Oct 30

Van Wagenen And Wilpon Gloss Over Conflict Of Interest Issue

Both former-agent and new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen and Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon glossed over the conflict-of-interest issue at today’s Citi Field press conference.

As a player agent for Creative Artists Agency, Van Wageman’s responsibility was to negotiate the most lucrative contract for his clients. As the 13th general manager in Mets’ history, his responsibility is to build a team, which isn’t always in the best interests of the players he’s worked for over the past 18 years.

It was one of the first questions asked this afternoon, and before Van Wagenen could answer, Wilpon interrupted and claimed he spoke with the Commissioner’s Office and Major League Players Association chief Tony Clark and said, ”we have provisions in Brodie’s contract to deal with any conflicts of interest.”

What those provisions are, neither Wilpon nor Van Wagenen would say. Van Wagenen, who, as expected, appeared polished and highly professional, said: ”The goals between players and management are more in line than people think.”

How so, Van Wagenen wouldn’t elaborate, leading to speculation there’s still believed to be a cobra-mongoose relationship between the two sides.

This summer, Van Wagenen said the Mets should sign his top client Jacob deGrom to a long-term extension and reiterated that today: “I believe Jacob deGrom is an incredible talent and I hope to keep him for a long time.”

As deGrom’s agent, the pitcher undoubtedly shared highly confidential information with his agent, such as how long he plans to say; what he would sign for; his problems with management and manager Mickey Callaway; issues with his teammates; and issues with playing in New York, all which the player wouldn’t want Mets management and ownership to know.

However, Van Wagenen is now part of Mets’ management, and since he can’t un-hear something, what will he do now?

Aug 20

The Mets Put Smith It Position To Make Error

Zack Wheeler now knows what Jacob deGrom has felt like most of this season with the Mets wasting another one of his solid starts and coming away with a no-decision. Wheeler has been one of the Mets’ bright spot in this dark season and watched his team lose, 2-1, in 13 innings to the San Francisco Giants, Monday at Citi Field.

I GOT IT, YOU TAKE IT. (AP)

I GOT IT, YOU TAKE IT. (AP)

The Mets were beaten because two pop-ups fell in against the shift in the seventh, and Dominic Smith – playing left field – collided with Amed Rosario for a run-producing error.

“It’s frustrating when you make your pitch and there’s no result,’’ Wheeler said. “We should have had somebody there.’’

Wheeler said the shift gives and takes away, “and it’s part of the game.’’

What shouldn’t be part of the game is to have a first baseman play left field. That has the disaster written all over it. Manager Mickey Callaway threw Smith under the bus and put most of the blame on Smith.

“It’s inexperience,’’ Callaway said. “He hasn’t done this a lot. He has a learning curve he has to go through. That’s an easy play for our team and we messed it up. We cost ourselves the game tonight with fundamental stuff.’’

Smith played deep on the play and called for the ball late.

“I called it way too late,’’ Smith said. “That’s on me.’’

No, it’s on the Mets, who played Smith in left field, instead of his natural first base. Seriously, don’t the Mets already know all they need to know about Wilmer Flores, who is not their first baseman of the future?

The Mets have been telling us Smith is their first baseman of the future, and with the season long since over, he should be getting at-bats at the position. This is mismanagement at its highest.

Jul 25

Cespedes Done Until Next June At Earliest

The Mets, who have spent the better part of this lost season hoping Yoenis Cespedes would return from the disabled list, don’t have that problem any longer.

Cespedes returned from the disabled list Friday to homer against the Yankees, then dropped an even bigger bombshell after the game when he said he would need surgery on both heels and could miss up to ten months.

That would put his return at early June, but after assistant general manager John Ricco said today the Mets agreed he’ll have two surgeries three months apart that could put his return next year to sometime in August.

The official diagnosis was calcifications around both Achilles tendons and bone spurs on each heel.

But, you’re the Mets you might not even expect to see Cespedes at all next year.

After the 2016 season, Cespedes signed a four-year, $110 million contract, but by the time this year is over he will have played in just 119 of a potential 324 games. What’s even more aggravating is Ricco knew of Cespedes’ heel problems when they signed him in November of 2016, a test run season for him in which he was injured and played in only 132 games.

Cespedes, at his press conference today at Citi Field, said through an interpreter: ‘’Nobody would like to go through surgery at any time. I try to do my best to stay on the field and play a lot, but we exhausted all of the conservative treatment options. … I was not able to be on the field and play the same way I used to.”

The 32-year-old Cespedes missed 81 games last season, and went on the disabled list, May 14, with a hip flexor strain and missed nine weeks. The Mets believe the calcification in Cespedes’ heels forced him to change is running style resulting in the hip flexor strain.

“The general consensus is the pain he is feeling in his heels has definitely contributed to a change in his running style, because he is trying to avoid what is causing the pain,” Ricco said. “And that can certainly lead to other lower-extremity issues, whether they be the quad, hamstring or the hip. You get to the point where that doesn’t make any sense, because you’re just going to stay in that cycle.

