Nov 11

Why you’ll never get the complete truth from the Mets.

For many, our first impression was one of openness and honesty. When Sandy Alderson was introduced as general manager he spoke of wanting to win, yet said there would be difficult times. He gave hope things would be different in the new regime.

There seemed to be an honesty about him absent from previous Mets management and the current ownership. You wanted to trust him.

While Alderson is on point, it is still not his team, and despite their stated intentions of giving him the resources, the Wilpons continue to play it close to the vest financially. This is a tentative time for the Mets because they still need to sell tickets and don’t want to risk alienating the on-the-fence fans by telling them the real team will appear in 2015, if not later.

Watching the Mets now is akin to going to the movies and getting two hours worth of previews before the feature. And, maybe not even getting the feature.

There are two types of fans. There is blind loyalty that will remain passionate for their team and support it regardless. Since 1962, there’s been more losing than winning, but the Mets continue to hold those fans as they are forever.

Their interest might turn to discouragement and frustration, but if they have the money they will find their way to Citi Field as they did Shea Stadium. They will listen on the radio and watch on TV. They will absorb every written word from the major media vehicles to the blogs. They will talk Mets to anybody who will listen, because, after all, they are Mets fans and that’s what they do.

The Mets know they have a core following. If they came out and said this will take time, more than we expected, that base will remain steadfast.

Then there is the fair weather variety, which come in various forms. They come out when it is convenient, or the weather is nice, or the team is winning, or they get free tickets, or that night’s Law and Order is a repeat, or the other team is the Yankees.

They know who Jose Reyes is and believe he is the Mets and the franchise can’t  exist without him. They think the same of David Wright. They thought it of Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry and Tom Seaver. Players come and go, but the team remains. Their fancy is caught by the shiny star, much like a child with a new toy.

The flexible fans weigh the cost of a Citi Field experience to that of a Broadway play, a trip to the beach, a night out in Manhattan, the movies, or any thing else that might attract their fickle dollar.

They are flexible because they bend to the prevailing wind. As the great movie line goes, they “can’t handle the truth.” If they knew the Mets were three or four years from serious contention, they would tell you to leave them a wake-up call. These fans aren’t interested in rebuilding and don’t care about Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey being three years from Flushing. They don’t care about building because Reyes is the here and now.

The Mets care most about these fans, as do all sports teams, because they don’t yet have their money. The Mets know the loyal will pay; they are givens to be taken for granted. It’s the others, who haven’t yet laid out the cash, they are chasing.

Alderson can’t be honest with them because to do so is to tell them there’s no compelling reason to come to the park other than to buy into the dream of the future, which they won’t as they haven’t made an emotional investment. To do so would be to chase them away.

To these fans, the truth is poison.

Nov 10

Have resigned myself to Reyes leaving.

Let’s face it, Ruben Tejada isn’t as good as Jose Reyes. Then again, Reyes is far from a lot of the great shortstops who have played this game. Replacing Reyes isn’t like Mike Bordick replacing Cal Ripken.

Reyes is a very good player, but there have always been obstacles that prevented him from being great. He gets injured, he loses focus, there are times he loafs, his on-base percentage could be better.

Reyes, who makes his living with his legs, was a non-entity on the bases after coming off the disabled list. He was playing to protect himself so he could win his precious batting title and preserve himself for the free-agent market.

There’s always been a twinge of selfishness about Reyes that gets ignored by his endearing smile. The feeling projected is he’ll take the best offer because this is about money. Sure, he wants to stay in New York, but that’s only if the Mets pony up the most.

While Reyes wants the most possible, the Mets will lowball him. There will be some team out there willing to give Reyes the years and a contract north of $100 million. If he can get that, more power to him.

But, it won’t be the Mets. And, considering their position it shouldn’t be the Mets. Sometimes cutting ties is difficult, but it needs to be done. I’m at peace with Reyes wearing another uniform.

Nov 10

2011 Player Review: Chris Capuano

John Delcos of Newyorkmetsreport.com and Joe DeCaro of Metsmerizedonline.com will be doing more and more projects together with the goal of merging two successful blogs in the hope of giving our readers everything they’ll need in covering the Mets. Continuing our review of the 2011 Mets, today we take a look at Chris Capuano. Tomorrow: Jason Isringhausen.

Chris Capuano

THE SKINNY: Desperate teams take desperate measures, which is why last winter the pitching-thin Mets signed left-hander Chris Capuano to a free-agent contract. Coming off arm problems, the Mets took a $1.5 million gamble on the career 57-64 record, including 11-12 this season. The gamble paid off and Capuano stayed healthy and now wants two years. The Mets aren’t interested.

REASONS TO KEEP HIM: He gave the Mets 34 starts and 186 innings and those will be hard to replace. … The Mets’ rotation is thin and lefthanders are hard to come by.

REASONS TO LET HIM GO: He’s only had one winning season and that was in 2005. … He has an injury history and a career losing record. … The Mets got lucky last year. Will they do so again?

