Oct 26

Mets’ nightmare comes true ….

The worst case scenario for Mets’ fans of a World Series between their two greatest rivals – the Yankees and Phillies – has reached fruition.

The Mets were left eating the dust of both, and they don’t appear to be in position to challenge either any time soon.

New York City, which some have argued is a National League town, belongs totally to the Yankees, who are in their 40th World Series seeking their 27th championship. Four World Series; two titles for the Mets.

YANKEES: Always the Mets' yardstick.

YANKEES: Always the Mets' yardstick.


The National League, for the second straight season, is owned by Philadelphia, seeking to become the first repeat champion since the Yankees, 1998-2000.

Many fans I speak to say they won’t watch, saying they don’t know whom to hate more. Selfishly, that’s not good news for me and the blog. Hopefully, the “baseball fan” in them will tune in.

However, the Mets and their fans, instead of lamenting their closed window, which slammed shut after a second straight September collapse in 2008, should step back and learn from their two tormentors.

The Mets, and probably nobody else, will match the October success the Yankees built over the last century. So what? What’s important is now.

Both teams opened new stadiums this summer, but the Yankees brought with them a revamped and retooled team. The Yankees took care of multiple needs last winter and added power in Mark Teixeira and pitching in CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett. The Mets, also having multiple needs, but addressed only the bullpen with the belief things will get better with a veteran closer.

Rarely does it work that way, as building one area of a team doesn’t address the other voids. Watch, win or lose over the next week, the Yankees will address their team aggressively in the offseason. They know they don’t have enough starting pitching; they know there are bullpen questions; the outfield is an issue with the possible departures of Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon.

The difference between the Yankees and Mets is that the team in the Bronx has a mission statement every season of WINNING the World Series. Getting there is not enough. And, please, let’s not hear about the Yankees’ unlimited resources. The Mets’ payroll is also formidable, but their approach is not nearly as aggressive.

PHILLIES: The team to beat.

PHILLIES: The team to beat.


As for the Phillies, they’ve also been more aggressive in filling holes than the Mets. The Phillies have a home grown core (Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins) as do the Mets (David Wright and Jose Reyes), but Philadelphia has been superior in filling its holes (Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez and Cliff Lee).

The Phillies will not stand still, even should they repeat. Unlike the Mets, the Phillies have the minor league resources to package should they decide to pursue Roy Halladay. The Yankees, of course, have always been known to be willing to part with minor league talent to win immediately.

Compounding the Mets’ dilemma with the Phillies, is that they aren’t their only competition in the National League East. Both Florida and Atlanta improved this season to overtake the Mets.

Both the Phillies and Mets, from the front office to the dugout, have a mindset beyond that of the Mets’ thinking, which gives the appearance of settling to become competitive.

The Mets had a good year at the gate, drawing 3.1 million (averaging 38,000), which was seventh in the majors (the Yankees and Phillies finished 2-3). However, rave reviews for Citi Field aren’t what’s important in the big picture. To keep drawing, and even increasing attendance is dependent on the quality of the product on the field.

Eventually, Citi Field will stop becoming a fan magnet, which is what happened in Baltimore and Cleveland when the Orioles and Indians hit the skids. Citi Field is too expensive, and New York City offers so many other diversions, for fans to keep coming out of curiosity.

Right now, Mets’ fans should only be curious about one thing: What is their team going to do to close the gap on the Phillies and Yankees?

Oct 18

No big names coming ….

The names are enticing with Matt Holliday and Roy Halladay, Jason Bay and John Lackey. Any, and all would make the Mets a better team in 2010. Except, I don’t believe any will be playing in Citi Field next summer in the home whites.

Bay appears to be staying in Boston and Holliday will be costly. The Mets don’t have the prospects package, nor the inclination to pay a package similar to the one they gave Johan Santana, to acquire Halladay. And, reportedly Lackey doesn’t want to play in New York.

More and more I believe the Mets are hoping their injured players return and the best they’ll get in a middle-tier free-agent pitcher to plug into their beleaguered rotation.

It is premature to say the Mets don’t have a plan, but there isn’t a lot of reason to be optimistic right now.

Oct 16

It’s about heart ….

In watching the Phillies play, I would think Mets fans would fall in love with this team if they played in Citi Field. They show the heart and hustle and spunk Mets fans demand from their team, but haven’t received in a long time.

The Phillies make things happen, and as powerful as they are, it isn’t always with the long ball. In that regard, they and the Angels are the playoff teams having the grit Mets fans desire for their team.

The Yankees?

The Yankees are the Yankees, they’ll always be good because they can’t accept losing. Mets fans would love that mentality from their management. But, the Yankees, and their fans, also carry a sense of entitlement with them that is annoying.

I believe, that after the disappointment of the 2006 season, the Mets carried with them a sense of expectations of winning. That’s good, but the reality was they overestimated themselves and believed they were better than they were, which isn’t good.

Hopefully, and I have my doubts, the Mets learned from the 2009 train wreck. If they believe that just being healthy will put them over the top, they are mistaken. This team has talent, but not enough. It lacks the pitching, the fundamental base, and all too often, the heart of a champion.

There were far too many times this season when they mailed it in.

Oct 13

Looking ahead to 2010 ….

Just a blog note: This is the 800th post since I started this blog. Thanks to you for reading and your responses. You don’t always agree with me, and in fact, a lot of you don’t, but I always appreciate the give-and-take.

