May 2012

David Wright on MLB Network

MLB Network’s Alanna Rizzo recently sat down with David Wright, in a spot that debuted today on “The Rundown” and “MLB Tonight.” In case you missed it, here are a few excerpted questions from the interview:

Wright on if he will be with the Mets two years from now:

“That’s a great question. I hope…I’d love to get this thing turned around and headed in the right direction and I think we’ve done that, taking that first step.  Hopefully, I’m a big part of that.”

Wright on being the longest-tenured Met:

“Well, it’s funny because we have team pictures in the clubhouse and you gotta go year from year and we were looking back on the 2006 team that won the NL East and we were searching, searching, searching and there was a lot of faces that aren’t here anymore.”

Wright on if his Postseason experience from 2006 drives him to want to get back there:

“It’s addicting. The atmosphere here was incredible … Running out on the field for the first time, looking up in the upper deck at Shea and literally seeing it rock, I was like, ‘Man, this is [it], doesn’t get any better than this.’  I kind of took it for granted. But it continues to push you and motivate you and drive you.”

Wright on playing in New York:

“New York wants winners. I see how these fans react to Gary Carter when he would come to Shea. That’s what I want my legacy to be is this guy was a winning player, he did everything he could to help his team win.”

Wright on his relationship with Gary Carter:

“It’s incredible. From day one when I was drafted, I was an 18-year old high school kid coming into the Spring Training complex and before you know it, you’re shaking the hands of Gary Carter and you’re almost in awe, you’re star struck. You have a Hall of Famer and a World Series champion that’s helping an 18-year old, teach[ing] him out to be a leader.”

“Up until he passed, he would call once-a-month, twice-a-month and just want to talk baseball. I’d ask him how he was feeling and he [would say], ‘Enough about me, how’s the team doing?  What’s it like in the clubhouse?  How these young guys doing?’ Just the energy in his voice, talking about the game will be my lasting memory.”

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo.

Dickey book Q&A rescheduled

From the Mets:

FLUSHING, N.Y., May 17, 2012 – The New York Mets today announced pitcher R.A. Dickey’s exclusive question and answer session about his new book Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball (Blue Rider Press) has been rescheduled for Tuesday, May 29 at Citi Field before the Mets play the Philadelphia Phillies at 7:10 p.m.  Dickey will be joined by Wayne Coffey, the New York Daily News writer who collaborated with Dickey on his memoir, which landed on the New York Times Best Sellers List.

Tickets for the special event cost $100 and include a seat in the all-inclusive Champions Club with complimentary premium food and non-alcoholic beverage, an autographed copy of Dickey’s book, and admission to the exclusive Q&A session. Tickets are on sale now at Mets.com/RAQA.  Seats are very limited for this intimate event.

The Mets rescheduled the Q&A because the pitching rotation changed and Dickey pitched on the original date April 25.

About Wherever I Wind Up

A 37-year-old knuckleballer and lover of literature, Dickey has emerged as not only a Met fan favorite but among the most thoughtful and compelling personalities in baseball – and one of the most improbable success stories in the game.  Scarcely two years after he was sleeping on an inflatable mattress in Buffalo, pondering whether he should abandon baseball to teach English Literature, Dickey has become one of the most reliable starters in the National League.  His ascent is a testament to his perseverance and hard work, and to a faith that has carried him through a difficult life journey.  With searing honesty, Dickey writes about growing up in an alcoholic home, surviving sexual abuse and living with crushing shame and fear.  He writes with both power and humor as he chronicles the hardships of chasing a baseball dream when very few people think you are good enough to make it.

A man of deep humility and self-awareness, Dickey’s candor is as remarkable as his knuckleball is unpredictable – making Wherever I Wind Up a uniquely American story of beating back demons, listening to your heart, and overcoming extraordinary odds – a memoir that as Publishers Weekly says “sets a new standard for athlete autobiographies.”

***

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets in Miami’s bobblehead museum

One of my favorite parts of the new Marlins Ballpark is their bobblehead museum down the third-base line. There are bobbleheads from every team, as well as open spots for future inductions. Here are some shots of the Mets:

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo.

Where does David Wright rank?

Top Mets batting averages through May 12 of a season (minimum 50 ABs):

1. Cleon Jones, 1969 — .411 (46/112)
2. David Wright, 2012 — .402 (45/112)
3. Joe Torre, 1976 — .393 (24/61)
4. Mike Piazza, 2000 — .389 (42/108)

Top Mets batting averages of all-time (minimum 3.1 ABs/team game):

1. David Wright, 2012 — .402 (45/112)
2. John Olerud, 1998 — .354 (197/557)
3. Cleon Jones, 1969 — .340 (164/483)
4. Jose Reyes, 2011 .337 (181/537)

Top MLB batting averages of 2012 (minimum 3.1 ABs/team game):

1. David Wright, NYM — .402 (45/112)
2. Josh Hamilton, TEX — .402 (49/122)
3. Jon Jay, STL — .376 (35/93)
4. Matt Kemp, LAD — .375 (42/112)

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo.

