Jan 03

Nationals reportedly in it for Fielder.

Depending on whom you read, the Nationals are either in it or don’t have an interest in Prince Fielder. I’m thinking they’ll make an offer, but only if they’ll give him an out clause similar to that the Yankees had in contracts with CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez.

FIELDER: Prince goes to Washington?

The Nationals have worked well with Fielder’s agent, Scott Boras, who had the out in the Rodriguez deal. It would be a win-win for all.

For Fielder, it would be a chance to repeat the process and make more money. For the Nationals, if Fielder turns out to be a bust, isn’t in shape, or they aren’t winning, it would be a chance to walk away.

Let’s assume the Nationals get Fielder and he posts big numbers. That should offer protection for Jayson Werth and possibly put them in wild-card contention. Of course, it comes down to pitching, which is what we’ve said for years about the Mets.

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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?

Jul 13

Today in Mets’ History: Fire sale begins with K-Rod. Vote in poll.

There were always assumptions made of this season, and early today one became reality in a positive stroke for the Mets.

The Mets traded reliever Francisco Rodriguez and $5 million in cash to the Milwaukee Brewers for two players to be named later. Never mind the two players, the Mets won because they got out from under Rodriguez’s daunting $17.5 million vesting option.

RODRIGUEZ: We don't hate to see you go.

The Mets’ press release was timed at 12:25 a.m., so on this date in club history the fire sale began. And, make no mistake, there will be a sale regardless of how well the team has played, but we knew that all along.

Carlos Beltran, who said at the All-Star Game he would accept a deal, is on deck.

“This trade allows us to develop and more fully utilize other members of our 2011 bullpen and offers some payroll relief as well,’’ GM Sandy Alderson said of shedding Rodriguez.

Rodriguez’s option kicks in if he finishes 55 games, which would have been a certainty at the rate he was going. That’s something the financially struggling Mets desperately needed to avoid as they deliberate what to do with Jose Reyes.

Let’s face it, as well as the Mets played in the first half, they face too steep a hill to reach the playoffs as a wild card, much less win the division. They trail Philly by 11 games and wild-card leader Atlanta by 7.5, but have four teams to leapfrog to reach the Braves.

Of all the players the Mets reportedly were seeking to deal, Rodriguez was the priority because of his option. That priority became more acute after Rodriguez dumped his agent and hired Scott Boras.

Rodriguez was to be paid $11.5 million this season, and considering the $5 million they are kicking in, the Mets will pay all but $750,000 due him.

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Jun 23

Today in Mets’ History: Piersall tours the bases backwards.

Jimmy Piersall is one of dozens of major leaguers who played with the Mets at the tail end of his career.

And, what a memorable career it was. He wasn’t always spectacular, but he was entertaining, such as on this date in 1963 while with the Mets he celebrated his 100th career homer by rounding the bases backwards.

PIERSALL: Magical Mystery Tour

Two days later he was released by manager Casey Stengel, who said of him: “He’s great, but you have to play him in a cage.’’

He wasn’t a Hall of Fame player, but definitely a Hall of Fame personality and character, who suffered from bipolar disorder was committed to a mental hospital in 1952. His experience led to his autobiography, “Fear Strikes Out,’’ which became a movie.

In his book, Piersall wrote: “Probably the best thing that ever happened to me was going nuts. Whoever heard of Jimmy Piersall until that happened?”

Piersall’s mother, Mary, suffered from mental illness and was committed to a sanitarium, and it wasn’t too deep in his career that her son began showing bizarre, uncontrollable behavior.

Piersall would take a bow after catches in the outfield. He brawled with Billy Martin – then again, who didn’t? – then fought with his teammate Mickey McDermott. He snorted like a pig at Satchel Paige.

Piersall’s best years were with the Red Sox, when he made two All-Star teams, including in 1956 when he hit .293 with 14 homers and 87 RBI. He hit 19 homers the following year, but after his average dropped to .237 in 1958 he was traded to Cleveland.

While with the Indians, he threw a ball at the Comiskey Park scoreboard in Chicago, and after being dusted by Yankees pitcher Jim Coates, threw his bat at him.

Piersall was eventually traded to Washington, and the Senators dealt him to the Mets for Gil Hodges.

Stengel, who managed Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, said of Piersall: “I thought Joe DiMaggio was the greatest defensive outfielder I ever saw, but I have to rate Piersall better.’’

Following his release from the Mets, Piersall signed with the Angels. After three seasons with the Angels, he was released in 1967 and eventually retired.

After he retired, Piersall bounced around baseball in several capacities, including being hired by Martin in Texas as an outfield instructor, and later as a broadcaster with the White Sox teamed with Harry Caray.

PIERSALL’s CAREER