Monday, July 2, 2012
No. Unfortunately because of sloppy base running and fielding, the Mets will now have to wait for the MLB schedulers to give them another chance.
The first inning would prove to be a harbinger of things to come. The first two outs of the inning were squandered because of base running blunders. Andres Torres led off the game and was hit by a pitch from Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw. For the second straight game, Torres was caught leaning too far off first base and was officially ruled out stealing. Ruben Tejada then walked. David Wright followed with an infield hit. With runners on first and second-base, Scott Hairston laced a single to left field scoring Tejada and Wright moving to third. However, Hairston was called out when he tried to advance to second base on the play. Lucas Duda then flied out to retire the side. The Mets missed a golden opportunity to pounce on Kershaw early.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Mets began to show why they are last in the National League in fielding percentage. Trailing 3-1, Juan Uribe led off for the Dodgers with a walk by Mets pitcher Dillon Gee. Next Tony Gwynn hit a routine double play ball to David Wright but his throw to second base was dropped by Ronny Cedeno. Instead of two outs with nobody on base, Kershaw was able to sacrifice Uribe to third and Gwynn to second. Dee Gordon then hit a ground ball to Justin Turner at first base which he bobbled. The error allowed Uribe to score and move Gwynn to third. Catcher A.J. Ellis then hit a sacrifice fly scoring Gwynn. The two errors cost the Mets two runs and tied the score at 3-3.
The coup de grace was delivered in the bottom of the seventh when the defensive wheels completely came off for the Mets. With the Dodgers now leading 4-3, Ramon Ramirez relieved Gee. Pinch-hitter Elian Herrera flied out to left field. Gee singled to center and then stole second base. Next Ellis walked. With runners on first and second and one out, Justin Hampson relieved Ramirez. Gordon proceeded to steal third and Hampson walked Bobby Abreu. Manager Terry Collins then called on Miguel Batista to hopefully clean up the mess. Batista got Uribe to ground a ball right back to the box setting up a perfect double play opportunity that apparently would enable the Mets to get out of the inning unscathed. However, inexplicably catcher Mike Nickeas completely misjudged Batista’s throw to the plate. The ball caromed off Nickeas’s glove to the back stop allowing both Gordon and Ellis to score and advancing Abreu to third. Adam Kennedy then hit a sacrifice fly scoring Abreu and Uribe would score on James Loney’s double to deep right. Instead of being down 4-3 heading into the eighth, the Mets were trailing 8-3. Dodger relievers Ronald Belisario and Kenley Jansen were then able to shut the door on the Mets.
The Mets come back home to face the Phillies in Citi Field for a three game series starting on Tuesday. There were positives the Mets can look to during this road trip. Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy appear to be coming out their season long slumps. However, will Collins keep Davis, Murphy, and Josh Thole on the bench when Cliff Lee pitches for the Phillies? What can the Mets do to improve their defense? It appeared Collins rolled the dice with a super platoon line up against the southpaw Kershaw but the Mets gloves and legs crashed and burned in the Ravine.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Heading into the 2011-12 season, the Islanders will be without the services of several players who made key contributions over the past couple of years:
· Defenseman Radek Martinek signed a one-year, 2.2 million dollar contract to play with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
· Center Zenon Konopka inked a one-way, one-year deal with the Ottawa Senators. The pugilist led the NHL with 307 penalty minutes. His new teammate Chris Neil was second with 210. Konopka also ranked fourth in the league as the Islanders best face-off man last year with a 57.7 face-off percentage (620 FOW/455 FOL).
· Bruno Gervais signed a one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He will probably be the team’s sixth or seventh defenseman.
· Rob Schremp will play overseas as a center for MODO of the Swedish Elite League. He will look to rejoin the NHL again in 2012-13.
· Doug Weight officially announced his retirement in May. The 19-year veteran will stay with the Islanders as an assistant coach and special advisor to GM Garth Snow.
· Trent Hunter was traded to the New Jersey Devils for Brian Rolston. Hunter, who missed most of last season with a torn MCL, then had his contract bought out by the Devils. The veteran right-winger is currently an unrestricted free agent, and is attending the Los Angeles Kings training camp on a tryout basis.
The Islanders acquired three key additions during the off-season:
· Marty Reasoner was signed a two-year, 2.7 million-deal. He will add a veteran presence to the Islanders crop of young talent. Last year he tallied 14 goals and 32 points for the Florida Panthers. The Islanders plan to use him as a fourth line center and a face-off specialist, two roles of need caused by the departure of Konopka.
