Jul 14

Reading the tea leaves on dealing Beltran.

Sandy Alderson is working the phones this afternoon about Carlos Beltran. There’s a chance he could be taking more calls than making them.

“Carlos’ situation is well-known, and it’s not surprising given his situation and performance this year that a lot of interest has been expressed,’’ Alderson said. “We have not pursued that interest in great length to this point.’’

BELTRAN: Attracting interest.

As an All-Star, Beltran is probably the premier outfielder and bat in the trade market, so the Mets aren’t completely without leverage.

Where the Mets don’t have leverage, is that Beltran’s contract precludes him from being offered arbitration so they won’t get any compensatory draft picks.

The balance of Beltran’s contract is for roughly $8 million, so the Mets must decide if that’s worth the price to pay to gamble on staying in contention.

Unless the Mets are bowled over, Alderson said he’s willing to ride this out until the trade deadline, and even longer.

While the trade deadline is July 31, the Mets can move Beltran after that in a waiver deal. In that situation, Beltran must clear waivers before he can be traded.

Alderson’s stance is actually a good negotiating ploy. Everybody knew the Mets were desperate to deal Rodriguez, but by showing a willingness to wait on Beltran it’s possible he could force some general manager to blink and offer up a better prospect.

The Giants and Red Sox are the teams reported to have the most interest in Beltran. ESPN reported the Tigers might be players for Beltran.

As far as the Yankees, their primary objective is pitching.  Even with Alex Rodriguez out for at least a month, the belief is the Yankees still have enough offense.

If the Mets go all out in the trade market, they have several pieces that could prove attractive to a contender, including Chris Capuano, Jason Isringhausen, Tim Byrdak, Scott Hairston and Willie Harris.

All have served a purpose for the Mets this season, but all can be replaced in the winter.


Jul 14

Today in Mets’ History: Bobby V. wins 1,000th game as manager.

I never covered him full time, but always recognized Bobby Valentine held a special place with Mets’ fans.

VALENTINE: A fixture in Mets lore.

Maybe it had nothing to do with the fake moustache, but perhaps that act is what endeared him to the Shea partisans. It was spontaneous, funny and above all, human. We all know ejected managers hide in the runway or somehow send messages to the dugout. Valentine was just brash in his approach.

Valentine guided the Mets to the playoffs and World Series in 2000, but his teams ran out of steam and his feud with then general manager Steve Phillips became draining.

On this date in 1971, Valentine registered his 1,000th career victory when Glendon Rusch and Armando Benitez combined to throw a one-hit shutout of the Red Sox, 2-0.


Valentine managed Texas and the Mets, as well as two stints in Japan. He currently works for ESPN, but is constantly being mentioned when managerial openings occur.


Jul 13

Alderson dances around trade and future.

What else was Sandy Alderson going to say?

In a classic case of GM-Speak, Alderson said today in a conference call, “I certainly wouldn’t draw any conclusions from this transaction,’’ regarding this morning’s trade of Francisco Rodriguez to Milwaukee.

ALDERSON: Dances the dance.



He might be the only one.

This was about dumping salary, totally understandable considering the Mets didn’t want to pick up Rodriguez’s $17.5 million option. How well the Mets have played was irrelevant because clearing themselves of the option was their primary objective, although Alderson downplayed this issue.

He wasn’t believable.

Alderson insisted the Mets’ goal the rest of the way will be winning games, but that’s a tough sell considering he just traded their closer, and is actively looking to move Carlos Beltran, and wouldn’t say no to anybody asking about Jose Reyes.

Trading Rodriguez offers payroll flexibility, but realistically we’re only talking about 2012, and Reyes reportedly will seek six or seven years.

Alderson said there’s no connection between Rodriguez and possibly trading Beltran, but what other conclusion can you make? The Mets want to shave payroll and aren’t a realistic contender, so the fire sale seems the only realistic way for this season to play itself out.

Anybody can see that, so why can’t Alderson just admit it and spare us the GM-Speak?


Jul 13

Today in Mets’ History: Fire sale begins with K-Rod. Vote in poll.

