Mar 01

Anxious for Santana

I am on record as saying not to expect anything from Johan Santana, but I can’t help but wonder about his bullpen session today in which he faces live hitters.

SANTANA: Will it be a ``thumbs up'' day for him?

There’s always that competitive rush pitchers get when throwing to a hitter and Santana is smart enough not to let his adrenalin get the best of him. Afterall, it has been a long process so far and we don’t want any setbacks.

A good showing from Santana today – and it all comes down to how he’s feeling afterward – can give this camp a shot of life. With Santana on the mound the Mets believe they have a good chance to win the game, and that’s a feeling they don’t always have with others in the rotation.

We all know what not having Santana means: A vast hole in the rotation with no real No. 1; no stopper makes it possible for long losing streaks; and most importantly, the black cloud continues to hang over this organization.


Feb 29

It’s not going to end here

They are still talking about adding an extra wild card , but it won’t end there. The one-game playoff is bound to drag on to three games, then five ….

I realize the old format will never be again, but the more you add to the playoff format the more the sport is diluted. The season drags on long enough as it is and this won’t help matters. What if there’s two teams vying for the final seed? Do you add another game?

The suggested format would allow the three division winners first-round byes, but what if one of the wild cards has a superior record to a division winner.  That’s not entirely fair, either.

As it is, the integrity of the regular season is compromised because of interleague play the unbalanced schedule as not every team runs the same race to October. Unfortunately, I never see them doing away with interleague play although it is not nearly the success Major League Baseball portrays it to be. Interleauge play is compelling in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, but other than that, who really cares?

Yes, they’ll show up in Pittsburgh when the Yankees are in town, but there’s nothing exciting about seeing the Royals or Mariners come in. There’s just not the draw MLB executives believe.

Sadly, as long as Bud Selig is commissioner, interleague play is here to stay.

If they really want to do something about the integrity of the regular season, and by extension, the playoffs, here’s a system that could work.

I’d do away with the division format and simply have the two leagues. If they insist on interleague play, they could structure it where every team plays the same schedule. The same schedule promotes fairness.

From there, I’d take the top four teams and seed them so one plays four and two plays three. That would  be a fairer and more equitable solution.




Feb 28

“There’s no need to fear … ”

I understand the intent of the Underdog T-shirts, I really do. But, doesn’t anybody think these things through?


By accepting the notion you’re an underdog, by extension, you’re accepting you’re inferior. As David Wright said, it only underscores the low expectations outside the organization. Why would you want to to embrace that?

Sure, at the end of the season if they made an incredible run into contention, then go for it as a rallying cry. But to enter the season on that notion isn’t a sound admission. In reality, it’s just a gimmick, and gimmicks never won anything. It’s cute, and cute is for kittens and not baseball teams.

More to the point, claiming underdog status is difficult for a New York team to do, especially one with a new stadium and since 2006 has maintained one of the top payrolls in the game. Claiming to be an underdog now only highlights the team’s downward slide.


Feb 27

Fred: “ … we intend to own the franchise for a very long time.”

Whether he was speaking out of defiance or knowledge, Mets owner Fred Wilpon vowed he wasn’t parting with his team. Period.

“Well, (Mets fans) shouldn’t be concerned about us owning the franchise, because we intend to own the franchise for a very long time,’’ Wilpon said this morning in Port St. Luice. “Whether they’re happy about that right now or not, I don’t know. Don’t forget, we cut a lot of payroll that wasn’t producing.’’

JEFF and FRED: Keeping the reins on the Mets.

That much is true, as gone are Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo. Also gone are Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes, but they were productive Mets last season.

Wilpon reiterated the refrain often sung by the Mets in recent seasons in hoping for bounce back seasons from the injured (Johan Santana, Ike Davis and David Wright) and the non-producing (Wright, Jason Bay and Mike Pelfrey). If all those things are realized and GM Sandy Alderson’s patchwork bullpen is productive, the Mets could overachieve.

Perhaps the key personnel issue facing the Mets this year is Wright’s future and Wilpon said he wants him to stay. He did not, however, say he’ll do everything in his power to make sure he stays.

Reyes, Wilpon said, was more a baseball decision than it was an economic choice, although the two are linked. Based on Reyes’ frequent injury history, Wilpon was leery of a long-term deal to Reyes. Wilpon said $100 million was on the table, but was linked to incentives such as games played and at-bats, which Reyes turned down. The rejection spoke more of Reyes than it did Wilpon.

Ideally, the Mets would like to build around a relatively young core and ride out the Santana and Bay contracts. If those two are healthy and productive they could help the Mets overachieve and draw a few more fans, and in the process, not make it necessary to deal Wright. Then Bay and Santana can be cut loose are their contracts expire to give the Mets more flexibility.

Feb 26

Hope it isn’t lip service from Pelfrey

Mike Pelfrey came out and admitted it right away. Usually, when he pitches poorly – which was often last season – he’ll acknowledge his flaws.
Speaking to reporters in Port St. Lucie, Pelfrey threw high heat at himself.

PELFREY: He can't just look serious this season.

“I want to play this game for as long as I can and I can’t do that with having the kind of year I had last year,” Pelfrey said. “Going into the offseason, it kind of hits you like, ‘Man, what happened?’ So you go through it, you learn from it and you try to get better. I’m more determined not to let that happen again. Obviously, I need to have a good year or . . . I might not be back.”

Bingo on that part.
Pelfrey has not progressed has hoped for several reasons, including, 1) he loses concentration and poise when things start to unravel, 2) his command can be erratic, 3) his pitch selection is bad (he doesn’t always have to agree with the catcher), 4) he doesn’t command his secondary pitches consistently.