Aug 29

MLB: Wilpons doing fine.

Yesterday on the blog we talked about a Reuters story which quoted Erin Arvedlund, author of “Too Good to Be True,” of saying the Wilpon family lost $700 million in the Madoff scam and would be forced to sell the team by early of 2010.

Fred Wilpon told the New York Times, “I’m fine, my family’s fine, my business family’s fine.”

WILPON: Says Mets not for sale.

WILPON: Says Mets not for sale.


Wilpon also said the family has an emotional attachment to the Mets and would not sell the team. Wilpon said the team’s revenue from its share of the MLB television deal, luxury suits, ticket sales, concessions, ad revenue at Citi Field and its share of SNY were not affected by the scam. He said the Madoff losses were significantly less than $700 million, but did not specify.

Wilpon paid $135 million to buy out Nelson Doubleday’s share of the team in 2002, and the Mets, according to Forbes Magazine, are currently worth $912 million.

Major League Baseball monitors the finances of each team quarterly, and president Bob DuPuy said the team is under no financial distress.

Aug 20

Mets activate Wagner; release Hernandez

As expected, the Mets activated Billy Wagner from the 60-day disabled list this afternoon. Not so expected, that in order to make room they released Livan Hernandez.

Wagner made remarkable progress from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, but don’t expect to see much of him at Citi Field. He’ll get a few showcase appearances and then the Mets will attempt to make a waiver deal.

WAGNER: Here today, gone tomorrow?

WAGNER: Here today, gone tomorrow?


Wagner has a no-trade clause but would waive it in order to go to a contender. He says he could live for being a set-up man for the rest of this season but wants to be a closer next year. The Chicago Cubs, for one, need a closer.

I’ve always liked Wagner, especially for his outspoken nature. He’s always been a stand-up guy as knows the pulse of the clubhouse.

As for Hernandez, he started at 5-1 and then hit a wall. He was 7-8 with a 5.47 ERA, but had a 7.33 ERA in July and an 11.30 ERA in August.

There are contenders who need innings, and Hernandez pitched well enough to where some team will take a look.

Aug 14

Some random thoughts ….

Going over a few things in my mind, including yesterday’s Sheffield post.

* I don’t see how anyone could think bringing back Gary Sheffield for next year is a good idea. With the complaints this year of the Mets being old and not athletic, Sheffield in 2010 does nothing to make that happen. The Mets look listless now, and Sheffield only adds to that appearance when you see him in the outfield. Sheffield has always been a me-first guy, and he’ll complain about playing time for sure. At 40, he’s not getting any younger and is already showing break-down signs. If he would had 25 homers in the bank I’d consider it, but he’s got 10. That might be decent coming off the bench, but this guy wants to play full time. Bad move.

* We’ll know this afternoon whether Livan Hernandez will stay in the rotation. Jerry Manuel talks about his respect for Hernandez, but he’s let him twist in the wind since his last start. Do the Mets really have any other viable options? Probably not. Like with Sheffield, I would be willing to see what I could get for Hernandez in a waiver deal considering we probably won’t see him next season.

* David Wright’s knee has been examined and we’ll find out the results later today. With the team going nowhere, there’s not point running him into the ground.

* In the “It’s About Time,” category, fans will notice photos of notable Mets and moments in club history around Citi Field at tonight’s game against the Giants. Why this wasn’t done from the outset, along with a Mets’ Hall of Fame, is beyond me. The Mets don’t have the glorious history of the Yankees or Dodgers, but they have an compelling history nonetheless. It should have been honored and on display all along. The Jackie Robinson Rotunda is a meaningful exhibit, but it isn’t about the Mets. Honor your own history before someone else’s.

* I’ve said this numerous times, so once more shouldn’t hurt. The competitive aspect of the season is over. Shut down Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran to let them fully heal. Unless there are serious concerns about their health that need to be answered as to prepare for the off-season – and this doesn’t seem to be the case – there’s no benefit in dragging them out there again this year. It could only make matters worse.

