February 2019

I Went To Spring Training: Three Things I Wanted To See

I just got back from my three day venture to Port St. Lucie in Florida. The trip was full of palm trees, fun, and lots of baseball. Before the trip, I compiled a list of three things I wanted to see, and see if my perception on these questions would be any different after viewing the team in person at camp.

A) Team Camaraderie without Jose Reyes and David Wright


It goes without saying that in this post-Wright era team, there isn’t a bonafide leader in the clubhouse, and while it’s not possible to predict who will emerge as said leader in three days of camp, I definitely saw a lot of strides by many players I didn’t expect to see stepping forward.

The best example of such was Amed Rosario, who impressed me with the way he was coordinating the infield, and walking to the mound, to calm the — often overwhelmed minor league — pitchers. His poise and confidence notwithstanding, I was very impressed with his demeanor.

In the bullpen, Jeurys Familia seemed to be chatting and mentoring some of the younger hispanic pitchers, which was nice to see. I was outspoken in my disdain for the Familia signing last December, as I thought it was a rather stale move, but if he can provide his counsel and help some of the younger arms all while taking care of his own affairs, that would be great to see, and I think the relationship between Familia and Edwin Díaz will be fascinating to watch over the course of the season.


B) Which of the Veteran Journeyman would Separate Themselves from the Pack


Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen made it a priority this offseason to enhance the minor league depth, especially at the Triple-A Level. In doing so, the Mets signed a lot of experienced, older players, including Keon Broxton, Gregor Blanco, Danny Espinosa, Adeiny Hechavarria, Devin Mesoraco, Rajai Davis, J.D Davis, among others.

While most of these players  are expected to start the year at Triple-A Syracuse, it’s become apparent that a few of them might make the big club, especially after the injuries to Jed Lowrie and Todd Frazier.

Of all the aforementioned players, Gregor Blanco seemed very eager and energetic, and was aggressive on the bases, something the Mets could always use. While he’s not the most exciting player off the bench, he could be an interesting 25th man.


C) Would any of the Young Pitchers Emerge as Leaders?


This is another question that I did not expect an answer to in three days, but throughout Spring, it doesn’t seem like any one pitcher is going to go the extra mile to grab the bull by the horns and lead the staff. Could deGrom take on this role post-extension? Maybe, but I think the door is open for Syndergaard to emerge into this Matt Harvey-type “king of New York” role, and if he has a good first half, he could do just that.

I also watched starts from both Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz, both of him seem to be in good shape, and ready to prove themselves in this pivotal season (for both themselves and for the club). Both of them came up with high praise, and while they’ve both had great moments, they’ve largely been overshadowed by deGrom, Harvey and Syndergaard, and I expect both pitchers to work in tandem with Dave Eiland, and develop and continue off what was a strong 2018 season.

Stay tuned for a comprehensive review of my trip to West Palm Beach & Port St. Lucie, next Wednesday! 


2019 is Upon us, Is It Time for Citi Field to Bring Back the Organ (Tracks)?

Do me a favor. Close your eyes, and picture you are at the game.

When you’ve done that, click play on the video below (you might have to open your eyes for that).

“No, Niko, the seventh inning stretch was never played on the organ at Citi Field”

And you’d be right, that’s because that was played before the game.

“Seventh Inning Stretch before the game, and you want that back, aren’t you a traditionalist?”

Well, not necessarily the stretch, I want the organ. Instead of the loud obnoxious pop music, I want the sweet sounds of a ballpark organ.

The organ, or, organ tracks, was in-use from 2009 until 2014, when it was retired in favor of generic tracks.

So Mets, you’ve done things to win back the hearts of old-school Mets fans before, so in this year, 2019, where Brodie is mixing it up new and old, why not bring back this organ? I don’t think anyone dislikes it, and if you use organ tracks, there is no cost associated with it…

Welcome back to MetsPlus (on Wednesdays!)

Hey everyone! Long time, no talk!

It’s me, Niko Goutakolis. Need I re-introduce myself?

I’m a little bit different from who I was when I was blogging in High School under the original MetsPlus title, so quick primer: In brief, I’m a college student that works two jobs, and does something fifteen hours a day, seven days a week, which made blogging about Baseball difficult, to the point that I stopped doing so last Fall.

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As the weather gets warmer, I wanted to get back into it, at least a little bit.

This time, however, I’m going to do things a little differently. I’m going to post a longer-form article each and every Wednesday (in aggregate, this will also provide a great opportunity to master the spelling of Wednesday, something auto-correct is telling me I’ve surprisedly omitted from my educated brain these last twenty years).

So check back here, every Wednesday, for a new and exciting piece on something Mets, Baseball or (this is still Mets Plus) an interesting topic that I’ll a somehow give a baseball spin.

I’m really excited to start this new venture with all of you, and I look forward to seeing you all out at the ballpark soon.

As always, thanks for visiting MetsPlus.