Jan 11

F-Mart decision puzzling.

The Mets could be hours away of losing Fernando Martinez on waivers, the decision made to place Scott Hairston on the 40-man roster. After all this time of choosing not to deal Martinez under the guise of protecting their youth, the Mets are poised to lose him so they could keep a journeyman outfielder.

The Mets opted not to rush Martinez to the majors because they wanted him to learn and get at-bats in the minors, which made sense according to conventional thinking.

Of course, the Mets are anything but conventional.

Martinez has not proven he could stay healthy, but if the option was losing him over keeping Hairston, I would have kept him this spring as a fourth outfielder to see if there was any chance of him developing.

After all, he is only 23, and history has seen plenty of late bloomers.

As it is, Martinez is sure to get claimed. As for Hairston, who wouldn’t be surprised to see him dealt to a contender at the trade deadline. And, if not, for sure we won’t see him next season.

This just makes no sense.


Jan 10

Larkin one of the last non-controversial inductees?

Cincinnati shortstop Barry Larkin could be one of the last non-controversial Hall of Fame inductees. With 85 percent of the vote, he entered without the shadow of PEDs. For the near future, those on the ballot will have been linked to PEDs, or might have their induction chances enhanced because they will be going up against the scorned.

Larkin had a stellar career, one without suspicion. He was deserving in every sense.

In Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, we have our test cases for those linked to steroids for the Hall voters, of which I am one. If a player tests positive for steroids or other PEDs, or has been linked to the drugs, he won’t get my vote.

My thinking for guys under suspicion is to withhold my vote until there is more information. Is it fair? No, but I’d rather hold the vote and give it to the player later because once the vote is cast and he’s inducted it can’t be rescinded.

Next year’s ballot is disturbingly loaded with those accused of steroid use or suspected. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mike Piazza among them.

For Bonds, Clemens and Piazza, it is argued they compiled Hall of Fame numbers before being linked to steroids. For Sosa, it is suggested the stretch of his career where his noteworthy stats were compiled was all steroid related. In addition, not only did Sosa cheat with drugs, but also used a corked bat.

The simple take on steroids is it enables a hitter to hit the ball further. In reality, the issue isn’t whether PEDs add an additional 50 feet to a fly ball, but the extra five that enables it to clear the wall.

Steroids enable the user to continue training during the long, hot days of summer when he otherwise might not. This continued training didn’t make the hitter stronger as much as it increases his bat speed, and this is what generates the power.

Some argue the player still has to hit the ball, which is true, but increased bat speed can turn a normal fly ball into one that barely clears the wall. It is an unfair advantage. It is cheating.

Some apologists for the steroid user claim baseball didn’t have a defined anti-drug policy until recently. While this is true, use without a doctor’s prescription is against the law. It doesn’t matter MLB didn’t have a policy in place at the time Bonds was torching National League pitching.

With the holdovers from this year’s ballot, coupled with those next year who are clean, the pickings are slim, both in terms of PEDs and career numbers, of those qualified who’ll get in as did Larkin.

I have not, and will not vote for a player connected to PEDs. It is cheating and I don’t believe that should be rewarded. Fans should watch games confident in the knowledge what they are seeing to real, but that isn’t the case with drugs.

Not only won’t they get my vote, but I believe their statistics should come with an asterisk they were compiled under suspicion of PED use. This should also be noted on their plaque if they get the necessary votes.

Under the present voting guidelines, I can’t see it any other way.





Jan 06

Mets circling financial wagons.

Although the Mets insist hiring a consulting firm CRG Partners doesn’t indicate the Wilpons are preparing to file for bankruptcy, it is easy to draw that conclusion.

Nonetheless, it is also easy to understand their stance. Things are already abundantly clear about the Mets’ dire financial straits, but vultures are always circling so why make it easy for them?

The Mets are under extreme economic stress so hiring a professional is the sound course. This company worked with the Texas Rangers, and they’ve been to the World Series for the past two seasons.

Maybe it is a coincidence, but the Mets would be foolish not to get as much information as possible.

The Mets could be able to withstand this storm if they receive a favorable ruling when Ponzi goes to court, and CRG might be able to offer some productive counsel should it turn out that way.

Even should bankruptcy come to pass, the Wilpons would need all the advice they can get to protect their other assets other than the Mets.

This is simply a matter of protection, and even if things go against the Wilpons in court there will be the inevitable appeals process, so this won’t be resolved any time soon.


Jan 05

Torre has to be frontrunner for Dodgers.

There are some impressive, heavyweight syndicates vying to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers, with the latest entry the clear frontrunner in my opinion.

TORRE: From bench to boardroom?

I’m thinking slam dunk for Joe Torre.

Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, has potentially the most financial clout, but Bud Selig and the owners will likely view him as a loose cannon, much the way NBA commissioner David Stern does.

The Magic Johnson and Steve Garvey groups bring a local flavor, but they don’t have the cache of Torre.

As the sale of the Boston Red Sox proved, Selig leans toward his favorites and has long admired Torre. That Torre worked for Selig last season also gives him an insight into the inner workings of Major League Baseball the other groups lack.

Torre is a leader on so many levels, with respect within the baseball community and the Los Angeles business community. This is a man with integrity and clout. If he’s truly sincere in this endeavor, I can’t see the team being sold to anybody but him.



Jan 05

Fish better, but don’t get carried away.

It is almost a given the Miami Marlins will finish ahead of the Mets this season, and that was even before the acquisition of Carlos Zambrano. If Zambrano is in shape, physically, mentally and emotionally, he’ll make the Marlins better. But, I’m not ready to put a Dream Team label on the Marlins. We’ve seen how well that works before.

However, the Marlins have made significant upgrades and you can guess the level of enthusiasm. Even so, there’s room for caution. Here’s why:

* A significant shoulder injury limited Josh Johnson to nine starts last season, and he’s clearly their most pronounced concern. Without Johnson, most everything else could be a moot point.

* Mark Buehrle is coming off his 11th straight season of at least 200 innings. That’s a lot of wear and tear, and one must assume his old team, the Chicago White Sox, know or suspect something.

* Zambrano has proven to be an out-of-control head case. He’s been the dangerous combination of an injured malcontent. Good for the Marlins that the Cubs are picking up nearly his entire salary. Zambrano is a gamble, but if things don’t pan out I wonder how he’ll respond, especially if Johnson is unavailable.

* Yeah, yeah, Jose Reyes can be an issue. Let’s not forget he went 0n the disabled list twice last season and all but shut down his running game during the second half. Reyes put up good numbers in his walk year, but we’ll see how motivated he is knowing he’s set for life. Reyes also has the burden of living living up to a $100-million contract. He’s always been sensitive, and at times moody and let’s his concentration wander. He’ll be under new found pressure. Let’s see how he handles it.

* One would have thought Hanley Ramirez wouldn’t have been an issue, that the Marlins would have ran the Reyes deal by him before writing the check. If Ramirez, who has always had some dog in him, is unhappy who can’t see him pulling a Santoni0 Holmes? It has to be a matter of time before he wants a new deal for himself.

* Ozzie Guillen is in a new home with high expectations, and moving with him is that big mouth of his. Guillen runs hot-and-cold on the likability meter. His act should play well in the beginning, but if the Marlins struggle, and he can’t connect with Ramirez for the greater good, it could get messy in that heat.