Jun 01

History Revised With Carlos Beltran Returning

Covering baseball for over two decades taught me several things, some simple and others more complex. Several of these valuable lessons will come into play tonight with Carlos Beltran’s return to New York to face the Mets as a member of the Cardinals.

Baseball has its ironies and Beltran comes back playing for the team that bounced the Mets from the 2006 NLCS. He also finds himself playing behind the pitcher, Adam Wainwright, who threw the knee buckling curveball that froze Beltran and forever placed him into the darkest recesses of Mets lore.

BELTRAN: Had some magic moments with that swing.

As far as irony goes, this is pretty delicious stuff, but not so savory are the remembrances of Beltran by Mets’ fans of his tenure here and comments made, and written, by several members of the New York media, beginning with WFAN’s Craig Carton, nothing more than a shock jock who vainly tries to entertain with vulgarity and cheap, crass humor.

This morning he crudely made fun of a mole on the side of Beltran’s face.

Making fun of a person’s looks or physical abnormality in the attempt of humor is simply low. It also does nothing to add to the supposed theory of New York fans and media being sophisticated. How sophisticated is it to joke about a person’s physical appearance or blemish? Are we still in the fifth grade, Carton? And, what is it Boomer Esiason always ends his show with? Stay classy New York.

Nothing classy about Carton this morning.

I don’t think much about Beltran’s reception tonight. He’ll get his fair share of cheers. Boos, too. There will also be indifference, which, to an athlete is more venomous than hate.

When it comes to Beltran’s career with the Mets, there’s nothing about it that warrants hate. Beltran was signed after a historic playoff run with the Houston Astros. The Mets, then on the verge of developing into a contender, were at an interesting phase in their history and Beltran was signed as a cornerstone.

The Mets wrestled Beltran from the Yankees that winter, but there would always be the wonder if he really wanted Queens because his agent, Scott Boras, made a last minute pitch to the Yankees.

Beltran struggled his first season with the Mets – a lot of players do in making the transition to the city – but what highlighted that summer was him playing with a broken face after a horrific outfield collision with Mike Cameron.

Say what you will about Beltran’s quiet, and low key demeanor and persona, but he played hurt and when healthy produced and posted significant numbers. He might have been one of the Mets’ best position players they have ever had if he was healthy his entire tenure here.

Beltran had an incredible 2006 season, which unfortunately for him has been reduced to one at-bat. More of those sophisticated fans at work, right?

The Mets haven’t been close to the World Series since, but that hasn’t been Beltran’s fault as much as it was their inability to bolster their rotation and bullpen, to overcome a long string of serious injuries and poor signings and acquisitions.

To say Beltran’s at-bat against Wainwright slammed shut the Mets’ playoff aspirations is an oversimplification because there is that matter of blowing a seven-game lead with 17 remaining in 2007 plus another late-season collapse in 2008. Totally unfair to pin that all on Beltran.

Beltran was a very good player on a flawed team and should be remembered for his ability to perform while frequently injured. Outside of the episode when Beltran had surgery on his own – and can you blame him considering the Mets’ shoddy history of handling of injuries? – he was pretty much a team player.

Much has been attempted to be made of about a divide in the Mets’ clubhouse between the Hispanic and American players with Beltran being made a cause. In reality, the central figure in that friction was more Carlos Delgado, brought on by his differences with then manager Willie Randolph.

Delgado had some clubhouse lawyer in him, while Beltran’s personality precluded him from being a vocal presence. And, Delgado had a deeper influence on Jose Reyes than Beltran, so keep than in mind, too, when laying the groundwork for Reyes’ departure.

Beltran was a very good player who didn’t live up to the expectations created  by that monster postseason when he was with Houston. He was never going to live up to those lofty expectations or that salary.

The important thing to remember, however, is he tried. And for that, he deserves your respect and cheers tonight.

 

 

 

 

Jun 01

Chris Young Could Be Back For Subway Series

Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that starting pitcher Chris Young is expected to remain with Triple-A Buffalo for one or two more starts as Sandy Alderson predicted earlier in the week.

Young took a huge step toward re-joining the Mets rotation after he tossed six scoreless innings yesterday in a start for Triple-A Buffalo. The 33-year old right-hander threw 87 pitches and allowed just two hits and three walks.

The Mets have been struggling to replace Mike Pelfrey since losing him for the season to an arm injury and have already had the likes of Miguel Batista, Chris Schwinden and Jeremy Hefner take turns trying to replace him until the Mets could get Chris Young ready. It appears that the wait is almost over.

