Will NY Mets Take Advantage of a Stanton-less Marlins?

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By Matt Alcalde

Marlins Manager Don Mattingly announced over the weekend that the club slugger, Giancarlo Stanton, had suffered a groin injury and would make a trip to the disabled list. MRI results show he has a grade 3 left groin strain, a far worse diagnosis that will likely end Stanton’s season. Let’s just say, this isn’t the best news for the Marlins, who have held their own under Donnie Baseballs’ helm and are only 0.5 games out of the NL Wild Card.

To put things into perspective, let’s look at the numbers. Out of 381 at bats in 2016, Giancarlo is hitting .241/.329/.496. At 25 home runs, he was on par to mushroom his entire 2015 HR total of 27. And let’s not even mention his OPS…okay, I can’t help myself! His on-base plus slugging is an insane 0.826, 2nd in the Majors. His bat and outfielding will be surely missed by the Marlins…but 1,300 miles North, there’s a sigh of relief coming from Queens.

Giancarlo Stanton has been a complete nightmare for the NY Mets. All their World Series caliber pitching can’t seem to stop him from not just getting on base, but from running down multiple base hits. (Stanton has an OPS of 1.115 against the Mets this year.) 1.115!!! (Yes, I am scream-typing!) His Triple-Slash Line against the Mets is better than his 2016 season numbers (.293/.383/.732). 

So with this in mind, will the Mets be able to take advantage of the Marlins’ loss of their power hitter? My heart wants to say “yes,” but my rational side says, “no.” Mainly because the problems plaguing the Mets are a sum of many parts, not one of which can be resolved by an injury to their divisional rivals. Stacked injuries, a starting rotation that looks otired from a long 2015 season and huge problems with situational hitting – it all looks too much for the Mets to overcome.

But does it help that they won’t be facing Giancarlo for the rest of the season? Sure, why not. As of August 15th, the Mets are 2.5 games out of the NL Wild Card. With seven regular season games against the Marlins, any advantage the Mets are given, they’ll take. The real question will be if they choose to determine their own destiny, or continue to wait for their opponents to announce bad news. 

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Thank You, Mets #UnfinishedBusiness

Source: New York Mets Official Website (http://mets.com/)

Source: New York Mets Official Website (http://mets.com/)

When the Kansas City Royals lost in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series, against the San Francisco Giants, the entire team was locked into the 2015 season and making it back to the World Series. When the New York Mets finished 2014 with a disappointing 79-83 season and a post-season drought of eight years, very few within the team could imagine they’d get to the post-season, let alone the World Series. And that was the deciding factor–a team with World Series dreams vs. a team just looking to finish above .500. And with that, I cannot be more proud of my New York Mets. Because with no expectations, from literally anyone in baseball, the Mets scraped together a team that finished with 90 wins, a National League Pennant and the experience of being in a World Series.

I’m not in the business of blaming individuals whom, at some point in the season, played a huge part in what the Mets achieved this year. I’m really tired of the finger pointing, but at the same time I get it. Fans’ collective patience is minimal in a huge market like New York. We all knew the flaws, and I won’t discredit the team’s accomplishments by naming names. (If you don’t know the people in question by now, chances are you’re a fair-weather fan reading this.) The infielding, defensive weaknesses and lack of discipline in keeping the line moving instead of chasing the long ball–these were the vulnerabilities haunting this team. I’m going to be disappointed for about a week that the Mets didn’t win the World Series and then go back to remembering where they were in July and, finally, be amazed where they ended up. After all, “Ya Gotta Believe.”

There’s much more to talk about in future posts, like what the Mets can do in the off-season to strengthen the team and what we learned about the makeup of this team, including its future potential for a post-season win. For now, let’s just remember the simple fact that the Mets weren’t being groomed for a World Series bid, but they made it there anyway. With a World Series under their belt and a young team that’s ready to make some moves during this long Winter, Mets fans should have nothing but hope for 2016. Let’s Go Mets! And THANK YOU!

Chase Utley’s dirty slide reminds us what not to teach our kids

Source: SNY.tv - METSBLOG

Source: SNY.tv – METSBLOG

Chase Utley’s intent was clear when he “slid” late and aggressively into Ruben Tejada – he wanted to disrupt any chance of a relay throw and break up a double play. His intent is clear because he said as much during a post-game interview. His skewed regard for the MLB guidelines, on how to legally break up a double play, is also clear. Even the consequences of his tackle are crystal clear: Ruben Tejada won’t be playing post-season baseball in 2015, with a fractured right fibula (see video of “the slide heard round the world” below).

What’s not clear is what the umpires and the MLB reviewers in NY were thinking when they overturned the original ruling and called Utley safe. The original call was an out, which is why a downed Tejada didn’t make a tag in the first place – that and the fact he couldn’t even move his right foot. This would mean the original call was in line with the neighborhood play, there to protect an infielder – attempting a double-play, relay throw to first – to not get hurt, like Tejada did. A neighborhood play is not reviewable and that is where it should have ended. Instead, things got weird. The play did end up getting reviewed, which is against the MLB rulebook, because the play was ruled a force throw to first and not a double play. Basically, the MLB NY office reviewing the play decided Tejada couldn’t have made the double play and so the neighborhood play wasn’t valid. Tejada never touched the bag nor tagged Utley. But Utley never touched the base, either. Furthermore, everyone on the field treated it like a double play: from Murphy’s toss to Tejada to Tejada’s attempted relay to first and to Utley’s acknowledged attempt to break up the play. Everyone thought it was a double play…except for the people who apparently matter: someone 3,000 miles away looking at it from a video screen.

Let’s get something straight for the people who are saying, “Quit whining! It’s Baseball.” It is baseball, and a guy’s leg is broken. This isn’t hockey or football or rugby – it is baseball. No one should be getting their legs broken fielding a ball to second. But they do and not because the MLB needs to look at ending aggressive slides into the fielder. The MLB does not need to bring in a new rule; they just have to enforce the rules already in play. We can all agree that there is a human aspect to the umpire calls – a ball is called a strike; a player is called safe running to first base, instead of out; a fair ball is called foul to save a no-hitter. In baseball, rules are made to be broken…not the player’s bones. MLB: enforce runner interference on the double play.

In Chase Utley’s post-game interview, he said, “You’re taught from a young age to try to break up double plays. Pedro Martinez said it best via Twitter:

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There’s a huge difference between an aggressive slide and a blatant attempt to hurt someone. There’s a way to play hard and give it all you got and then there’s this:

Source: NY Daily News

Source: NY Daily News

Let’s agree that as parents and coaches, we won’t teach the next generation of baseball players to win like the Chase Utleys of the world.