Nov 23

Open those wallets.

Do you remember a few weeks ago Commissioner Bud Selig asked the sports’ owners and general managers to be fiscally responsible as to be sensitive to the public during these tough economic times?

As unemployment spirals and prices rise, will the public be receptive to the sport’s shopping season?

Selig wasn’t telling teams not to indulge in the free agent market, but be cognizant and feeling to a public struggling to survive. He couldn’t tell teams not to spend because, after all, that’s collusion and the Players Association already won that battle.

Then the Yankees offered $140 million to CC Sabathia and talk about signing anybody not nailed down. But, this isn’t a Yankees’ rant, as they are only the poster child for the economics of the sport.

Mediocre players – read Oliver Perez – are about to make untold millions, and over the next few weeks teams will announce ticket prices for the 2009 season. Care to guess how many of the 30 teams will lower prices?

It’s not hard.

It’s easy to be cynical of Selig’s plea because he’s always talking about keeping salaries down, but he’s not about to throw his “best interest in baseball weight” around, because baseball’s best interest, at least to the short term thinkers in the sport, is today’s bottom line.

How nice it would be for the sport to place a moratorium on ticket and concession prices for next season, perhaps cut them five percent. That would be a gift to the public who always gives to the game, in both heart and wallet.

That won’t happen, because he can’t order a team to set prices. It won’t happen because he knows the players won’t take less.

It doesn’t work that way. Players are under pressure from the Players Association to take the best deal because it helps other players.

Sabathia, for instance was offered $100 million to stay in Milwaukee, but even if he were giddy happy there, he won’t re-sign and leave $40 million on the table. It’s easy to say, “how much is enough?” But, you’re not the one leaving money on the table, and the truth is, if in the same position you’d do the same.

It’s never enough.

Baseball doesn’t know the meaning of enough as it expands overseas with the reach of a poker player leaning across the table to pull in his chips. The players will get their millions because teams can afford it, and they can afford it because you always foot the bill. Whether it be tickets, or T-shirts, or watching on TV, the public always pays.

And, does so willingly.

Nov 22

Loose Threads

A lot of things floating on in my mind these days.

-Congratulations to Mike Mussina for retiring on his terms. Part of me wishes he’d stay for 300 wins. But another part – a greater part – admires him for doing it his way. It doesn’t happen often. Will he get my Hall of Fame vote? Yes.

-I see where Hank Steinbrenner gave an ultimatum for the Yankees to sign CC Sabathia. I’d like to see Fred Wilpon do the same with a closer.

-The Mets seem torn between Francisco Rodriguez and Brian Fuentes. That should tell you of the concerns for K-Rod. And, concerns at this time are valid. I’d stay away, go with Fuentes and use the rest of the money that would have gone to K-Rod go for depth in the pen.

-Luis Castillo is staying to play second base. That seems apparent now. Their thinking is to hope for a comeback. It beats paying somebody to take him away.

-There doesn’t seem like a groundswell of support to keep either Oliver Perez or Pedro Martinez.

Nov 20

Murphy update ….

MURPHY: Has strained hammy.

MURPHY: Has strained hammy.

Daniel Murphy’s MRI today revealed a Grade 2 strain of his right hamstring. Murphy initially felt discomfort in his leg during batting practice Nov. 11. The Mets say he would skip winter league ball in Puerto Rico and will be ready for spring training.

it is expected Murphy will compete for the left field job this spring, perhaps enter a platoon with Fernando Tatis.

Nov 20

On the Table: What is Heilman’s future with Mets?

HEILMAN: Where should he pitch?

HEILMAN: Where should he pitch?

We’ve had this conversation before about Aaron Heilman and we’re having it again because he brought it up. Heilman’s agent, Mark Rodgers, said the pitcher wants out of the bullpen, and if not, then out of New York.

“The object the entire time has never been to get out of New York,” Rodgers told The Daily News. “The object is to get out of the bullpen. The most success he’s ever had as a pitcher has been as a starting pitcher. He was drafted by the Mets as a starting pitcher.”

Currently, the Mets, who have contractual control, favor the status quo while they shop for a starter. Heilman made made 25 starts from 2003 to 2005, going 5-13 with a 5.93 ERA, but was moved to the pen in the spring of 2006 when Brian Bannister – since traded – won a spot in the rotation. Heilman was 3-8 with a 5.21 ERA and five blown saves.

The Mets are attributing much of Heilman’s bad year to a knee problem, which if healed by rest, would make trading him a hasty decision.

Well, what to do?

-Should they trade him and risk him healing and being productive elsewhere?

-Should they give him a chance to compete in spring training for the fifth starter role, with the understanding he’ll go back to the pen if he doesn’t earn the job?

-Should they tell him to shut up and pitch in the pen, knowing he’s gone once he becomes a free agent?