Bisons manager Wally Backman assessed the situation as follows:

“If he can do the same thing he did today five days from now, he’s pretty close to being ready. He’s a smart pitcher. That’s why he’s had the success that he’s had in the big leagues. Now, all we hope for is that we keep him healthy.”

Young dazzled in four starts for the Mets last season before his shoulder surgery and went 1-0 with a 1.88 ERA to lead the rotation at the time.

Rubin quoted Josh Thole who happened to catch Young for his start yesterday and came away very impressed with Young’s performance. “I thought his velocity, to be honest, was better than it was last year.”

If Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey could continue to pitch as they have, the addition of a very effective righty in Chris Young, could make a huge difference in how long the Mets continue to contend for that second wild card spot.

I took a quick glance at the schedule… Assuming Young was to make two more starts for Buffalo, he could return to the Mets in time to get the Sunday start against the Yankees during the Subway Series on June 10.

That would make things pretty interesting…

Mets Merized Online

Jun 01

Josh Thole and Elvin Ramirez To Join Mets Today

The Mets announced that catcher Josh Thole and reliever Elvin Ramirez will join the Mets in time for Friday’s series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Who is getting cut or demoted to make room for them has yet to be announced.

Thole, who was hitting .284 with one home run before the concussion, has been on the disabled list since May 8, but started behind the plate for Triple-A Buffalo today and went 1-for-4 at the plate with a single.

The Mets will have to decide between cutting Mike Nickeas or Rob Johnson to make room for Thole. Nickeas is batting .148 compared to .313 for Johnson, but is the better defensive option.

Elvin Ramirez has been lights out this season for Binghamton and most recently Buffalo, and he was just highlighted today by Joe D who wrote:

Okay, I really don’t want to jinx Bisons reliever Elvin Ramirez who is now 3-0 since his promotion to the Herd. But in 14.2 innings pitched so far, Ramirez has yet to allow a run and has limited batters to just five hits, one walk and an amazing 19 strikeouts. Stick your tongues back in your mouths…

I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do for this bullpen. I’m gonna assume that Chris Schwinden will go back down.

The Mets also announced that reliever Manny Acosta, who was designated for assignment last week, cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Buffalo.

Rob Johnson – Mets Merized Online

May 29

Mets Settling On Jenrry Mejia Status

Jenrry Mejia might have the best stuff in the Mets’ minor league system, and that stuff could translate into a productive, and perhaps lucrative, career as a starter. But, It won’t this year.

The problem I’ve always had with the Mets’ handling of Mejia is their indecisiveness in how to use his talented arm. That problem was brought into focus two years ago, when Jerry Manuel, desperate for help in the bullpen rushed him to the major league level as a reliever. That season they brought him north in the pen, the  demoted him as a starter when he struggled. Eventually, Mejia had Tommy John surgery.

Is there a correlation? That seems a reasonable conclusion. Even if inaccurate, it is hard to dispute the perception.

The Mets are using Mejia in their rotation on the minor league level currently, with visions of bringing him up shortly to work in the pen. I’m not crazy about the Mets repeating the scenario, but the key difference is they are working first to build up his stamina and strength first before changing his role.

Will it work? I don’t know, but this time the Mets appear to be laying the foundation first. What I don’t want to see is the Mets changing course on Mejia if there is a setback. Let him go the entire season in one role, then if a redirect is needed, make the decision in the offseason and go from there.

Mejia has an explosive, talented arm that shouldn’t be fooled with. They were burned once, but could they survive another Mejia injury?

May 27

R.A. Dickey, Mets Cap Banner Weekend

When the Mets’ schedule came out today was a game I circled on my calendar.  Banner Day at Citi Field and the revival of one of the Mets’ great traditions. I used to love Banner Day simply because of its uniqueness. No team had anything remotely as close.

DICKEY: Has Padres guessing all day.

Speaking of uniqueness, what’s more unique than R.A. Dickey’s knuckler? Maybe it burst onto the Mets’ lore as an aberration and a gimmick, but it is getting better and better, damn near unhittable.

After today, Dickey is 7-1 and you tell me anybody more deserving to be named to the All-Star team? As of now, he should start. He along with David Wright.

This last week as been rough for me physically, but the Mets have made the time fly, and it has been fun. Loved watching Dickey toy with the Padres today. Looking forward to tomorrow afternoon’s holiday game with the Phillies. Wish it was a doubleheader.

This is developing into a compelling and interesting baseball season, and the Mets are making a lot of positive headlines. Six games over .400 with June days away. I couldn’t have asked for more.