Ozzie: Santana is the reason I got fired

Asked today how well he knows Johan Santana, Marlins (and former White Sox) manager Ozzie Guillen responded with this riff:

“Santana is the reason I got fired. I gave Santana his award; the Cy Young award belongs to the White Sox. If you take Santana’s wins against the White Sox when he won the Cy Young, he don’t win any Cy Young. That’s six, seven wins. Santana, he’s one of the best lefties I’ve ever seen. I see him very good. I saw him, like I made a comment the last time we faced him, since Santana was pitching bad, as soon as he sees me, back to normal. … He sees my face, there we go, nine-inning shutout. What can I say about this kid? He’s a hard-worker, he takes a lot of pride in his job, he loves to compete and he loves to win. That’s all I can say, because I’ve seen him for a long time and I’ve seen him on the top of his game. I don’t see anything better. He throws 95-96 and his changeup is 78, and breaking ball is 84. He’s been competing against good pitching staffs and good hitting teams and he’s still one of the best lefties in the game the last 10 years, maybe more than that.”

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

How has Wright improved on defense?

After a few seasons of lackluster defensive play, David Wright has rebounded to be one of baseball’s most consistent third basemen over the first five weeks of 2012. That story describes how Wright worked with third-base coach Tim Teufel this spring on his defensive positioning, both while waiting for balls to be hit to him and while preparing to throw to first base.

But how exactly has Wright improved? I spoke today to author, statistician and defensive expert John Dewan, whose “Fielding Bible” is required reading for many Major League general managers. Dewan uses a Plus/Minus system that calculates how many runs a fielder saves versus the average player at his position, breaking it down to various aspects of a player’s game. Dewan’s data shows that Wright has already saved two runs on balls hit to his right this season, making him suddenly a very good third baseman on those reaction shots down the third-base line.

Compare that to Wright’s specific struggles of years past and it’s a big, big change. As Dewan wrote in the third edition of his “Fielding Bible,” which came out this spring, “It seems that Wright has the physical tools to make highlight-reel plays; if his range to his right improved and he limited the misplays on throws, he could possibly work his way into the Fielding Bible Award discussion in the future.”

That, thanks to Teufel, is exactly what Wright has done so far in 2012. It’s a neat little story about how stats and scouts don’t always have to be independent; it’s a human game, and players who work can sometimes overcome their shortcomings of the past.

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo.

Who is Jordany Valdespin?

Aside from that guy who hit a three-run game-winning homer last night off Jonathan Papelbon, who is this guy?

In truth, Jordany Valdespin was not really on the prospect radar until he hit 17 homers and stole 37 bases over two levels of the Minors last year. Following that performance, MLB.com ranked him ninth amongst Mets prospects, citing Valdespin’s power-speed potential but admitting that “he might profile best as an offensive-oriented utility man.” The Mets thought enough of Valdespin to keep him in camp until the final days of Spring Training, trying him out in center field while the team dealt with injuries.

The one knock against Valdespin is his apparent lack of maturity, which has manifested itself both on the field and in the clubhouse during his Minor League days. Just last week, during his first call-up to the Majors, Valdespin stole third base with two outs as the potential tying run, a sure way to earn a manager’s distrust. But Terry Collins also sees the benefit of Valdespin.

After last night, so do the rest of the Mets.

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets honor Beastie Boys with at-bat music

The Beastie Boys are big Mets fans, and vice versa. So when clubhouse music gurus Justin Turner and Scott Hairston suggested that the Mets honor late band member Adam “MCA” Yauch with their walk-up music Friday night, the whole team jumped on board. Here’s what they chose:

SS Ruben Tejada: “Intergalactic”
2B Daniel Murphy: “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”
3B David Wright: “Brass Monkey”
RF Lucas Duda: “The New Style”
LF Scott Hairston: “Root Down”
1B Ike Davis: “Fight For Your Right (To Party)”
CF Andres Torres:
“So What’cha Want”
C Josh Thole:
“Make Some Noise”
RHP Dillon Gee:
“Body Movin'”

PH Vinny Rottino: “Paul Revere”

You can check out video of Wright, Davis and Tejada coming out to their songs here.

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets launch Friday food drive initiative

Passing along this word from the Mets:

The New York Mets have launched “Feeding the Big Apple”, a season-long hunger relief initiative in which Mets players will participate in public service announcements and activities throughout the season with long-time Mets partners City Harvest, Citymeals-on-Wheels, Island Harvest, Rock and Wrap it Up.

From two hours before every Friday home game at Citi Field, fans can participate in “Feeding the Big Apple” by dropping off canned or dry food donations at the City Harvest or Island Harvest truck next to the Home Run Apple on Mets Plaza outside the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. 

For more information, log onto Mets.com/feedingbigapple

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo.

5-foot-5 Jose Altuve faces 6-foot-11 Jon Rauch

Not quite the same as when 5-foot-6 Daniel Herrera stepped into one leg of Rauch’s pants in Spring Training…but close.

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo.

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