· Brian Rolston was acquired in the deal that sent Hunter to the Devils. He too was brought over to provide a veteran presence to the club. In addition, his 3 million dollar contract which brought the Islanders closer to the salary cap floor played no small part in his acquisition. It will be interesting to see what exactly will be Rolston’s role. He believes he can be a top-six forward, but it is hard to believe the Islanders not giving these positions to the youngsters. Most likely he will man the point on the power play and may end up opposite Mark Streit on the first unit.
· Tim Wallace signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Isles. He played the past five years with the Pittsburgh Penguins’ organization, spending most of last year in the minors with their AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton team. There he registered 20 goals and 37 points in 62 games. He was held scoreless in the seven games he played with the big club. Wallace, who plays right-wing, will likely be used as organizational depth for the Isles.
The Islanders have put together a group of outstanding young prospects that many consider second to none. The youngsters most likely to have impact in the next couple of years are:
· Ryan Strome was the fifth overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He is a plus puck handler and has great passing skills. The center is considered an average skater but is expected to get better as he grows. Strome has a good wrist-shot and is not afraid to go to the goal-mouth area. Scouts are pleased with his work ethic. The 18-year old projects to be a first line center who will probably make a number of All-Star appearances. Strome still needs to fill out his lanky six foot, 175 pound body and prepare physically for the next level. He most likely will spend the 2011-12 season in major junior hockey.
· Nino Niederreiter was the fifth overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. The power forward works hard on both ends of the ice and has an above-average physical game. His 6’2’’, 205 pound frame has filled out well and he is considered strong for his young age (18). Some scouts questioned his work ethic after being sent down to the Portland Winterhawks last season, claiming he looked disinterested. However, he is safely projected to be a good second line forward. Niederreiter is almost certain to start the season with the Islanders. However, he may initially have a tough time cracking a top-six role. He should at least garner third line minutes so that his development and progress will not be stunted.
· Calvin de Haan was selected in the first round as the 12th overall pick by the Isles in 2009. The 20-year old is considered a smooth-skating defenseman although he is does not exhibit above-average speed. He is especially known as a plus passer who has great distribution skills. He rarely gets rattled when under pressure and has good hockey sense. His weakness is his lack of physical play and physical growth. He still has yet to fill out his 6’1’’, 189 pound frame despite his age. Thus de Haan will most likely spend most of this season in Bridgeport (AHL) where he can get used to the rigors of the pro game. There is no reason for the Isles to rush him at this time.
The Islanders showed noticeable improvement in their specialty teams last year as compared to their dismal 2009-10 season. They ranked 17th in the league recording a 17.2 power play percentage in 2010-11 after ranking 27th with a 16.0 percentage the year prior. Their penalty kill percentage also improved to 83.2 percent (12th in the league) from 77.1 percent (29th in the league) in 2009-10.
Frans Nielsen led the NHL in 2010-11 with seven shorthanded goals. Michael Grabner was second with six.
The Islanders were involved in 24 overtime contests last season resulting in an 11-13 record. In those that involved the shootout, they were 4-6.
The Islanders will depend on Marty Reasoner to be their face-off specialist. Last year he led the Panthers with a 54.5 percent face-off percentage (700 FOW/784 FOL). The Isles will also lean on John Tavares who ended last season with a 52.5 percent face-off percentage (693 FOW/626 FOL).
Until roles are defined in training camp, it will be difficult to speculate the exact make-up of this season’s power play units. Most likely, Streit and Rolston will get first crack at the points since the Isles have shown they are not afraid to use a forward back there. I personally would like to see Travis Hamonik man the point, but it is probably Rolston’s position to lose. The first unit will probably be a mix of Tavares- Matt Moulson- PA Parenteau-Streit-Rolston, and maybe Kyle Okposo-Nielsen-Hamonic-Andrew MacDonald with Blake Comeau or Josh Bailey on the second unit. The team added and enjoyed Parenteau’s right-handed shot for the power play last year, so don’t expect him to be demoted without a fight.
I leave the prognostications to my friends Gary and John. However, I do see a team that is on the rise and can no longer be ignored. The Achilles’ heel for the Islanders remains the potential revolving door at goal. Will Rick DiPietro be able to extricate himself from the disabled list? Will Al Montoya also recover from injury, and if so, will he be able to match his success from last year? Will Evgeny Nabokov be able to shake off the rust after being two years removed from the NHL, and if so, will he then soon be traded?The Islanders look potent up front and if Streit can keep healthy, I like the mixture at the blue line. I see the team earning 85 points in a difficult division. They will battle for the eighth and final playoff spot until the last game of the season. Unfortunately, I see them losing a heartbreaking, overtime shootout decision on a dreary April 7, 2012 night in Columbus. However, 2012-13 will then be the season that the hockey world will attribute to the origins of the next New York Islander dynasty
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Fans like to dream of the glory, the excitement, the wins that "can't-miss" prospects or potential superstars might bring to the team they ardently root for. When John Tavares was selected first overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Islander fans were hoping that he could help propel the club from Atlantic Division bottom-feeders to perennial Stanley Cup contenders.
