience as a Mets fan. I grew up 3 hours from Shea Stadium, surrounded by Yankees and Red Sox fans. I knew a total of two Mets fans growing up. To me, being a Mets fan was about taking cover and constantly defending my team, which I mostly watched alone on television.
It’s not much different today, in that I spend the bulk of my time defending my work and obsessing over news and rumors: who said what, what it means, where’s this team headed, did they win or lose, how do things get better, and how do I write about it all on this blog? In the rare event I watch a game with other fans, I barely talk. I’m antsy, nervous, focused on the game and what’s happening. It’s actually why I like going to games alone, or simply watching on TV, because I can’t concentrate when other people are around. This level of focus and borderline obsessive compulsiveness is what has helped grow this blog to 3 million page views each month, but it also builds walls around the experience of being a fan.
On the other hand, “The 7 Line Army” is not about content. It’s’ about community. They seem to love being Mets fans as much as they love the Mets.
“We all want to win, obviously,” Meenan told me on his way back from Chicago. However, he added, “In these times, we realize we need to stick together like a family.”
The Mets lost Saturday in front of Meenan’s Army. Were they disappointed in the loss? Probably, but it didn’t stop them from chanting, “We had fun, we had fun,” at the end of the game. This same attitude (which is neither pro- or anti-team, so much as it’s pro-experience) can also be seen on Twitter in a growing clique of young, passionate and popular fans who talk about their love of the game and support of the players and other fans more than they talk about ownership, wins, losses and roster decisions.
I’m sure this is mind boggling to some Mets fans, who likely cursed the TV after Saturday’s game or took to Twitter or this site’s comment section to demand Terry Collins be fired or Ike Davis be demoted. Meanwhile, disappointed — but likely also gearing up for an afternoon of fun on Clark Street — Meenan and company were greeted in the outfield by Collins and others members of the team saying thank you for traveling to Chicago to support the Mets…
It’s easy to get wrapped up in drama and get bogged down in the misery of a disappointing season. However, hearing of Meenan’s afternoon in Wrigley was a reminder to me that baseball is entertainment and it should be an escape from the day to day grind of life. It’s supposed to be fun. And, I love that — win or lose — The 7 Line Army is having fun. Good for them…
Michael Baron, Contributor
Shaun Marcum pitched a lot better last night than his final line shows, and it appears he’s turned a corner over his last two starts.
Marcum allowed four runs in six innings with a season-high seven strikeouts, three of which came in the first inning and one in the last.
“I made four or five mistakes and they all got hit,” Marcum said after the game. ”104 pitches, five mistakes, I’m OK with that.”
Marcum fell to 0-5 for the season with a 6.59 ERA, though he’s lowered his ERA by two full runs over his last two starts.
Yesterday, he wasn’t helped by Ike Davis’ mental mistake in the first inning, which cost the Mets an extra base and potentially a run.
That’s not to say Marcum wasn’t struggling early in the game, because he was. And he was nibbling around the corners with his cutter and falling behind in the count. However, after the first inning, Marcum got more aggressive with his secondary pitches — especially his cutter and change-up — and he was able to throw them for strikes. He kept the Reds off-balanced in the middle innings, and he was able to pitch to weak contact and get some quick outs.
In his starts earlier this year, Marcum was clearly still building his stamina. He basically had no Spring Training, and he didn’t get much work in his rehab either thanks to relapses with a neck injury. However, he has been a different pitcher of late, throwing higher quality strikes and working with a faster overall tempo. If he continues to pitch like this, the wins should come, assuming he can get some run support and better defense.
The Mets have discussed demoting Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada and Jordany Valdespin, team sources told Andy Martino of the Daily News.
Davis has just one hit in his last 34 plate appearances, during which he has struck out 13 times.
“The game is really built on momentum and confidence,” Davis said. “I just haven’t had a lot of things go right for me for things to take off.”
Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
Tejada is in a terrible slump, but he’s a mostly sound player who probably needs the opportunity to dig himself out. In regards to Valdespin, I’m not sure the argument for sending down a guy who is never given a chance to consistently play anyway…
As for Ike, he ended April and started May making good contact, though his hits feel for mostly singles. Now those balls are being hit right at the opposition, and he’s become a total mess because of it; and on Monday it looked to be infiltrating his defense, as he looked totally confused on the play with Joey Votto at first base.
The Mets can keep stalling, but it’s pretty clear he needs to be demoted soon. I was all for waiting him out, hoping he’d turn things around like he did after a similarly bad start last year. But now this looks totally different. Last year he looked and acted confident, even affable, as if he knew he’d eventually snap back. This year, he looks like a totally different cat. He seems frustrated, distracted and unsure of himself. He looks like a guy who needs a mental break. He needs time in Triple-A, away from the media, away from the fans, away from the question about when he’s going to be better, so he can relax, find his swing get back to being the player needed in this lineup and in the future.
He didn’t hit 32 home runs last year by accident. He’s a talented hitter with great defensive skills. The Mets need to know if he can be that player again, or if they have to add first base to the already-crowded list of positions in need of an upgrade this winter.
Jeremy Hefner was raised in Moore, Okla., which was devastated by a tornado that killed more than 50 people Monday.
Hefner told reporters yesterday that 75 percent of his dad’s family live within five miles of where the tornado hit. He said it took over two hours before Monday night’s game before he knew everybody was safe.
Hefner attended one of the two elementary schools that were severely damaged by the tornado.
Rich Coutinho: What’s going through your mind?
Jeremy Hefner: It’s gut wrenching, it’s saddening and I wish I was there. I wish I could go home right now and help out and do whatever I could to help those families. I wish I would have been there right when it happened, so I could have helped pull kids out. Just sitting here watching the TV, you feel helpless. I might even have known some of those people that were on TV.
Rich Coutinho: How do you get used to something like this?
Jeremy Hefner: If you live in Oklahoma, if you live in Tornado Alley, there’s going to be tornadoes in April and May, parts of June and again in the Fall and then you go through it again. It’s just the way it is. I love it there. And I guarantee you that the people involved, they’re going to rebuild and love Oklahoma they way they always did.
Rich Coutinho: Had you ever been through anything even somewhat like that? What do you look for?
Jeremy Hefner: You have to take cover a lot, get in the cellar and hide out for about 30 minutes or so while the storm passes. But, I’ve never actually been where a tornado was above me.
Rich Coutinho: You’re a spiritual guy, do you tap in to that strength right now?
Jeremy Hefner: That’s about all I can do from here. Pray and send good thoughts, that’s all I can do.
Rich Coutinho has been covering New York sports since 1984, having worked for ABC Radio, WFAN and ESPN New York, among others. He is a special contributor to MetsBlog, and can be found on Twitter here.
The Mets, Phillies and Nationals lost last night, while the Marlins and Braves won.
To read about last night’s loss to Cincinnati, check out this post on MetsBlog, as well as beat reports from MLB.com, the Wall Street Journal, Star-Ledger, Bergen Record, Journal News,ESPN New York, Newsday, the Daily News and New York Post.
The Mets will look to even their series with the Reds tonight at Citi Field, with Jon Niese facing Mike Leake at 7:10 pm.
The Least You Should Know…
Shaun Marcum allowed four runs in six innings, three of which came in the first inning – he is now winless in his first five starts with the Mets.
Marcum allowed a go-ahead home run to Jay Bruce in the sixth inning.
The Mets bullpen combined for three innings of scoreless relief between LaTroy Hawkins, Brandon Lyon, and Greg Burke.
Marlon Byrd hit a three-run home run in the third inning – Byrd now has three home runs and nine RBI in the month of May.
Ike Davis’ struggles continued with a costly error in the first and an 0-for-3 with two strikeouts at the plate.
Lucas Duda had two hits to the opposite field, but was left stranded on both occasions.
