Dec 14

Thanks Dad.

Good afternoon folks.

I don’t like going this long without posting for you, but have been away. I drove to Ohio Sunday to visit my father, but the visit was unfortunately extended for a funeral.

Everybody loves their father for their own reasons and I am no different. There are some I can’t share and others I do so openly and proudly.

The most important was his love for his family and the moral principles he lived by, but another was his love for baseball, which he gave to my brother, George, and myself.

Among my earliest and fondest is he coached both our Little League teams. It was here where I learned sportsmanship and Little League baseball is to learn the game and have fun.

His belief was if you showed up for practice you would play regardless of how good you were. The games were seven innings and everybody played at least three. If for some reason you didn’t play three, you automatically started the next game.

The emphasis was enjoyment of the sport, not winning, and definitely not learning at a young age one had limited talent. There would be plenty of time for that in high school sports. There would be plenty of opportunities for life to disappoint and he didn’t believe Little League baseball should be one of them.

Where our league’s boundaries ended at the town line, today there’s a Little League World Series that is not only televised, but extends to foreign shores.

We went for ice cream after the games, win or lose. I grew up and played at a time when there were not even sponsors from local businesses, let alone corporate advertisers and television commercials. It was a time when the game had its natural disappointments, like committing an error or striking out and ten year-old kids don’t need cameras stuck in their faces.

It was a simpler time, one when I wasn’t exposed to the more negative and disturbing aspects of sports.

It is almost cliché to mention it, but the best times were playing catch and him hitting me grounders and fly balls in the front yard. We never shot baskets or tossed a football. It was always baseball.

Growing up, there was no such thing as cable and we only had four channels. We’d sometimes watch “The Game of the Week’’ and almost always the Indians.

Those were bad Indians teams that featured Rocky Colavito, Sam McDowell, Sonny Siebert and Max Alvis. I remember the first game he took me to, won, 5-0, over the Orioles. Years later, when I covered the Orioles, they had every box score in franchise history so I copied that game’s and sent it to him.

My dad took me to a lot of games at old Cleveland Stadium, and when I briefly covered the Indians for a small local paper after college, I was glad when I got to take him.

One of the best perks of the job was getting to take him to spring training and buy him World Series tickets when the Indians finally made it. Too bad he never got to see them win it all. Would have been nice.

My dad grew up a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, and when I covered the Orioles, former Dodgers pitcher Rex Barney was the PA announcer and I brought him up to the press box after a game to introduce them. When I came back to the press box nearly an hour later after working the clubhouse, I was happy to see Barney still talking to him.

The Dodgers were his team and he told me about Ebbets Field and Gil Hodges, Jackie Robinson and Carl Furillo. Our family has roots in New York and New Jersey and we’d visit every summer after Little League season and he’d take me to Yankee and Shea Stadiums.

One year, he insisted we see the Mets against the Dodgers to watch this guy pitch. During my first spring covering the Mets, I got to meet the pitcher.  I introduced myself and told him I didn’t want to interview him – although I did – as much as I wanted to tell him how my father thought it was important I see him pitch.

Then Sandy Koufax asked me what game it was and when I sheepishly told him the Mets ripped him, 10-4, he said he remembered.

Like all fathers and sons, we had our rocky moments, but whatever they were, we always were able to talk about baseball. And, many of our later conversations were about baseball and the Indians.

My dad was 85 and was ill on and off for his last ten years. He was a shut-in and derived much of his pleasure watching the Indians and baseball, often with my sister, Anne.

Baseball was a passion and there are millions like him who feel the same way he did about the sport. This is something I wish the owners of the sport realized about its fans; that people love and cherish the traditions and simplicity of the game. I wish they understood this before they tinker and attempt to change the sport.

My dad taught me a lot of things, but I will always be grateful to him for giving me his love and appreciation of baseball.

I will forever love and miss him, and sure I will never watch another baseball game the same way.

Thanks, Dad.

 

Dec 14

Alderson Appears On FOX Business News

Sandy Alderson appeared today on Fox Business to discuss a myriad of Mets financial and offseason issues.