Similarly, optimism now runs high because of the steady stream of young talent the Islanders have recently conglomerated through high draft picks and astute late-round selections. Many consider this talent as "elite," and the system having great upside and incredible depth. Thus, current players such as Ty Wishart and Travis Hamonic, skating prospects Ryan Strome, Kirill Kabanov, Nino Niederreiter, and Calvin de Haan, and goalie prospects Kevin Poulin and Mikko Koskinen have many Islander fans agog.
Yet through the fog of this excitement, it is oftentimes difficult to see the importance of a steady, unheralded veteran who helps tap a young team's potential. A veteran player who quietly battles in the trenches on the third or fourth line, and leaves the accolades to others. A veteran whose best attribute may be as a calming influence to a young, inexperienced team.
Fortunately, Islanders general manager Garth Snow saw through the fog. And contrary to what many would consider a dull off-season move, he secured the services of unrestricted free-agent Marty Reasoner for two years at a total of 2.7 million dollars.
The 34 year-old center joined the Islanders on July 1 after registering 14 goals (a career high) and 18 assists in 82 games last season with the Florida Panthers. Prior to his time with Florida, he spent the previous two seasons (2008-10) with the Atlanta Thrashers posting 18 goals and 47 points in 159 games.
Reasoner began his NHL career with the St. Louis Blues in 1998. He was then traded to the Edmonton Oilers in 2001, the club with whom he has had his most tenure. As a free-agent in 2004-05, he opted to play overseas for EC Red Bull Salzburg-Austria. Reasoner then rejoined the Oilers in 2005-06, but was traded to the Boston Bruins at the end of the season. Again, he rejoined the Oilers for the 2006-07 season.
Reasoner has been quite durable during his long NHL career. He has played in at least 72 games per year since 2005. In 2003-04, he was limited to 17 games after suffering separate ankle and knee injuries, his only extended stints on injured reserve. Since then he has remained relatively healthy.
Reasoner is an intelligent player who is effective checking opposing centers. He has good hockey sense and above average passing ability. Drafted by the Blues for his offensive skills, Reasoner has unfortunately been unable to produce them at the NHL level.
He has, however, turned into a fine defensive center and a good penalty killer. Reasoner is especially adept in the face-off circle, consistently ranking in the league's top 25 for face-off percentage. Last year, he ranked 21st (54.5 percent). It is for these reasons that the Islander brass allowed fan-favorite Zenon Konopka to leave via free-agency, although he too is among the best face-off men in the game and is notorious for his time spent in the penalty box (a league-leading 307 PIM's last season). At the time of Reasoner's signing, Snow said, " The addition of Marty solidifies our center position."
Reasoner sees the Islanders as a tough, upcoming team. " We played them in Florida twice during the second half and they had their way with us. They were a tough team to match up against. They are building in the right direction. Hopefully that can translate into a really good start this October so that we'll have a great year," he said.
Reasoner will do whatever it takes to help the club. "I'm going to come in and work hard on face-offs, be there on the penalty kill, and be solid two-ways, trying to chip in offensively, but really be good defensively. Really for me, it's just trying to help out in any way that I can," he stated.
The New York native finally takes his trade back home to Long Island and should provide that steady, veteran presence that will finally help unleash this young Islander team's immense talent.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Fortunately, many fine hockey writers do not lay down their pens during this canicule. By gleaning the abundant wellspring of information they provide, one may discover that golden nugget that can potentially make the difference between victory and also-ran. With this in mind, here are a few links that may help you, the fantasy hockey owner:
Fantasy Hockey Blog at Razzball.com- DC
The denizens at Razzball have done an extraordinary job opining daily about fantasy baseball since October 2007, fantasy football since July 2009, and fantasy basketball since August 2010. And now, this month, with the same wit and wry sense of humor, Razzball introduces its daily blog by DC, dedicated to fantasy hockey. DC starts preparing us for the draft with a three-day series, 2011-12 Fantasy Hockey Top 30 Rankings. In a subsequent post, he posits his "Draft Strategery" with uncomparable tips such as "The Setoguchi Effect" and "Don't Blame Me, Stupid." Currently he is examining, "The Best of the Rest: Goalies." Go over there. You will appreciate DC's hockey advice and savor his levity. For example, this is what he has to say about Mikka Kiprusoff: "He also makes me think of....... Yawnstipating. I know he’s better than that, but if you take him as your #1 goalie there’s nothing to get excited about. It’s like going to a top notch steak house and getting a sirloin."