The Mets left six men on base, went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position, and only two men reached base after the third inning.
Following tonight’s game, Terry Collins said that sending Ike Davis down is something they have considered as they sit and talk about what’s best for Davis and the team; He also said it’s a bigger factor now because the Mets aren’t playing like they did last year at this time. Collins also stated they are trying to do something consistently with the line-up, because it is uneasy for Major League players to come in each day and not know where they’re hitting.
For a full recap and box score, check out SNY.TV.
Michael Baron, Contributor
Marcum got off to a real slow start tonight, but bounced back nicely and kept the Mets in the game for six innings. Marcum was hurt by boneheaded play by Davis at first base – Davis was called for interference at first base as Joey Votto rounded the bag, and Votto was awarded second base as a result. Marcum couldn’t overcome that error, he ultimately allowed a crooked number and put the Mets behind early. He got more aggressive with his off-speed beginning in the second inning and settled into a nice groove before allowing a solo home run to Bruce in the sixth. Overall, not great, but not terrible for Marcum – he kept the Mets in the game, and that’s all that can be asked after a rough beginning.
It was another game the Mets had their chances, especially early in this game thanks to Johnny Cueto showing no command at all. But outside of really one swing of the bat by Marlon Byrd, the Mets did nothing offensively in general tonight. This struggle by the offense wasn’t unexpected this season, but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch and endure on a daily basis.
As for Ike, when it rains, it pours for him. He cost the Mets with a mental mistake in the first inning, and did nothing at the plate afterwards to make up for it. He had a two-out opportunity in the first inning with the bases loaded, hit the ball hard but did not produce. His night ended after striking out in the bottom of the sixth and Terry Collins double switching him out for Justin Turner. What more can you say at this point? It’s been a horrific season for him so far, and it’s starting to impact his entire game. If he’s not going to be productive on defense, either – which has been the case over the last few days – it’s hard to justify a place for him right now.
The Mets will look to even their series with the Reds tomorrow night at Citi Field, with Jon Niese facing Mike Leake at 7:10 pm.
Zack Wheeler is scheduled to make his return to the Triple-A rotation this Wednesday.
Wheeler received a cortisone shot in the AC joint of his right shoulder at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan last week.
Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
If asked, I’d say Wheeler makes his big-league debut just after June 10, after an off day, in the middle of the team’s nine-game home stand. Earlier this week, I heard the Mets wanted Wheeler to get three or four more starts at Triple-A Las Vegas, to put this shoulder situation behind him, before having him join the big-league rotation. Here, Alderson said two or three. In either case, they’d like him to be pitching well, and be strong. They do not want to promote him just to promote him. They want it to feel like a seamless transition, keeping him on rhythm and healthy.
The point is, his promotion is getting closer than ever… and it’s about time.
The Good: The Mets have won three of their last four games after losing six straight. They begin a span of 10 straight games in New York.
The Mets improved to 6-7 in one-run decisions after yesterday’s win at Chicago. They started the season 1-6 in one-run games.
Daniel Murphy is 14-for-his-last-28 over his last seven games and he currently has an eight-game hitting streak.
The Bad: Mets starting pitchers are 3-7 with a 5.62 ERA this month.
The Game: Shaun Marcum starts for the Mets tonight. Marcum has received a loss in his first four decisions, and four of his first five appearances. He recorded his first quality start of the year against the Cardinals during his last start.
New York Mets
- Daniel Murphy – 2B
- Rick Ankiel – CF
- David Wright – 3B
- Lucas Duda – LF
- Marlon Byrd – RF
- Ike Davis – 1B
- John Buck – C
- Ruben Tejada – SS
- Shaun Marcum – RHP
- Shin-Soo Choo – CF
- Cesar Izturis – SS
- Joey Votto – 1B
- Brandon Phillips – 2B
- Jay Bruce – RF
- Todd Frazier – 3B
- Xavier Paul – LF
- Ryan Hanigan – C
- Johnny Cueto – RHP
Andrew Vazzano, SNY.tv
Note: The Reds originally sent out the wrong lineup. The lineup above now reflects the correct lineup, with Shin-Soo Choo starting in CF and leading off.
