Aug 18

Stop Fooling Around And Bring Up Conforto

Just a few months ago when optimism still surrounded the Mets, manager Terry Collins moved Michael Conforto to the No. 3 spot in the order and promised he would get at-bats against left-handers. After all, Collins said at the time, Conforto represented the future.

CONFORTO: Needs to play. (Getty)

CONFORTO: Needs to play. (Getty)

None of that lasted long when Conforto went into a slump, as young players frequently do, Collins and the Mets showed no patience. First, Conforto was dropped in the order, then dropped off at the airport to ride the Vegas Shuttle.

Collins said Conforto still “is a big piece of what we want to do,” and when he turns it around in Triple-A he would be back soon. Conforto is tearing it up in Vegas but remains 2,500 miles from New York. So much for that promise.

Things have changed. The Mets are no longer a threat to the Nationals in the NL East and are fading in the wild card. They are four games out and are in danger of being overtaken by Colorado (Mets lead by 2.5 games) and Philadelphia (they lead by 4.5 games).

Yeah, you read that last part correctly.

Conforto needs to come up now. The best position for him is left field, but that won’t happen because the Mets insist on placating Yoenis Cespedes, who can’t, or refuses, to play center. Conforto is willing to try center, but where does that leave Curtis Granderson?

Since Cespedes won’t budge – the Mets should hope he opts out and leaves – it’s down to the young guy they can push around in Conforto or the veteran with the big salary and small production in Granderson. The Mets won’t touch Cespedes; GM Sandy Alderson must talk to him through “his people.”

The decision on what to do with the Mets’ outfield is a battle of egos and dollars over the potential of young talent. That’s not the way to go about turning your season around.

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Mar 02

Collins: “Time To Get To Work”

So far it has been all fun and giggles for the Mets in the early days of spring training, but with the exhibition schedule to begin Thursday against the Nationals, manager Terry Collins said it’s time to get serious.

His timing was right. It shows he has his fingers on the pulse of his team.

COLLINS: Time to get to work.  (AP)

COLLINS: Time to get to work. (AP)

Six straight days of showing up in camp with a different car by Yoenis Cespedes is one thing. It’s his money and he can do what he wants with it. Then there was Cespedes shelling out $7,000 for a prize pig. Again, it’s his money and if he throws a BBQ for his teammates, well, that’s more team bonding.

The kicker came when Cespedes and Noah Syndergaard rode horses into camp yesterday. That was the kicker for Collins, who thought there might have been too much fooling around, if not a little bit of recklessness because after all, either one of those guys could have fallen off and gotten hurt.

“The fun time is over,” Collins told reporters. “It’s time to finally get ready for baseball.”

As far as Cespedes, Collins doesn’t have a problem with him having fun for now.

“He does his drills,” Collins said. “He works hard. He’s getting ready to play. He’s having a little fun for the time being. But, like I said, it’s time to get ready for baseball now.”

Jan 31

Time To Evaluate All All-Star Games

Good morning. On this bright and sunny – but cold – Sunday morning. Plenty of snow despite the sun. On this last day of January, with the Super Bowl a week away, what better time to talk about the All-Star Games, in all sports?

With the NHL and NFL All-Star Games today it got me to thinking – as I usually do – about the nature of the All-Star Games. They have become obsolete with no compelling reason to watch any of them. All of the sports, with the exception of football, feature some kind of skills competition the day prior to the game.

The hockey skills are the most interesting, mostly because I don’t see that much hockey. The NBA’s three-point demonstration is far more challenging than the slam dunk competition. Jumping over a car or running the length of the court does nothing for me. The slam dunk show does symbolize what the sport has become, which is a “look at me,” exhibition.

The NBA game itself is a playground game of one-on-one duels broken up by an occasional demonstrations of trick passing, which is to remind us these exceptional athletes can pass when the mood strikes them. Of course, the NBA game wouldn’t be complete without some bitching and moaning from LeBron James, who despite the limited rosters complains because there aren’t three Cavaliers on the team. He especially notes the absence of Kyrie Irving, who had played in all but 18 games when the teams were announced.