Down Goes Brown- Sean McIndoe
With many rosters locked as training camp approaches, Sean gives us his buyer's guide to some one-time star free agents who may have difficulties finding work. For those of us who are thinking sleeper picks, the guide includes for each player the good, the bad, and where he'd fit. For example, the good for Pascal Leclaire: "Every NHL contract he has signed so far has, eventually, expired." Or the bad for Brett Lebda: "Struggled so badly last year that he was occasionally referred to as 'The poor man's Brett Lebda'." And where Sergei Samsonov may fit: "On your fantasy team as a 'sleeper pick' based on name recognition, then on the waiver wire by mid-November, just like every year." Down Goes Brown never fails to give us a good read and a good guffaw.
Puck Daddy- Greg Wyshynski
There has been much concern over the long lingering side effects of Sydney Crosby's concussion. Crosby and the Penguins are still waiting word from medical specialists in Georgia and Michigan to prescribe a treatment regimen. "They'll give us the advice on what he should do with his training and going into training camp,"coach Fred Shero said. Until he is symptom-free and gets clearance from his medical team, Crosby will not be allowed to have contact in practice or play in any games. So Greg asks the obvious question, "Would you still take Sydney Crosby in your NHL fantasy draft?" Jay's August 25th post here at FHS, Thursday's Daily Dosage- Top Five Players, generated a lively discussion in the comments section as to where in the draft Sydney should be chosen. In a standard 12-team league, Jay and jsuites would select him 5th. Michael and Slicktee would not have him in their top five. Greg at Puck Daddy asks Scott Pianowski, editor of the Yahoo! Sports blog Roto Arcade and Darryl Dobber of Dobberhockey.com for their advice. Scott would pick Syd the Kid "2nd and hope," whereas Dobber would not select him in his top nine if the draft was held today.
Dobber Hockey- Prospects to Avoid- Stu McDonald
With the draft in mind, Stu gives us seven prospects who he feels will not produce during the 2011-12 season. He believes Jonathan Huberdeau will not see more than nine games this year because the Panthers are stacked at center and will avoid putting him on the wing. Similarly, Ryan Ellis won't see a lot of ice time because Nashville has too many offensive options at the blue line (Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Jonathan Blum, and Roman Josi). Adam Larrson is a complete defensive defenseman and will likely make the Devils this season. However, Stu questions his offensive ability and doubts he can register fantasy worthy numbers. Stu does recommend drafting Huberdeau, Ellis, and Larrson for keeper leagues. On the other hand, he warns us against drafting at all cost Nikita Filatov, Zach Hamill, Luca Caputi, and Jordan Schroeder until they can prove to be legitimate prospects again. Stu makes a special case for Anders Lindback, who he considers an underrated prospect. If Pekka Rinne gets hurt or traded he can very well become the number one goalie in Nashville. Hockey Prospectus writer Matthew Coller also believes Lindback will play 20 games this year based on his .915 save percentage last season.
Hopefully these links will provide insight as you prepare for your drafts. I will continually keep you up-to-date on blogs, articles, websites, publications, etc. to make your fantasy hockey experience as enjoyable and enlightening as possible. Please feel free to offer any suggestions in the comments about content that you feel would be of interest to the fantasy hockey community.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
When browsing Fansided a few days ago, I serendipitously happened upon Eyes on Isles. Reading the articles, I quickly discovered the deep passion that Gary and John both have for the Islanders. Their dedication to this blog, from its inception two seasons ago until now, is to be commended.
I have been an Isles fan since the 1980-84 dynasty years when I would watch the Stanley Cup Playoffs on the USA network. Unfortunately, I have never had the good fortune to attend an Isles game. Nor have I yet to run into another Islanders fan in the Pacific Northwest, where I have resided since 1978.
In their latest posts, Gary and John asked for someone to assist them with this blog. I let Gary know that I would be privileged to help. At the same time, I felt it would provide me with a great opportunity to finally express my thoughts about the Islanders with others.
I do not profess to be a hockey pundit, nor a journalist, nor a good writer. I am only here because I want to share my love of the Isles with you. Today I will embark on a series about the upcoming make-up of the 2011-12 New York Islanders. In it, I will regularly post articles about an off-season loss or acquisition, a prospect, or a player who is currently on the active roster.