This blog carried me in a lot of ways as I job search and I’m always grateful for the input of my readers. For as long as I am in the area and have access to the Mets, I will continue the blog. Thanks.

Brand New World Awaits.

Brand New World Awaits.


That being said, let’s take a quick look at 2010. In projecting the Mets’ line-up, unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be much difference from the group that played so well this summer.

The Mets have promised trades and free-agent signings that could make it all better, but if history is an indication, there will be more smoke than fire.

Here’s what I see:

CATCHER: Brian Schneider is gone. They would like to add a veteran presence, preferably one with some offensive capabilities. That unknown would platoon with Omir Santos, who played well then faded down the stretch after Josh Thole was added. I’m projecting Thole to start the season in the minor leagues, but he’ll play during the year. There’s a lot of promise there, but he’s learning the position and now to hit on this level.

MURPHY: Showed enough to get chance at first.

MURPHY: Showed enough to get chance at first.


FIRST BASE: The Mets haven’t said they won’t re-sign Carlos Delgado, but those odds are long, especially since he never came back from the disabled list and was reinjured during his rehab. Daniel Murphy, who was force-fed the position, showed improvement over the past two months where they should be comfortable with him in the position until Ike Davis is ready – assuming, of course, Davis does get ready. Adam LaRoche and Aubrey Huff are available on the free-agent market, but neither will lift the franchise to the next level. LaRoche likely will stay with Atlanta.

SECOND BASE: Who would have thought Luis Castillo would hit .302 this year. The Mets believe they might find a taker, but they are dreaming. There are still two years and $12 million on his contract, and just because he stayed healthy for one season doesn’t mean he will in the future. Castillo’s offense was surprising, but his defense regressed. If the Mets can deal him they should, but that’s so unlikely.

THIRD BASE: David Wright has three years and $39 million remaining on his contract. He’s the face of the franchise and here for the duration. There were noticeable flaws in Wright’s game this season, notably dramatic drop in home runs and alarming spike in strikeouts despite hitting over .300. Wright will work with hitting coach Howard Johnson in an attempt to regain his power stroke. And, the power drop wasn’t just Citi Field because he didn’t go deep on the road, either. This is a big offseason concern, and the hope of Wright hitting for more power will shape the Mets’ offseason thinking.

WRIGHT: Needs to regain power stroke.

WRIGHT: Needs to regain power stroke.


SHORTSTOP: A hamstring injury that will require surgery limited Jose Reyes to 36 games in 2009. They expect him back, but nobody is making any promises as to what they believe they’ll get. No doubt, a quality back up should be added, and that means Alex Cora. For the Mets not to have a healthy Reyes, or an ineffective one in 2010, wouldn’t be a reach.

LEFT FIELD: The free agents are enticing. Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, Bobby Abreu, and yes, even Manny Ramirez. A quick rundown: Bay will stay in Boston; Abreu likes the Angels; Holliday’s price tag will scare the Mets; and everything about Ramirez should frighten the Mets. There might be a middle-of-the-board option, but isn’t that the same thing as saying Angel Pagan? I’d like Holliday, but my gut tells me the Mets won’t spend.

CENTER FIELD: There are two years and $37 million left on Carlos Beltran’s contract, one with a no-trade clause. Beltran wants an extension, but his injury history should give the Mets pause on that option. A healthy Beltran should help fill the power void.

RIGHT FIELD: Jeff Francoeur will be a free agent in two years, and if the Mets are smart, they’ll lock him up before then. He played with a grit the team has long been accused of lacking.

STARTING ROTATION: If the Mets changed nothing, and that wouldn’t be a shock, they’ll have this rotation: Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, John Maine and either Jon Niese or Bobby Parnell. All of them have issues. Santana, Perez, Maine and Niese have injury issues; Pelfrey took a step back and Parnell’s confidence could be shot. The free-agent market isn’t deep, with the Angels’ John Lackey the premier choice, but he’ll be pricey and has an injury background.

BULLPEN: Closer Francisco Rodriguez had breakdown signs this year with most every save opportunity an adventure. Nothing was ever easy for him. J.J. Putz can forget about having his $8.6 million option picked up. Parnell could get the set-up role, and if he does he should be left alone. Count on lefty Pedro Feliciano returning. After that, it’s back to square one in rebuilding the pen.

Oct 12

On the market ….

With Boston and St. Louis making early exits in the playoffs, the focus is on the outfielders Jason Bay and Matt Holliday, and where they might land. Left field in Citi Field is a possibility, although not a seemingly strong one.

Yesterday, Bay acknowledged possibly playing elsewhere, but that seems to be more posturing than anything else. Bay loves Boston and the feeling is mutual and the two already had talks this season. I’m figuring he stays in Boston based on what has been written.

However, as much as the Cardinals would like to bring back Holliday, that might not happen because of the pending free-agency of Albert Pujols in two years. The Cardinals aren’t big spenders, but the Catch-22 is in order to retain Pujols they have to be serious about winning and protecting their big bat in the line-up.

Even so, I can see the Cardinals passing on Holliday because they could figure they could get somebody later. That’s how many of these teams think. In addition, the Cardinals’ first priority will be manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan.

Of the four names mentioned here, personally I like La Russa and Duncan on the Mets best, but I know that won’t happen. The odds are best with Holliday.