Maggie Wiggin, Contributor
Though the team is stumbling these days, some statistics suggest that the rotation is due for improvement.
Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) is a stat that measures a pitcher’s performance without interference from the fielders around him, using the same scale as ERA (3.00 is good and 5.00 is poor). FIP combines a pitcher’s strikeouts, walks, and home runs, which are the three events he has near-total control over. Because FIP is more stable and a better predictor for future outcomes, we can compare it to current ERA and see if their results will be sustainable for the rest of the season.
- Shaun Marcum (2013 ERA: 6.75, FIP: 3.69) Not surprisingly, Marcum is most likely to show major improvements going forward, with his current ERA nearly three full runs higher than his career ERA (3.83) and and his current FIP. These numbers indicate he’s given up lot of runs due to balls in play, where he has less control over the outcome. His strikeout, walk and home run rates are close to his career numbers, so we should expect Marcum’s results to improve considerably, with his FIP staying close to his career mark of 4.24.
- Dillon Gee (2013 ERA: 6.04, FIP: 5.00): Gee should expect better results going forward, as well. He is also taking a big hit this season from balls in play (like Marcum, he pitches to contact). His current ERA is about 1.5 runs higher than his career ERA and his FIP this year is about half a run higher; so, his ERA is projected to drop as the season progresses. If his HR/9 innings rate trends towards his lower career rate, he’ll likely improve his FIP over the season as well.
- Matt Harvey (2013 ERA: 1.55, FIP: 2.21): Unfortunately, he’s not likely to finish the year with an ERA as ridiculous as 1.55. His FIP agrees, putting his performance at a still-pretty-ridiculous 2.21. Harvey is a FIP fan’s dream — lots of Ks, few walks, even fewer home runs. His ERA is being bolstered by a minuscule batting average on balls in play (.199 BABIP) that will probably increase; but given Harvey’s attitude and general dominance, he may be the kind of rare talent that literally defies the odds.
- Jeremy Hefner (2013 ERA: 5.00, FIP: 5.61): Hefner is not projected to pitch much better or worse than we’re seeing right now. If Hefner’s home runs and walks slow down, which is possible, he should end up somewhere around his career FIP of 4.23. Interestingly, his ERA splits as a starter vs. reliever (6.51 vs. 3.55) are very extreme and also the opposite of his FIP splits (3.95 as a starter vs. 5.46 as a reliever). I have no idea what this means, and small samples abound, but it’s weird.
- Jon Niese (2013 ERA: 5.40, FIP: 5.00): He still could have a strong season, if the defense behind him can tighten up. He shows very little difference between his ERA and FIP, but this doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t see more progress from him. It’s likely that both will decrease as the season wears on. With his uncharacteristically poor strikeout and walk rates expected to improve to near his career rates, he’s projected to finish the year with a FIP close to his career mark of 3.88.
There’s reason to think we will get significant improvements from at least three (four if replacing Hefner with Zack Wheeler counts) of this team’s starting pitchers, despite early season struggles. Now the Mets just need hitters, fielders, and relievers and they’ll be all set.
The Mets have signed righthand pitcher David Aardsma to a minor-league deal.
Aardsma has played parts of seven seasons in the major leagues, with a career 4.22 ERA in 255 games (266.2 innings). He has posted a 1.433 WHIP overall, last appearing with the Yankees last year, appearing in only one inning and allowing a solo home run and one strikeout.
His best seasons cam in 2009 and 2010, where he saved a combined 69 games and posted a 2.90 ERA as the Seattle Mariners closer.
Aardsma had Tommy John surgery in July of 2011. He signed with the Yankees in 2012, who released him in early April of this year. The Miami Marlins signed Aardsma on April 13. They released him last week.
He will report to Triple-A Las Vegas.