Let's start with the Isles first key off-season loss, Radek Martinek. The Czech defenseman signed a one-year deal worth $2.2 million with the Columbus Blue Jackets after becoming an unrestricted free agent July, 1. He will join former Islander James Wisniewski there on the blue line.
Prior to the move, Martinek, 34, spent his entire 9-year NHL career with the Isles, longer than any other player other than Rick DiPietro. But like DiPietro, the stay-at-home rearguard had a difficult time staying on the ice because of the injury bug. His litany of maladies includes a broken foot, a fractured ankle, a fractured leg, and a concussion. He was only able to play in 16 games during the 2009-10 campaign because of a torn ACL he sustained on November 9, 2009 in New Jersey. It was the second of his career.
Martinek leaves Long Island after amassing 21 goals and 82 assists for 103 points with 272 penalty minutes in 453 games. He was the Islanders’ 12th pick, 228th overall, in the 1999 Entry Draft. He made his NHL debut with the club during the 2001-02 season. The economy defensive defenseman was only able to taste the Stanley Cup Playoffs the following two years. He has not been back since.
The 6-2, 210-pound native of Havlicko Brod, Czech Republic registered 30 goals, 53 assists and 195 penalty minutes in 235 career games with Ceske Budejovice in the Czech Elite League from 1996-01. He also represented his country at the 2000 and 2001 World Championships, helping the Czech Republic capture back-to-back gold medals.
“Radek Martinek has been a solid defenseman in the National Hockey League for several years and we think he will be a nice addition to our hockey club,” said the Blue Jackets' Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Scott Howson. “He is a smart, steady player who will provide character and experience on our blueline.”
Well said, Mr. Howson. Radek Martinek will be missed on Long Island.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Cody Ross (2-for-5, 1R, 2RBI) hit a solo HR off of Chris Volstad. It was only his 9th homer of the year.
Mike Stanton (1-for-4, 1R, 1RBI) hit is 26th HR of the season.
Ryan Vogelson (7.2IP, 4H, 2ER, 2BB, 8K) raised his record to 10-2. One of the complete surprises of the year, Vogelsong boasts an impressive 2.47 ERA. The win followed one of his worst outings of the year.
Chris Volstad (6.0IP, 7H, 4ER, 2BB, 7K) took the loss against the Giants. The right-hander allowed three solo homers and saw his ERA balloon to 5.60.
Jo-Jo Reyes (6.0IP, 4H, 1ER, 2BB, 4K) picked up a rare victory. It was his third win in 10 starts since June 17th.
Kevin Gregg (0.0IP,4H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB) failed to retire any of the six batters he faced in the 9th. His ERA soared from 3.40 to 4.20 after his miserable showing. Jim Johnson bailed the O's out and picked up the save.
Doug Fister (5.2IP, 12H, 8R, 6ER, 1BB, 5K) did not fare well in his third start with the Tigers. Fister saw his ERA rise from 3.31 to 3.59.
Nick Markakis (3-for5, 2R,4RBI) had a great day at the plate. He hit his 12th round-tripper of the year and drove in his 55th RBI. He is now batting .284/.335/.400, good in fantasy circles as a 4th outfielder.
Dan Uggla (0-for-3, 1RBI) had his 33 game hitting streak broken. He did, however, hit an RBI sacrifice fly.
Jose Constanza (1-for-2, 2R, 2SB) remained white hot. His slash line now stands at an unsustainable .382/.414/.545. Those in rotisserie should ride him until he cools down.
Brandon Beachy (5.1IP, 6H, 2R, 0BB, 8K) pitched well but was not involved in the decision.
Matt Garza (5.0IP, 6H, 4R, 2ER, 1B, 5K) did not have his best outing but was not involved in the decision.
Carlos Pena (1-for-4, 1R, 3RBI) hit a two-run game winning homer in the 7th off of Eric O'Flaherty. It was Pena's 23rd HR and 65th RBI of the year.
Erick Aybar went hitless again today and has only 3 hits in his last 49AB since July 31. He has seen his batting average plummet to .259 from .286 during this time.
Jose Bautista (3-for4, 1R, 1RBI) belted his 34th homer and now sports an exceptional .311/.448.636 slash line.
Brett Lawrie (1-for-4, 1RBI) doubled home the winning run in the bottom of the tenth. The rookie is now batting .355 since being called up to the Jays.
Dan Haren (7.0IP, 5H, 3ER, 0BB, 5K) pitched well but took a no-decision.
Brett Cecil (7.0IP, 5H, 5ER, 0BB, 3K) pitched a fine game but took a no-decision.