Roundtable discussion of the pressing questions facing the NL East teams as we approach the start of the season
1) After a disappointing sophomore campaign, what can we expect of Jason Heyward going forward?
MJ: Jason Heyward had an injury-riddled sophomore season in Atlanta, but there is a lot to like about his chances at a rebound campaign in 2012. His offensive line was deflated by a .260 BABIP, but his peripherals were once again stellar. His 11.6 percent walk rate represented a regression from 2010 but cannot be considered poor, and his .162 ISO likewise dropped from the previous year but did not experience a precipitous fall.
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The BP team gives the players, current or former, that they'd like to see run for office
1) Branch Rickey
Branch Rickey was not a secular saint. He was a baseball man, and there was an element of self-interest in everything he did. “The farm system, which I have been given credit for developing,” Rickey said, “originated from a perfectly selfish motive: saving money.” Even breaking the color line wasn’t totally selfless. “The greatest untapped reservoir of raw material in the history of the game is the black race,” he said. “The Negroes will make us winners for years to come. And for that, I will happily bear being called a bleeding heart and a do-gooder and all that humanitarian rot.” Yet, you can also accuse Abraham Lincoln of being half-assed about emancipation. Even though their motives were not spotlessly clean, even if the results were imperfect, at least they moved in the direction of justice, which, as the Constitution says, is the whole point—to arrive at “a more perfect union.”
Ideology is not very useful; real world problems require nuanced solutions rather than predetermined responses. At the nadir of the Great Depression, presidential candidate Franklin Roosevelt said, “The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it; if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” We don’t have much of that attitude these days, just gridlock based on putting faction above statesmanship and the thin slogans that pass for political philosophy. Give me the cigar-chomping, bowtie-wearing pragmatist who, seeing an opportunity to simultaneously right a wrong and exploit an opportunity, would swear “Judas Priest!” and go about the necessary business of thinking outside of the boundaries set by his supposed peers. And if he wanted to make Leo Durocher his running mate, well, even Ike had Nixon. —Steven Goldman
With multiple issues afflicting their bid for the postseason, what priorities should the Mets place on fixing their assorted problems?
Matt Meyers of ESPN Insider: Welcome to our roundtable on the Mets' trade options. I've been commissioned to lead this conversation, and the plan is to have a back and forth regarding the Mets' trade options in the wake of the injuries to Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, and J.J. Putz, not to mention the disastrous performance of Oliver Perez.
Sorting and separating the best and worst baserunners from the rest.
"I don't really like to run, and that's why I didn't go out for track in high school. I ain't no fool, I see those dudes running around a track for a living. I wouldn't want to run against them. I wouldn't want to embarrass myself." --Willie Wilson
Kevin chronicles the minute-by-minute suspense of a postseason Game 7 as only he can.
7:02 p.m.: As a Mets fan looking for some reason for hope, it's interesting to note that every once in a while this year Oliver Perez pitched like Oliver Perez. In his fourth and final start for Triple-A Norfolk, he put up a 7.0 1 0 0 2 11 line, and he five-hit the Braves on September 6. There's something there and I agree with the decision to start him on a short leash with the other Oliver (Darren) having more experience coming out of the bullpen.
Two wounded rotations, two bullpens likely to work early to often and up to the challenge... will the difference be the Mets' eight-deep attack, or the Cardinals' power of one at the plate?
The beginning of the postseason marked a chance for Willie Randolph's Mets to consummate something the baseball world had anticipated for at least four months, the chance to show that their regular-season dominance was no fluke. Yet the run-up to the Division Series against the Dodgers brought disturbing news. Not only was ace Pedro Martinez, the symbol of the team's resurgence under Randolph and GM Omar Minaya, likely to miss a start due to his calf strain, but he was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff that would knock him out into the middle of next year. The team's next pick to open the series, Orlando Hernandez, tore a calf muscle running in the outfield, knocking him out of consideration as well. Undeterred, the Mets retooled their postseason roster to play to their strength, a deep bullpen, and Randolph ably improvised his way through the series while the lineup punished nearly every mistake the Dodgers made. The result was a victory in straight sets, confirming that at the very least, the road to the NL pennant runs through the Big Apple.
The Marlins' defense has been historically good, the Yankees' defense has been historically bad, and the Pirates need to check out of the W Hotel.
Foiled Again: BP's Neil deMause called it first: The Marlins' latest bid for a taxpayer-funded stadium died an ugly death at the hands of the Florida State Senate last week. It's not a huge surprise or even a huge shame, except to the extent that ownership visits to Las Vegas, Portland, San Juan, Mexico City, and Kuala Lumpur might distract from a terrific season by South Florida's ballclub.
The music is fading out, and these guys haven't found a chair yet.
While watching Sophia work her way through a stack of pamphlets on how to care for an idiot, I got thinking about what's left on the market. According to ESPN.com's Free Agent Tracker, there are 102 players available for the taking. This number is a bit inflated; it includes players who have retired, such as Edgar Martinez and Todd Zeile.