Then again, this is James, who earlier this week boasted of his “high basketball IQ.” For somebody supposedly so smart, how come he can’t figure out such basic things as roster size, not to mention something so basic as to get along with his coach?

There is no designated skills competition in the NFL game, primarily because there isn’t a headhunting exhibition. The NFL game is the one that should first be abandoned. A player gets fined for skipping the NHL game even with a legitimate injury, which shows the importance the league places on the game. Conversely, seven New England Patriots will skip today’s game in a hissy fit for losing to Denver. Not a peep from the NFL office or the supposedly sophisticated Boston media which goes mostly spineless when it come to the Patriots.

This brings us to the baseball All-Star Game, whose highlight, unfortunately, is the Home Run Derby. Not only do some players bring a malaise to the game, but the idea of making an exhibition game determine something as important as home field advantage in the World Series is beyond stupid.

I hate to be someone who says, “the way things used to be,” but in this case that’s the way it is. From the stuffing of the ballot box (there’s some degree of checks and balances when they limit the voting to only 35 votes, but you can log on under a different screen name and vote again) to the Derby to the home field, the baseball game has lost its meaning.

And, that’s too bad because the All-Star games used to mean something. Part of the reason is the mystery of the other league is gone. Growing up in Cleveland, I rarely got to see the Dodgers or Giants. I used to drive to Cincinnati or Pittsburgh, or watch the Mets when my family visited New York. But, that curiosity is gone with the gimmick of interleague play and cable television. These days you can see all the San Diego Padres games you want, whether you live in Cleveland, Alaska or the Congo. The mystery is gone.

This year the Padres will host the game. Last year it was Cincinnati. Next year it will be the Marlins. That’s three National League parks in a row. The game is no longer rotated by leagues, but as a reward for building a new stadium. That’s why the Mets got their game, and Minnesota. Actually, it will be more accurate to say in most cases it is a reward for coaxing the taxpayers to pay for the new buildings (this was not the case with the Mets).

Yet, MLB, like the other sports, puts make-up on their games to hide the ugliness that their All-Star Games have become. But, as the saying does, “if you put lipstick on a pig it’s still a pig.”

But, if I want pig, I’ll eat BBQ ribs. There’s no need to watch any of the All-Star games because there’s nothing compelling about any of them. Too bad, because they used to have value and I used to love watching.

Spring training is 18 days away, so I thought I’d get a head start on my bitching and moaning.

Oct 09

Put up or shut up ….

The Mets have always been an organization that has placed a lot of premium on talking and hoping for the best. We don’t often see times when they take charge in determining their destiny. Even Johan Santana, they admit, was because the market came back to them.

We have now learned the train wreck that was the 2009 season was the fault of coaches Sandy Alomar Sr. and Luis Alicea, both with limited responsibilities. It wasn’t as if they controlled a pitching staff that walked over 600 hitters or an offense that hit less than 100 homers.

Mets ownership is saying Omar Minaya has the resources to spend in the free-agent market and the nine-lived general manager is saying he will make trades despite a thin farm system.

The Mets have their new stadium, they have their showplace, which was filled for the most part this summer. But, it won’t be long before Citi Field won’t be a magnet anymore. It happened in Camden Yards and Jacobs Field. Eventually, thirty brands of microbrew, BBQ and clam chowder aren’t a draw anymore. Fans will soon learn it is easier to go to a local pub for those things than pay the price to drive out to Queens.

The Braves improved this year as did the Marlins, and we know the Phillies will be aggressive. If the Mets don’t dramatically improve, they could be looking up for a number of seasons to come. This offseason has the potential to shape the Mets for the next several seasons. If they prove to be all talk and fizzle again, we’ll be faced with another rebuilding phase.

Jul 24

Bottom line: Wilpons need to speak up.

