Jan 15

Jan. 15.10: The bottom line.

Let’s forget about who is right or wrong in the Carlos Beltran fiasco. The bottom line is the Mets are without their best player, who has a degenerative condition, and with no guarantee of how he’ll perform if and when he returns.

All prognosis have to be met with skepticism.

The Mets aren’t equipped to replace Beltran, and as it has been pointed out, this adds the need to consider Carlos Delgado to offset the loss of power.

But, who plays center field?

If the Mets had no confidence with Angel Pagan in left field, they certainly don’t have confidence in him in center.

There’s not a lot out there left on the free agent market, but as I wrote several weeks ago, Rick Ankiel is available. He strikes out a ton, but he does hit for power and is very good defensively. If I’m Ankiel’s agent, I’m calling the Mets.

Jan 14

Jan. 14.10: The Mets should have done better all around.

Yes, I understand about wanting the third opinion. But after thinking about it, so what?

It was reported the Mets knew of Beltran’s condition, otherwise they wouldn’t have sent workman’s compensation paperwork to the physician. And, if what the Mets are saying is true, that they were monitoring this all along, they should have pushed the envelope on surgery in December to give Beltran a chance to be ready.

The first sign of pain should have been met with action.

There were reports this summer Beltran might have needed surgery, but they chose to wait, which was a disaster. This is something that could have been done in September and if so wouldn’t be an issue today.

The Mets also look bad in how they handled their response. They should have said they were on-board with the surgery inside of airing their dirty laundry this way. Saying they knew all along but were kept out of the loop at the end doesn’t ring well at all.

In how they handled this makes them look sloppy and inept. There’s now finger pointing and talk of legal action. Who wins here? Certainly not the Mets, who have simply aggravated their best player. And, certainly not Beltran, who’s in a cast right now.

Jan 13

Jan. 13.10: What’s left isn’t good, but ….

Who’s remaining in the free-agent pitching market isn’t good, and it seems as if the Mets are thinking who they currently have is better.

The Cubs want Ben Sheets and appear willing to spend the $12 million or so it would take to get him. He’s good when he’s healthy, worth the coin, but there’s no guarantees he’ll hold up. Ditto with Mark Mulder, who’s talking with Milwaukee.

The Mets waited for the market to come back to them on Joel Pineiro and the pricing might well have. So has the competition to get him: Los Angeles, St. Louis and Washington are linked to him as well as the Mets. Washington also has interest in Doug Davis. Can’t imagine the Nationals getting both, but what if?

That leaves us Jon Garland, Erik Bedard, Jarrod Washburn, John Smoltz, Mike Hampton (been there done that), and Chien-Ming Wang.

There are flaws with all of them, just there are flaws with the Mets rotation, which now has four arms, three of them coming off surgery (Santana, Perez, Maine). They’ll liable to get Garland as their No. 5 and call it an offseason.

Jan 11

Jan. 11.10: McGwire comes clean.

McGWIRE: More than milk gave him that body.

McGWIRE: More than milk gave him that body.

Saying he knew this day would eventually come, Mark McGwire released a statement today to the AP admitting his use of steroids. McGwire hit 583 career homers in 16 seasons, and before the steroid era he would have been a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.

McGwire has been barely a blip of the Hall of Fame radar screen since his retirement. Many writers, myself included, said they wouldn’t vote for McGwire or any other player linked to steroids. His admission will cause for some soul searching from those writers, myself included, as to their stance now.

Honestly, an admission doesn’t alter the fact he cheated, but it’s a way of being honest to the fans and to the game. For that, whatever McGwire’s motivation, deserves some consideration. I’ve always been a believer in second chances so I might be leaning in that direction. So, in that respect, personally I’m glad he did this as it will erase the cloud hovering over him.

In the Never-say-Never Department, McGwire, now a hitting instructor with the Cardinals, could be activated says manager Tony La Russa. Should that happen, the clock would go back and wouldn’t start ticking until he retires for good. It would be interesting to see the reaction McGwire would receive, but it would be more interesting to see if he has anything left for real.

McGWIRE: Whiffs in front of Congress.

McGWIRE: Whiffs in front of Congress.

Some excerpts to his release:

* “I wish I had never touched steroids. It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era.”

• “I never knew when, but I always knew this day would come. It’s time for me to talk about the past and to confirm what people have suspected.”

• “I’m sure people will wonder if I could have hit all those home runs had I never taken steroids. I had good years when I didn’t take any, and I had bad years when I didn’t take any. I had good years when I took steroids, and I had bad years when I took steroids. But no matter what, I shouldn’t have done it and for that I’m truly sorry.”

Technically, McGwire never lied to Congress, he just looked weak saying he wasn’t there to talk about the past. Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield and Rafael Palmeiro – all with 500 career homers – have been linked, or suspected of using steriods.

Do you feel better about McGwire now, or didn’t it matter either way?

Jan 11

Jan. 11.10: A call to arms.

I had a Poll request over the weekend as to whom should the Mets target to improve their pitching. There are some decent arms, and some risks out there. There’s nobody, however, that cries out, “Sign me, sign me.”

Here’s the main names on the list: Joel Pineiro, Jon Garland, Doug Davis, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Ben Sheets, Chien-Ming Wang and Erik Bedard.

The Mets are talking with Smoltz and still are considering Pineiro.

So, who do you want?

Post your comments here and vote in the poll.