“We had him checked out by the doctors, and they’ve agreed that we’ve exhausted the conservative options. Now, surgery is really the only way to resolve this issue.”

Ricco did say the Mets had an insurance on Cespedes similar to the one they took out on David Wright. That policy enables the Mets to recoup up to 75 percent of the $20 million Wright makes annually. Ricco wouldn’t say how the Mets would spend the money recovered through insurance.

“We haven’t gone down the road to what this means toward our plan moving forward,” Ricco said. “Generally, we don’t get into details of the insurance policy.”

 

Jul 10

Leave Keith Alone

If you spent any time on the Internet today, then you know this season is over for the Mets. Instead of talking about trading Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard, the buzz was Keith Hernandez’s refusal to sign an autograph last night after his clinic for T-ballers.

Nobody was even bitching about Yoenis Cespedes. It was all about Hernandez not signing for a kid.

HERNANDEZ: Give him a break. (FOX)

HERNANDEZ: Give him a break. (FOX)

Hernandez was on the clock last night. Hernandez giving batting tips was part of an in-game feature and after the inning, he had to get back to the booth.

It’s his job and Hernandez, who, I’ve seen is very willing to sign, but doesn’t like to be bothered when he’s working.

The Mets or SNY should have had guides down there to escort Hernandez to the agent and ward off fans. There should have been an announcement no autographs would be signed.

If Hernandez signed one, he had to sign two, then three, then four, then when does it end?

The kid, unlike many I’ve seen, wasn’t obnoxious, and neither was Hernandez when he refused. Getting an autograph at Citi Field isn’t easy to do as you’re muscling your way into the position with other fans and there’s a shortage of time.

It pays to be polite, say please and thank you. I’ve seen fans stand behind the dugout and scream, “Hey Jeter, come here and sign this.’’ I’ve seen others who weren’t as polite when the player ignored them.

Don’t forget, when players are taking batting practice, they are working. Respect that.

The best way to get an autograph is to send a self-addressed, stamped envelope along with your photo or baseball card.

I wouldn’t send baseballs, bats, T-shirts or anything other than a flat photo. And, don’t bother with a long letter as it won’t get read and will be trashed.

I’ve seen plenty of players sit in front of their lockers to sign photos and cards. Most of them take this seriously and will likely respond.

But, if you send more than one item to be signed you’ll likely be mistaken as a trader and be ignored. If you have two items, send two envelopes.

Keith is usually kind and accommodating. He was working last night, so give him a break.

Jun 26

Alderson Leaves Mets As Cancer Returns

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is taking a leave of absence to receive continued treatment on his cancer. Alderson has been receiving chemotherapy since his cancer returned since the end of April.

Alderson, 70, was initially diagnosed with cancer in September of 2015 shortly before the Mets made their improbable run to the World Series.

ALDERSON: Leaves Mets, maybe for good. (AP)

ALDERSON: Leaves Mets, maybe for good. (AP)

Alderson, speaking with Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon at his side prior to tonight’s game at Citi Field, said he will forfeit all his decision-making responsibilities to his staff of John Ricco, Omar Minaya and J.P. Ricciardi, all decisions – the trade deadline is July 31 – will go through Wilpon.

“I’m just really concerned for Sandy’s health,” Wilpon said, “and that he’s back with his family, and doing everything he can to make sure he weathers this storm the best he can.”

Wilpon did not comment of the Mets’ new chain-of-command or Alderson’s future, but the general manager hinted he might not return.

“If I were to look at it on the merits, I’m not sure coming back is warranted,’’ Alderson said, but wouldn’t define the term `merits.’ Although, reaching the 2015 World Series was the pinnacle.

Alderson’s record with the Mets is 582-628, including 31-45 this season. His marquee decisions were trading Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler; buying out Jason Bay, Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo; signing David Wright to an eight-year, $138-million contract; trading Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey for Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud; trading for Yoenis Cespedes, then extending him to a four-year, $110-million contract; firing manager Terry Collins, and finally giving up on Matt Harvey and trading him to the Reds this year.

Alderson has also been reluctant to spend lavishly in the free-agent market and unable to build up the farm system. Alderson also assumed responsibility for the Mets’ miserable season.

“I feel badly that we’ve had the season that we have had to date,” Alderson said. “I feel personally responsible for the results that we’ve had. At the same time, I have confidence in our manager, our coaching staff, our players, that this will change. John, Omar [and] J.P., I’m sure, will take a hard look at where we are, maybe take a fresh look at where we are. And I have every confidence that they will serve the franchise well over the next few months through the end of the season.

“I’m really disappointed with where we are and disappointed to have left Mets fans in this situation. I’ve said many times, I really do this to make other people happy. When you’re not making people happy, it’s difficult.

“None of us writes his or her script. You deal with circumstances as they arise. I am grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had here, all the opportunities I’ve had in the game, and for whatever opportunities may arise in the future. This isn’t Disney World. We have to deal with life as it presents itself, and I’m OK with that.’’