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

 

 

Nov 11

Beltran willing to move to right

One of Sandy Alderson’s objectives is to convince Carlos Beltran to accept a move to right field and it looks as if that might happen.

In a conference call Thursday, Beltran said he would be open to moving to right field and waiving his no-trade clause.

BELTRAN: Open to move and trade

“I still feel that I can play center field,’’ Beltran said. “But, if the organization has different things in mind, then we have to talk about it.’’

Beltran wants to finish his career with the Mets, but is aware the club would like to shed his $18.5 million salary.

“If the organization is looking at different options, I have to be aware,’’ Beltran said. “So if a situation comes between them and us, we’re going to handle it in a very professional way.’’

The talking could start Saturday when Alderson travels to Puerto Rico for Beltran’s fundraiser for the construction of his baseball academy.

Continue reading

Oct 06

Should the Mets consider dealing Jose Reyes?

Whomever the Mets hire as general manager I will be curious to see his take on Jose Reyes.

Will he believe the team should be built around Reyes, or would the Mets be better served to deal him as an attempt to plug several holes, notably in the rotation and bullpen?

REYES: What's his value?

The path of least resistance would be to pick up Reyes’ $11 million option for 2011, then use that season as the basis to negotiate a long-term extension.

The gamble would be to pull the trigger now, thinking his value has peaked. At 27, Reyes is entering the prime of his career and should command a lot in return.

Reyes has missed a lot of time the past two seasons with health reasons and said he’ll work to strengthen his core in the offseason as to not have a recurrence of the oblique problem.

Reyes had a hot stretch this season when the Mets were playing well, but too often was not the player billed up to be, and the question was raised several times: Is this is good as it will get for Reyes or can he become that elite player?

That might be one of the toughest issues for the new general manager to address.

Reyes had his issues with Manuel, and to a lesser extent Willie Randolph, and the managerial hire might help the general manager decided if he will re-energize the shortstop.

All those variables will be evaluated should the team consider trading him, but that will happen after another important evaluation.

If the new general manager believes an overhaul is needed, and more than few pieces are required to return the Mets to contending status, then, depending on the return, I could see him exploring a Reyes trade.

However, if the assessment is this team isn’t far away, especially with the healthy returns of Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran next season, then holding onto him would be the prudent option because I can’t see obtaining player who will be more valuable to them than a healthy, productive and motivated Reyes.

Aug 11

Mets Chat Room; can they win two in a row?

There are a lot of ugly stats I could throw out you to explain the Mets sliding out of playoff contention, but one sticks out: They haven’t won back-to-back games since June 22-23.

Game #113 vs. Rockies

Kind of says it all, doesn’t it?

The 56-56 Mets will try to keep their faint playoff aspirations alive behind Jon Niese, who’ll try to follow up what Mike Pelfrey gave them last night. Pelfrey, who had been hit hard since last June, threw seven scoreless innings.

Niese (7-5, 3.63 ERA) is 0-1 with a 7.15 ERA in two career starts against the Rockies, including giving up five runs in five innings April 14 in a 6-5, 10-inning loss at Denver.

Niese is coming off a no-decision in his last start when he gave up a run in seven innings at Philadelphia.

The Mets went 2-4 during their Atlanta-Philly road trip, in large part because of the slumping David Wright and Carlos Beltran.

Wright, who led the National League in hitting with a .351 average in June and July, is a paltry 2-for-29 with eight strikeouts in eight game in August.

Meanwhile,  Beltran has been frigid since coming off the DL to start the second half, hitting only .195.

NOTE: I will be working tonight and out of the chat room.


Jul 24

Mets Chat Room; Pelfrey tries to halt his slide.

Game #98 at Dodgers

NOTE: Sorry about last night. I had some computer issues and watched helplessly as the Mets finally won.

The Mets stopped one slide last night, can they halt another this afternoon?

The Mets’ dismal road trip – now 2-7 after Johan Santana’s sparkler last night – continues today in Los Angeles with Mike Pelfrey attempt to end a three-game losing streak in which he has failed to make it out of the fifth inning in each.

“I’m just going through one of the worst stretches of my life,’’ said Pelfrey, who has a 15.30 ERA during that span.

In the worst start of his career Monday in Arizona, Pelfrey gave up six runs on seven hits in 1 1/3 innings.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel said Pelfrey has a mental block when it comes to his fastball; he doesn’t trust it anymore and is relying too much on his secondary pitches.

“He’s not a finesse pitcher, he’s not a trick guy,’’ Manuel said.  “He’s a power, sinker guy, and that’s what he’s got to get back to.’’