Dec 01

Mets bring back Cora ….

Sorry for the late post on this. The Mets will bring back Alex Cora to a one-year, $2 million contract for the 2010 season with a vested club option for 2011.

Which means if he plays as much as he did last year, a contract would kick in for the 2011 season. Because of the Jose Reyes injury, Cora played far more than the Mets anticipated when they signed him. He’s a great clubhouse presence by all accounts, a professional Reyes and others can learn from.

They can learn from him because he’s 34 years old.

I like, and I don’t like, this move. The Mets would have had to get a utility infielder anyway, so they might as well bring back somebody who has been productive for them. That’s the plus side.

On the down side, what really would have been the demand for Cora next winter? Had he not been given the option, I’m sure the Mets could have brought him back for 2011. It’s basically a two-year deal, something that didn’t work out with Moises Alou and Orlando Hernandez.

In a prepared statement, Cora said: “I am excited about coming back. We have a lot to prove as a team after what happened last year. As for me personally, there is unfinished business. I was hurt a great deal of the time and I really wasn’t able to perform like I know I can. I’m healthy now and I can’t wait to get to spring training. We all have something to prove.”

ON DECK: Mets offseason acquisitions.

Dec 01

Delgado decision today …. what should they do?

DELGADO: Won't likely offer arbitration.

DELGADO: Won't likely offer arbitration.

Today is the deadline for teams to offer salary arbitration to their own free agents. Doing so enables them to receive draft pick compensation if the players signs with another team. OK, that’s the good news.

The bad news is the player might accept, and in the case of Carlos Delgado, he might accept and the Mets could be on the hook for up to $12 million, which is what he made last year. If I’m Delgado, I accept in a heartbeat because right now, with his injury history and age they won’t be lining up for him.

Another player is Fernando Tatis, who had some good moments with the Mets, but not enough to where he is a “must sign.”

If the Mets don’t offer arbitration and they become free agents, the team can try to re-sign them for a lower cost. Good luck in that. If Delgado proves he’s healthy playing in the Puerto Rican winter league, he’ll get a decent contract.

Should the Mets offer arbitration and risk taking back an aged player with an injury history or should they move on?

ON DECK: Mets bring back Alex Cora later this morning.

Dec 01

On this Date ….

Looking Back ....

Looking Back ....

…. In 1998, the Mets dealt catcher Todd Hundley and minor league pitcher Arnold Gooch to the Dodgers for catcher Charles Johnson and Roger Cedeno. The Mets then swap Johnson to the Orioles for reliever Armando Benitez.

Benitez had a checkered career with the Mets, saving 158 games in parts of five seasons. Of course, what most remember about him was the games he didn’t save, particularly against the Braves. Benitez’s history was to unravel if something went wrong. A bloop or bad call could turn into a blown save, and it would start a string of three or four bad outings.

The Mets eventually traded him to the Yankees. Benitez would sign with the Giants and his last game was in 2008.

I covered Benitez with the Orioles and Yankees. I’ll always remember him spitting the bit in the 1997 ALCS, playing a significant part in at least three of the Orioles’ losses. The one moment that crystalizes in my memory is, when after giving up a homer, he plunked Tino Martinez in the back. Then he stood off the mound and gestured the Yankees to come get him.

They did.

ON DECK: What to do about Carlos Delgado later this morning.

Nov 30

How much should you know?

Yes, they are in the public eye, and yes your dollars go toward their salaries. But, just what should your right to know be?

Within the past few days, golfer Tiger Woods and Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore had their personal lives go public. Woods, with the holiday car accident, that might have been triggered by an alleged affair, and Sizemore, for nude photos of himself to his girlfriend now on the Internet.

As a journalist, I want to know as much as I can, but the off-the-field behavior would have to impact his performance as an athlete or his relationship with the public. If image is such that they capitalize on endorsements with their image, and that image becomes tainted, then it should be out there for all to see. In Woods’ case, he already pulled out of a tournament. He’s a corporate spokesman; his image gets him commercial money. That image is now on the line, and because of it, the events of that night should be made public.

As much as he would like it, there are no mulligans for Woods.

If Sizemore gets heckled to where he loses concentration and it hurts his play, yeah, that would count, also. He’s also the Indians’ most visible – no pun intended – player. The team sells tickets because of Sizemore’s play and image.

I get comments all the time from people telling me why their personal lives are an issue, and my response it that above and that people read that stuff. Woods was the number one topic on Google over the weekend.

So, tell me why or why not an athlete’s private lives should be made public.

Nov 30

Roberto Alomar deserves the Hall ….

It was one moment of uncontrollable action in an otherwise stellar, steady career. Roberto Alomar’s moment came in Toronto, Sept. 27, 1996, while as a member of the Baltimore Orioles, in a flash of blind rage and runaway temper, he spat on umpire John Hirschbeck.

ALOMAR: In better times.

ALOMAR: In better times.

It was stupidity and immaturity, and the moment hung over him the rest of his career, which began in San Diego, and included stops in Toronto (where he won two World Series rings, Baltimore, Cleveland, the Mets and Tampa Bay.

However, it shouldn’t keep him out of the Hall of Fame, nor should his brief, unproductive, seemingly mailed-in performance with the Mets.

I covered Alomar for two seasons in Baltimore, and this was a five-tool second baseman who could dominate a game as well as any slugger.

In a game against Boston, he homered, beat out a bunt and stole a base, made a scintillating back-handed diving catch of a line drive, and made a throw I still envision. He was about 70 feet down the right field line for the cutoff, but knowing he had no chance at the runner at home, threw behind the runner rounding third to nail him.

ALOMAR: Ten Gold Gloves.

ALOMAR: Ten Gold Gloves.

He made plays like that all the time and with the game on the line I wanted him up as much as anybody.

Said former teammate Pat Hentgen: “He was just so good at everything. He ran the bases well, he was a clutch hitter, he hit for power, he played tremendous defense, and he made everyone around him better defensively. Just a clutch performer. He always rose to the occasion.”

Except that day in Toronto.

There are several criteria for being a Hall of Famer, but they are subjective to the voter. Alomar gets mine because he dominated his position for over a decade. There was no better second baseman. He went to 12 All-Star Games and won ten Gold Gloves.

Numbers wise, among second basemen, he ranks first in steals, sixth in hits and seventh in runs scored. Just numbers, but when the game was in the balance he dominated.

He’ll get my vote.