Aug 26

Ruben Tejada Scolded For Not Hustling

Production comes and goes. It is streaky. What should never be streaky is hustle. No matter the record, no matter the score, a player owes it to himself, his teammates and the paying customers to bust his butt.

That’s what’s so disappointing yesterday about Ruben Tejada, who not only failed to wear an athletic supporter – and being a shortstop of all things – and not running out a grounder.

Terry Collins and David Wright – this is why he should be named captain – reprimanded Tejada, who, in his first season as a starter should be running at all times.

The Mets aren’t going to have a winning record, but it they are ever going to, the culture of losing and apathy must be changed. It has to some degree, but not totally as Tejada proved. Tejada should be benched today to make sure the message sinks in.

There’s never any excuse for not hustling.

 

Aug 25

What If Selig Treated Mets The Way He Did Dodgers?

Over a year ago the Dodgers and Mets were in deep financial distress when Commissioner Bud Selig strong armed Los Angeles owner Frank McCourt into selling the team by first taking financial control?

SELIG: What if? (AP)

He did so despite claims McCourt had worked out a regional television deal that might have eased most of the Dodgers’ problems. The Dodgers were eventually sold to a group that includes Magic Johnson, and yesterday they had the resources to pull off a blockbuster deal with the Boston Red Sox and take on over $250 million in payroll. This, after trading for Hanley Ramirez.

Obviously, the Dodgers have deep pockets. Today, while watching R.A. Dickey win his 16th game and break the Mets’ latest five-game losing streak, I couldn’t help but wonder what might be had Selig treated the Mets’ ownership of Fred Wilpon with the same tenacity he directed at the Dodgers.

If for sale, what could the Mets, with the team, SNY and Citi Field brought on the open market? If the Mets had deep pockets I wouldn’t have made the trade the Dodgers because of the players involved.

But, seemingly unrelated resources could have bought other worthy players this team needs. Just wondering.

 

Aug 24

Astros, Mets Kindred Spirits?

They were born the same year, 1962, as expansion teams, and in the Houston Astros’ final National League appearance against the Mets in New York, both teams are playing like expansion teams.

Although linked by their entry, the Mets and Astros never developed an substantive rivalry in these 50 years. Playing in different divisions dulled the potential of a rivalry.  Both had long stretches of mediocrity, or worse, and there were few times they were good at the same time.

Then there was 1986.

The Mets rolled through the regular season. They dominated as manager Davey Johnson boasted at the start of the season. But, the Astros wouldn’t cave and made it a memorable series.

The Mets prevailed, 4-2, but needed 16 innings to oust the Astros in Game 6. They were on the brink of elimination in the ninth inning but rallied for three runs to force extra innings. The teams traded runs in the 14th inning. The Mets scored three in the top of the 16th, but the Astros’ rally fell a run short.

With the win, the Mets avoided facing Astros ace Mike Scott in a Game 7. The Mets could not touch Scott and to this day Keith Hernandez admits he was in their heads. The Mets were convinced Scott was scuffing the ball, but never caught him.

The series that begins tonight is the last time time the Astros will play here as a National League team as they will move to the American League in 2013.

I don’t like the idea of the Astros leaving the league. It will be odd not playing them, but then again things have been odd since interleague play and the unbalanced schedule. It’s just not the same race for every team.

As bad as the Mets have been since the break, going 11-28 and having just been swept by Colorado, the Astros have been a horrid 6-33. Part of it is playing poorly and going with young, inexperienced players, but a lot of that has to do with gutting their team in a July fire sale.

While the Mets have played some incredibly horrid baseball in August, the month did produce a bright spot in the emergence of Matt Harvey and yesterday’s stunning debut by Collin McHugh.

Who knows? Maybe we’ll look back at this month as the time when the Mets found the core of a new pitching rotation.
 

Aug 23

Mets Face Bleak Offseason

How could anybody be anything but enthused about the Mets for 2013?

With GA Sandy Alderson telling us the budget hasn’t been set but don’t expect it to be much higher than it is now. Then he said trades might be the way to go. But, if the Mets aren’t willing to part with Matt Harvey or Zach Wheeler, will they purge the rest of their farm system? History says it isn’t likely.