First things first, the Wilpons aren’t selling the Mets. The future of the team is in their hands, and whomever they entrust with the reigns. Right now it is Omar Minaya, and most aspects of the franchise is heading south.

The major league team and two top minor league affiliates are all playing below .500. The drop is worse below, which tells you the talent there is not adequate either for immediate help or in making a big time trade. And, for the latter, there aren’t enough chips to patch all the holes.

WILPONS: Need to speak up.

WILPONS: Need to speak up.


Tony Bernazard, whose responsibility it is to stock and train that farm system, shares greatly in that.

A substantial part of the team is on the disabled list, and the medical staff is under scrutiny. However, there is no real common thread to the injury other than some players tried to push themselves. There is always the wonder, after the Ryan Church episode last season, of injuries being mishandled. Of those players on the disabled list, only Carlos Beltran has raised the issue, and he’s a big enough star to where what he says must be taken seriously.

There are rumblings about the job security of Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel. Despite the supposed vote of confidence, we know those aren’t etched in stone. Teams always say things like that before dropping the ax. If a significant number of the injured returns and the Mets make a run but fall short, injuries should give them a pass.

However, it would be a grave mistake throwing everything about this season under the umbrella of injuries because there is no much wrong with this team.

It doesn’t hit well, especially with runners in scoring position. Howard Johnson has to take some responsibility there. David Wright’s power outage has been a mystery. Why would he change his mechanics because to the stadium? Why would anybody let him? He’s always been around .300, which is where he is now. If he mechanics were changed and he was hitting .350, it would be more acceptable. What isn’t acceptable are the number of strikeouts.

Then there is Daniel Murphy. He appears rushed. A bust in left, he’s comfortable at first defensively, but his offense – the strength of his game – has deteriorated.

Look at also what Johnson has had to work with. Fernando Tatis played over his head last season, and this year is more his norm. Most of the starters started the season as role players and are getting more time than they should.

Pitching? Well, so much was counted on from Oliver Perez, but his failure falls on many levels. No way, is he worth the contract. Choosing Perez over Derek Lowe and Randy Wolf is on Minaya. Letting him play in the WBC is also on Minaya, and the Wilpons, who give their unconditional support to the meaningless exhibition series. Pitching coach Dan Warthen hasn’t been able to harness him. Then, there is Perez himself, who believes walks aren’t such a big deal.

Personally, I think Perez is as good as he’s going to be. I’m tired of hearing about his potential. If the Mets can’t trade him, perhaps they should consider putting him in the bullpen, where he can be overpowering for an inning or two.

BERNAZARD: Shameful.

BERNAZARD: Shamed Mets.


With everything unraveling with the Mets, now the team is being embarrassed by Bernazard’s behavior. Bernazard is currently under house arrest in New Jersey with the perception his relationship with Jeff Wilpon could save his job.

If it does, who will be surprised?

If it does not, there will be no impact on the field as Bernazard can’t do anything about the team scoring runs or all the problems listed above.

Bernazard’s firing, which would be deserved, will only act as a diversion and him being made a potential scapegoat.

The hard core fans are upset, but many of those who go to Citi Field are numbed by the excitement of the new park. Let’s go get some BBQ or clam chowder. How many types of beer do they sell?

However, even in New York, the newness of the park won’t last long if the team doesn’t perform. It was that way in Baltimore. In Toronto. In Pittsburgh. In Washington.

Build it and they will come. Play well and they will stay.

During this tumultuous time with the franchise, the lone voice has been Minaya’s, and that’s not good enough. Times are strained enough now where the Wilpons, preferably both, step up with their state-of-the-team address.

The ticket-buying public must be assured of what direction is the team headed. Among other things, it should include statements on whether the team is a buyer or seller at the trade deadline. Are they waiting for the injured to return? They should state firmly all aspects of the organization will be under review after the season and nobody is safe. They should state what direction they will take in the offseason to rebuild. They should state its concern on the medical staff and is there blame for the injuries or bad luck.

No aspect of the team should be spared the scrutiny, because few things are right with it.