JOHN’S TAKE: Capuano gave the Mets more than they could have expected. I’d give Capuano one year or one plus an option, but would consider two because the Mets aren’t loaded with options.
The Mets have limited depth in their rotation and little immediate sources for improvement and can’t afford to discard pitchers who have been productive for them.

We know the Mets are deeper in a rebuilding plan then they are willing to admit, and if Capuano could remain healthy he could be an innings bridge until some of their younger pitchers are ready.

JOE’S TAKE: Let me begin by saying that Chris Capuano delivered one the finest pitching performances of the 2011 season when he hurled a complete game shutout against the Atlanta Braves on August 26. His 13 strikeouts were a career high and he faced just one batter over the minimum. Remarkable.

That said, as much as I loved that memorable moment, I would have to take a pass on Capuano based on two things. First, is his 1.35 WHIP and 4.55 weren’t reason enough, what about his road splits of a 5.42 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP? I mean come on, that’s absolutely brutal and how do you think that will translate in a smaller Citi Field which was just changed to aid right-handed hitters who teed off on Capuano to the tune of an .818 OPS? How you like me now?

Second, Capuano is now seeking a multi-year deal. No need to expand further on this, right?

Sorry Cap, but thanks for the memories…

Nov 09

Fish met with Reyes today.

The Miami Marlins met with Jose Reyes this afternoon but not surprisingly did not make an offer. Rarely do teams make a contract proposal during the initial meeting as nobody wants to set the market.

REYES: Talked with Marlins today.

Reportedly, Boston, the Yankees and Atlanta will pass on Reyes. Those believed to have interest are the Marlins, Washington, Detroit and Milwaukee.

Philadelphia could be a player if they don’t re-sign Jimmy Rollins. San Francisco was believed to be interested, but that might change in the wake of acquiring Melky Cabrera to be their leadoff hitter. The Giants still need a shortstop and will talk with Rollins. Both Cabrera and Rollins would cost them less than Reyes.

I’m believing four years at $80 million should be the limit for Reyes, but other media outlets are saying five years at $100 million, and it has been reported Reyes wants six years at upwards of $120 million.

Would I like to see Reyes with the Mets next season and beyond? Yes, I would, but I wouldn’t be interested in breaking the bank with him because of his injury history and the high probability of him not finishing his contract healthy.

Nothing has happened to convince me he’s not a goner.

Nov 09

2011 Player Review: Angel Pagan

John Delcos of Newyorkmetsreport.com and Joe DeCaro of Metsmerizedonline.com will be doing more and more projects together with the goal of merging two successful blogs in the hope of giving our readers everything they’ll need in covering the Mets. Continuing our review of the 2011 Mets, today we take a look at Angel Pagan.

ANGEL PAGAN

THE SKINNY: You look at this guy and wonder why he’s not better with his physical tools. Pagan appeared to have a breakout year in 2010 when he hit .290 with 11 homers, 69 RBI and 32 steals. In 101 less at-bats last season Pagan hit four fewer homers with 13 less RBI. Not only were his numbers off, but he regressed in his defense and decisions on the bases. This is not a fundamentally sound player.

REASONS TO KEEP HIM: The Mets are thin in the outfield, don’t have many options on the minor league level and don’t figure to get any help in the free-agent or trade markets. … Should Jose Reyes leave, the Mets don’t have any leadoff options.

REASONS TO LET HIM GO: He could get up to $5 million in arbitration, which is a lot considering his production. … After last summer, it appears 2010 was a fluke. … Is there any reason to believe he’ll be better?

JOHN’S TAKE: The word is the Mets will tender Pagan so this might all be a moot point. I would still rather them take the gamble with Grady Sizemore, or if nothing else, see what somebody else can do. The Mets aren’t loaded with outfield options, but if Pagan produces as he did last year, he’s not offering much.

For a team wanting to get better defensively and fundamentally, Pagan doesn’t bring much to the table. Defensively, he doesn’t judge balls well and has a below average arm. In 2010 it appeared he was ready to take over centerfield, but I don’t see that anymore. For all his speed, his .322 on-base percentage is poor and his strikeouts-walks ratio is roughly 2-to-1. Let him go and move on.

JOE’S TAKE: The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or so it would seem where Angel Pagan is concerned. A year ago fans were clamoring for Pagan to replace Carlos Beltran in center field for his defensive exploits and some even mentioned him in the same breath as David Wright for his offensive showing in 2010. Gulp.

Pagan was a big letdown in 2011. He got off to an atrocious start at the plate to start the season batting .159 in April before hitting the DL with an oblique injury and missing nearly a month. His bat looked great when he returned, but that was offset by big declines on defense and base-running.

Pagan is proving himself to be wildly inconsistent and that’s usually the sign of a platoon player or even worse – a fourth outfielder. Is it smart for this front office to pay $5 million for such a player when the utilities at Citi Field are in danger of being turned off? Probably not, but they will anyway. It’s not like they have any better options.

One year at the helm and the new Mets caretakers now have less center field depth than last November. That means they will have to keep Pagan, but that doesn’t mean you have to like it. These are strange times in Flushing.