* Billy Wagner is expected to be activated Sunday, and he’s somebody the Mets might be able to swing a waiver deal for to pick up a prospect. Left relievers are valuable in a pennant race and if Wagner is close to being 100 percent he could net something in return. They certainly aren’t going to offer him arbitration they might as well see what is out there.

* For the most part, I’ve held my tongue on Gannett. Not now. On a sad note, my former newspaper, The Journal News, is forcing employees to re-apply for their jobs. Even so, at least 70 people will get cut. Some good people will lose their jobs. Management said only current employees are eligible to apply, but apparently these Gannett openings are on the public job boards. Nice lie. Just a different lie than the one they told me.

Gannett still makes a profit, but apparently not enough. This used to be an aggressive newspaper with quality people putting out a quality product. It is but a shell of its former self as Corporate gut the product, presumably to write-off its self-inflicted losses. It’s a sleazy company that deserves its demise. Unfortunately, a lot of innocent people get hurt.

I guess, all you need to know about the small thinking that goes on at my former place is every afternoon they cut off the air conditioning for an hour to presumably save a few pennies.

Stay classy Gannett, stay classy.

Aug 11

About last night …. enough is enough.

OK, I understand about the injuries. The Mets are a hurting group and won’t be whole again this season. We probably won’t see Jose Reyes or Carlos Beltran until spring training. The next time we see Carlos Delgado at Citi Field will likely be in a road uniform.

MANUEL: Went to the whip last night.

MANUEL: Went to the whip last night.


Lack of all their parts has cost the Mets a considerable number of their 60 losses, but also damaging has been their often uninspired, lazy, sloppy brand of baseball. Sloppy was on full display in last night’s loss at Arizona.

Manager Jerry Manuel simply told reporters last night, “we were a bad team,” and privately lashed out at several players. Daniel Murphy failed to cover first base on what could have been a double play; instead Anderson Hernandez threw to an empty base. (Not too bright, either.) Angel Pagan didn’t think on two costly outfield plays, one a careless dive and the other an errant throw. Both led to runs.

And, Mike Pelfrey continued to languish in mediocrity. Pelfrey, who had been expected to make significant strides this season, is floating through this season in Oliver Perez-like fashion.

OK, the Mets aren’t whole, but that’s no excuse for playing lazy-thinking and lazy-hustling baseball. Physical errors are part of the game, but errors caused by a lack of concentration or preparation are never acceptable. Never.

Here’s the deal. Before every pitch, a defensive player must ask himself what he would do if the ball were hit to him. He should have a plan. Hustle is admirable, but misplaced hustle, as in Pagan’s dive, is not smart baseball. And, Pagan has made more than his fair share of poor-thinking plays on the bases.

Injuries are one thing, but there have been numerous instances of undermanned and under talented teams winning – and that includes the World Series – by playing fundamentally sound. Not doing so is the first indication a team is packing in a season. It is a sign of quitting, and that’s a reflection on a manager, and Manuel can’t be happy about that prospect.

Believe me, everything will be open to evaluation after the season and that includes the manager. Manuel will be judged more on if he still has the ear and backing of the players than a won-loss record that at this rate will be lucky to be .500.

After chewing on his players, Manuel also blamed fatigue, but that’s his responsibility. David Wright gets only his second rest of the season tonight, but there have been other opportunities to give him a blow. There is simply no reason why fatigue should be an issue if the players are utilized properly. Conversely, there’s no reason why Francisco Rodriguez’s slide can be attributed to rust. Giving regular and consistent workloads to a player is also the responsibility of the manager and coaching staff.

When the story of this season is written, four sentences from Manuel last night will neatly summarize what has been the storyline to too many games this season: “A very poor game. A poor effort on our part. Despite maybe not having what we’d like to have, still it’s the major leagues. We have to perform better than that.”

Says it all, really.

It is true, true character is more revealed in times of adversity than prosperity. And, with the season dwindling away, the Mets still have a chance to salvage something. Their pride and self-respect, or at least a fraction of what is left. The season won’t just be neatly packaged by the injuries, but by the effort in the remaining 50 games.

Those 50 games will also go a long way toward the off-season evaluation process and the quest for jobs next spring.

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.