There were always assumptions made of this season, and early today one became reality in a positive stroke for the Mets.

The Mets traded reliever Francisco Rodriguez and $5 million in cash to the Milwaukee Brewers for two players to be named later. Never mind the two players, the Mets won because they got out from under Rodriguez’s daunting $17.5 million vesting option.

RODRIGUEZ: We don't hate to see you go.

The Mets’ press release was timed at 12:25 a.m., so on this date in club history the fire sale began. And, make no mistake, there will be a sale regardless of how well the team has played, but we knew that all along.

Carlos Beltran, who said at the All-Star Game he would accept a deal, is on deck.

“This trade allows us to develop and more fully utilize other members of our 2011 bullpen and offers some payroll relief as well,’’ GM Sandy Alderson said of shedding Rodriguez.

Rodriguez’s option kicks in if he finishes 55 games, which would have been a certainty at the rate he was going. That’s something the financially struggling Mets desperately needed to avoid as they deliberate what to do with Jose Reyes.

Let’s face it, as well as the Mets played in the first half, they face too steep a hill to reach the playoffs as a wild card, much less win the division. They trail Philly by 11 games and wild-card leader Atlanta by 7.5, but have four teams to leapfrog to reach the Braves.

Of all the players the Mets reportedly were seeking to deal, Rodriguez was the priority because of his option. That priority became more acute after Rodriguez dumped his agent and hired Scott Boras.

Rodriguez was to be paid $11.5 million this season, and considering the $5 million they are kicking in, the Mets will pay all but $750,000 due him.

Continue reading

Jul 12

Beltran showcased tonight at All-Star Game.

Carlos Beltran, potentially a future former Met, has the national stage in tonight’s All-Star Game to showcase his talents for a potential trade.

Of course, if teams have been paying attention during the first half they will know he’s physically holding up, that he’s adjusted to right field without a problem, and is playing well.

BELTRAN: Who is watching?

Beltran will start tonight as the designated hitter and bat second.

The Mets have exceeded expectations at 46-45, but are 11 games behind the Phillies and 7.5 behind Atlanta for the wild card. The only concession the Mets are making toward investing for the future is saying it is unlikely Jose Reyes will be traded.

Not so with Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez. Beltran knows the Mets are trying to move him, and jerked around by the organization over his knee surgery, his relationship with the team isn’t warm and cozy despite his guarded comments yesterday at the All-Star media sessions.

“A lot of teams this time, they’re looking to improve, some others are looking to rebuild,’’ Beltran said. “Right now, the Mets are playing good baseball.  I like where I am. We’re having fun and we just hope to continue to improve.’’

Beltran is in the last year of a seven-year, $119 million deal. Roughly $9 million will be paid Beltran in the second half, but if the Mets aren’t a contender, and they know they won’t bring him back, their best option would be making a trade.

San Francisco and Boston are two of the teams with a reported interest in Beltran.

Beltran went through this in 2004 when he was with Kansas City, so he’s treading familiar waters.

“I guess that experience makes you understand the business side of baseball a little better. You can’t take it personally,’’ Beltran said. “Having the no-trade clause gives me a little bit of control. I will choose if I like the trade. This is my 12th year in the big leagues, so at this point, all I want is to win and to have the opportunity to be in the playoffs.’’

Beltran’s agent is Scott Boras, who recently convinced Francisco Rodriguez to abandon his agent. Paul Kinzer to sign with him. On the surface, dumping Boras shows loyalty isn’t one of Rodriguez’s strong suits, so the Mets shouldn’t expect anything from him.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he doesn’t know how signing with Boras will impact Rodriguez’s future with the team. Rodriguez said he would accept a deal to a contender and work as a set-up reliever if there’s a contract extension in the picture.  If Rodriguez completes 55 games this season, a $17.5 million option will kick in, and that’s something the cost conscious Mets can’t afford.

Boras will not make things easy for the Mets regarding Rodriguez.

“Francisco Rodriguez is a historic closer,’’ Boras told reporters yesterday in Arizona. “He’s not going anywhere to be a setup man. … Closers don’t make good setup men. Does anybody want an unhappy setup man in their clubhouse?’’