CLAMAN: Well, you say you’re in charge of looking at everything that’s on the field. David Wright’s on the field. Will you fight to keep him, at least?

ALDERSON: Yes, I think David’s going to be with us for a while, so I wouldn’t worry about losing David and Jose in the same year.

CLAMAN: OK.  And I know it’s inside baseball, so to speak, when you talk about the players.  But this all leads to big questions that come out in that movie, “Moneyball,” for example, that you can build a winning team with less expensive players.  I don’t want to say cheaper, but less expensive players. Is that going to be what the Mets have to do?

ALDERSON: Well, I think, first of all, that “Moneyball” was about finding value.  And whether that was finding value at lower prices, or finding value in players that command higher salaries, the same point is made.  You know, we need to make good decisions with respect to players that don’t make a lot of money, but we need to make good decisions with respect to players who do.

And if we invest lots of money in high-salary players, we need to be right most of the time, just as we need to be right when we spend fewer dollars.

CLAMAN: Well, all of this money that’s thrown around tends to sometimes destabilize a team, because they don’t have enough money to actually run the operations, and people look at these loans that the Mets have taken out.  And I think that there’s a fair question being thrown around, and that is are the Mets in peril of not meeting payroll?

ALDERSON: Oh, no.  That’s not an issue.

CLAMAN: That is not an issue?

ALDERSON: No, absolutely…

CLAMAN: 100 percent?

ALDERSON: No.

CLAMAN: Is this the World Series team in 2012?  Or is this a rebuilding year, as (inaudible)?

ALDERSON: Well, 2012, we won’t be favored in the National League East.  The National League East is pretty stacked, and probably the toughest division in baseball at this point.

But we’re going to be fun to watch, and you know, the nice thing about baseball is that anything can happen.  It’s not necessarily the highest payroll that wins.  It’s very often somebody who’s put together a team, based on not just resources but also quality decisions.  Teams like Tampa Bay are a good example of that, and certainly it can happen here, too.

Click here for the entire video segment or go to MLB.com for the full transcript.

Dec 14

Niese Rumors Continue To Swirl

Site Note: I’m sorry to inform you that John Delcos’ father passed away a few days ago. He’ll be away for a couple of more days. My condolences to John and his family during this difficult time.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the trade buzz surrounding starting pitcher Jon Niese is getting louder and that at least 3 or 4 teams are currently interested in acquiring the young southpaw from the Mets.

“If the package is right, the Mets will deal him,” writes Heyman.

The Mets are believed to be looking for a young pitcher (like Niese?) and a catching prospect in return.

If the Mets have a price established for Niese, it means he’s on the block.

This goes beyond the old adage of “nobody should be untouchable”, although it seems David Wright certainly is for now.

Last week, Joel Sherman of the New York Post mentioned the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox as teams that would certainly be in the hunt for Jon Niese.

My question is this:

If you are serious in your assertion that you are working toward building a relevant team in 2014, why would you trade such a promising left-handed starter who will be just 27-years old and entering his prime years by that time?

Niese, 25, would seem to be a Met you’d tab as a keeper at this point, and when teams like the Yankees and Red Sox want in, it should give the front office some pause to ask themselves why?

Among all the starters in the current rotation (Johan, Dickey, Pelfrey, Niese, Gee), what pitchers stands out as a potential building block for 2014?

Are we seriously going along with this plan of putting all our eggs in one basket with Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jeurys Famila who each have yet to have any success beyond Double-A and in the case of Wheeler, Single-A? Is this really the master plan?

You would think a talented pitcher like Niese, who remains under team control for another four years, would be the last player that would be on the Mets’ trading block.

Right now, Niese is the only young pitcher in the organization who has proved himself to be a quality major league pitcher, while the other three are longshots at best and still have a ways to go before proclaiming either of them as such.

I don’t like the smell of this one bit. If anything, the Mets should be locking Niese up through his arbitration years like they did with David Wright and Jose Reyes what seems like eons ago.

 

Dec 09

Reflections on a wild Winter Meetings.

* I understand the fans’ dismay over the Mets losing Jose Reyes, but I believe it has more to do with the disarray the team is in more than losing the player itself. Reyes’ departure is emblematic to the degree of how far the Mets fell since the 2006 playoffs.