A quick glance at the major league roster tells us there’s little to trade of value outside of David Wright, R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese. I like the potential of Ruben Tejada and Ike Davis, but outside of that, who would anybody want?

You’d love to trade Johan Santana and Jason Bay, but nobody wants those contracts, plus their limited production and injury histories.

There’s simply little of any value other teams would want. We are talking about a team that is ten games below .500 and facing another losing season. This is a team that since its last World Series appearance in 2000 has had five managers and four general managers. The latest, Alderson, is a fixer, brought in to clean up a mess brought on by the owner’s financial distress and hopefully field a competitive team in the process.

Considering all that, of course there’s limited talent available. Otherwise they wouldn’t be in this mess.

It wasn’t going to be pretty work, nor was it going to be easy. So far, Alderson has sliced nearly $50 million in payroll and said good-bye to Jose Reyes. He also cut ties with Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran, players with bloated contracts brought in when the team considered itself a contender.

The Mets have a myriad of issues they must face with limited dollars:

1.  Re-sign David Wright: He’s had a solid season and deserves it. Plus, if you let the face of the franchise leave who is going to want to come here? After losing Reyes it would be a disastrous decision. Wright will be a FA after 2013, so any dealing of him would be limited for the fear of him leaving. There is the possibility of next year being a huge distraction if there’s an unsigned Wright at the trade deadline. Talk about a potential mess.

2. A starting pitcher: The Mets got more from Santana than they could have hoped but eventually shut him down. They have to go under the assumption he’s a health question. Also, Jon Niese has not performed as hoped and is it realistic to think they’ll get a similar year from Dickey? No. They likely won’t bring back Mike Pelfrey – remember him? – and while there’s optimism, the Mets still don’t know what they have in Dillon Gee, Harvey, Wheeler or Jenrry Mejia.

3. The bullpen: This was Alderson’s area of concentration in the offseason and it blew up on him. Frank Francisco is a disaster and Bobby Parnell has yet to grasp a role. Maybe the Mets have run their course with Dan Warthen as pitching coach, I don’t know. But, that must be examined. Are their any viable pieces? Doesn’t look that way.

4. Outfield: Bay will be back because of his contract, but I’d eat it and start fresh. Lucas Duda will get a shot in left then, but they need power from the right side. They aren’t getting it from Andres Torres or Jordany Valdespin, both of whom aren’t any better than bench players.

5. Catcher: Josh Thole has not progressed either offensively or defensively as hoped. But, he’s a healthy body right now and for the Mets, that’s a positive.

When you come down to it, that’s an impressive shopping list to fill on a limited budget. It looks as if next year’s team will look similar to this year’s Mets, with the hope for improvement coming from more production from their current roster. They need breakout years from Davis, Duda, Thole, Harvey and either Wheeler or Mejia.

They need a monster year from Wright and more power from Daniel Murphy.

They need a hell of a lot.

 

Aug 22

Mets Shut Down Santana

It wasn’t a shoulder, an elbow or his ankle. Instead, inflammation in his lower back landed Johan Santana on the disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 18, but indications are he’ll be shut down for the season.

Surgery is not required.

Santana has given up at least six runs in each of his past five starts, so it was obvious something was wrong.

“I’m very confident he’ll be back next season ready to go, hopefully in a stronger position coming into this season,” GM Sandy Alderson said. “If you look back at this season and what we reasonably could’ve expected at the beginning of the year, he’s accomplished quite a lot.”

Alderson is right and this was the best move. And keeping him off when he’s eligible to be activated is a must. It must be remembered Santana has been working hard at his rehab since December, so he’s already pitched the equivalent of a full season.

“My mindset was to start tomorrow, but the doctors are thinking different now, so we’ll go with everything they’re saying,” said Santana. “I want to keep pitching. I felt that I could pitch, but at the same time, I’m listening to them.”

Collin McHugh will be brought up to start in Santana’s place Thursday. He was 2-4 with a 3.39 ERA for Triple-A Buffalo.