The fact is Reyes makes his living with his legs but hasn’t been completely healthy in three seasons, including two stints on the disabled list last year. The Mets’ financial situation made it cost prohibitive to bring him back at that price and it wasn’t worth the risk. Realistically evaluating things, bringing back Reyes was the wrong play.

If you’re frustrated and angry, it should be at the Mets’ overall condition and not that a brittle player took the money and ran.

* It is premature to give the Angels a pass into the playoffs. Their rotation might be stronger than Texas with the addition of CJ Wilson, but the Rangers’ lineup remains superior and there’s always the chance they might add Prince Fielder.

Do you remember when the Yankees added Alex Rodriguez and Randy Johnson? They were supposed to win multiple World Series, but didn’t win anything until 2009, and by that time Johnson retired. The Phillies were favorites the past two years. How did that work out? Also, how did it work out for the Miami Heat last year and the Philadelphia Eagles this season? Rarely, do things work out smoothly for Dream Teams.

* Don’t you think the Yankees regret the Rodriguez contract? I bet they do. I’d also be willing to bet eventually the Angels and Marlins might regret their wild spending, which never guarantees anything.

* I wouldn’t be surprised if St. Louis made a run at Fielder to take the sting out of losing Albeert Pujols. Even so, the money might be better spent on maintaining because the Cardinals are still a good team and don’t need an overhaul.

* Regarding Fielder, I found it laughable to read the Cubs don’t have the money to spend on Fielder. The Cubs have the resources, but are they willing?

* The Mets believe they bolstered their bullpen, with Sandy Alderson saying they have the seventh through ninth accounted for. Then again, they took from the Toronto Blue Jays, a team with over 20 blown saves last season.

 

Dec 08

Departures of Pujols, Reyes shouldn’t scuttle Cardinals or Mets.

Pockets of fans in St. Louis and New York are understandably upset after Albert Pujols and Jose Reyes sold their legacies and moved them out of town as mercenaries.

Pujols thought $220 million over ten years, his developmental years in St. Louis along with his businesses and foundation weren’t enough, so he took $30 million more and shuffled off to Los Angeles.

Reyes could have had close to $100 million from the Mets – which included incentives – but in the end took roughly $6 million more to move to Miami.

In the end, reports from Pujols supporters and Reyes himself, were that they weren’t “loved” enough by their former teams so they went with the money.

I never expected Reyes to stay. I always believed he’d go to who flashed the most bling. However, I thought Pujols might have been one of the rare few to spend his entire career with one team.

Stan Musial did it and so did Mickey Mantle. So did Cal Ripken and Don Mattingly. They were thinking of a statute for Pujols in St. Louis. Not any more.

Who is to blame?

Actually, nobody.

As much as it would have been nice to think about Pujols staying home, in the end I was naive. It was something I wanted to believe in.

Pujols and Reyes; the Cardinals and Mets; the Angels and Marlins all made business decisions this week.

For Pujols and Reyes it was for the money. Pujols might also have the additional incentive of setting the career home run record with the aid of the designated hitter. Reyes sought the comfort of a guaranteed contract because of his house-of-card hamstrings.

The Angels are competing with the reeling Dodgers for the lion’s marketing share of Los Angeles and now have star power for their television network. As an American League team, the Angels can offer Pujols the DH during the back end of his contract. Pujols is worth all that money to them.

As for the Marlins, they significantly upgraded not only with Reyes, but Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell, and should have a good product in their new stadium. They might not be good enough to catch the Phillies, but with the extra wild card, they have a chance at October.

For the Cardinals and Mets, they have $220 million and $100 million, respectively, to build with. The Cardinals always have been a smart organization and based in the average NL Central, they should be able to rebound and retool quickly.

For the financially strapped Mets, they couldn’t afford to risk that kind of money on Reyes’ brittle hamstrings. The Mets have holes and ownership is drowning in red ink. The last thing the Mets needed was to be on the hook for another brutal contract.

So, nobody is to blame. And, the winners? It seems as if all the players got something they wanted. That is, of course, except fans of Pujols and Reyes, but who is surprised by that?