Feb 13

Had a rough weekend.

Good afternoon folks. I was away for the weekend, but not by design as I was hospitalized.

I was in Westchester for an appointment when I fainted and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. I was crouching at the time on my cell phone, and when I stood up I got lightheaded and collapsed. When I came to, somebody had stolen my phone. There’s got to be a special section in hell for that guy.

Tests came back negative and I was released after staying overnight, but it was a wake-up call nonetheless. They couldn’t pinpoint the problem. Maybe just a freak thing, but it scared the hell out of me. When you wake up in a hallway and not know where you are, it is scary. I’m lucky they didn’t find anything serious, or it happened when I was driving.

I think about all the traveling I’ve done and how may nights I’ve been in a strange hotel. Lucky I wasn’t in some city halfway across the country.

When you’re in a hospital bed, you have time for a lot of thinking. You can’t sleep because they wake you up every two hours to take blood or test your blood pressure. And, the lights are always on and the nurses’ station is always noisy.

I thought about a lot of things, with the upcoming baseball season among them. I am working on a book I hope will be completed by the end of the season. I plan to be out at Citi Field a lot this summer working on several writing projects.  I also hope to do a lot of game stories for an Internet outlet. Looking forward to it.

Would rather be traveling full time, but I’m happy covering baseball nonetheless. It has been in my blood for a long time.

I’m also looking forward to the season with curiosity and interest. I’m trying to look past the dismal won-loss forecast and into the future. This is a tenuous period in Mets’ history with all the swirling economic and legal issues laying the groundwork for the next decade or so.

If the Wilpons fare poorly in court they could be forced to sell. Maybe they won’t be worth the $2 billion the Dodgers are reportedly valued, but the team, coupled with SNY and Citi Field will come at a high price.

If the Wilpons keep the franchise, it will be interesting to see how they dig themselves out of this hole and when will see them be viable again.

In this, the 50th anniversary of the Mets’ birth, some are writing this team could be a hapless as the 1962 team. It won’t happen.

As an expansion team, Casey Stengel’s group was a collection of veteran castoffs and lowly ranked prospects. There wasn’t a player on that team with the talent of David Wright, or the potential of Ike Davis and Jon Niese.

Today’s Mets aren’t deep in talent at the major league level and throughout the farm system, but there is talent and potential. There’s also an expanded playoff system not around in 1962, so if they catch fire, well, who knows?

People have said and written to me saying the 1969 team had low expectations and look what happened to them. True enough, and while the offensive potential of this team is greater than the 1969 team, that unit had potential based on its superior pitching. Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman gave Gil Hodges reason to believe the 1969 team would be competitive and exceed expectations.

We’re a week away from the start of spring training and over the coming days I’ll look at some of the questions and issues surrounding the Mets.

I’m anxious for another season to begin, as I am every spring and I hope you’ll share it with me.

Thanks. JD

 

Feb 09

I wish the Mets would do that.

Maybe the Mets are thinking along these lines, and if so, it slipped by me. In doing some research on the Mets’ 50th anniversary, I came across all the non-baseball events at Shea Stadium, including the Rolling Stones, Beatles, boxing and the Pope.

Yankee Stadium is hosting Madonna and Pink Floyd this summer while the Yankees are on the road. Why don’t the Mets, who are hurting for money, open the doors of Citi Field this summer when the boys are on the road?

I’m not suggesting a monster truck rally that would tear up the field, but how about rock concerts, boxing and wrestling? If nothing else, how about the world’s largest flea market?

I’m hoping Citi Field will apply to host the NHL January 1 outdoors game. Maybe not the Rangers this time, but there’s the Devils and Islanders.

It really doesn’t matter what the event, but as long as people are coming to Citi Field, the Mets will get something and that’s what is important.

Feb 01

What would success be to the 2012 Mets?

On this, the 50th anniversary of the Mets, I am sure they’ll have a better record than their founding fathers, but not have much better odds of success.

The ultimate success is defined by winning the World Series, followed by reaching the playoffs, winning your division, then finishing over .500. Realistically, a lot of things have to break right for the Mets to have a winning season.

But, with all that seemingly out of their reach, what would define a successful season?

I’m narrowing it down to a handful of things:

1) Some resolution, either way, to the Mets’ financial struggles. There’s such a negative feeling permeating this franchise because of the unknown ramifications of the Ponzi scandal. Even a court decision will go through the appeals process, so it won’t happen this summer. But, a little movement one way or another could tell us what direction the franchise is heading. Even if the news is bad, that’s better than not knowing and speculating.

2) A healthy and productive David Wright is important because he’s the face of the franchise and has been a shell of his All-Star self. If the Mets are to rebuild, they’ll need plenty of young pieces and Wright is the only player capable of bringing in that kind of talent.

3) A strain on the Mets are the contracts of Johan Santana and Jason Bay. If they can be healthy and perform even remotely to their potential, perhaps Sandy Alderson can find a taker. He did so with Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez and their impossible contracts. Maybe he can do it again. Yes, I know we’re talking a long shot here.

4) The Mets have some young talent that offers hope of better days. Jon Niese, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Josh Thole and Daniel Murphy aren’t without ability. You can throw Bobby Parnell in with that group, too. Maybe these guys can show us a glimpse of something promising in the future.

5) The Mets desperately need a fast start against the brutal schedule in April and early May to avoid a double-digit deficit before the weather gets warm. If the Mets can play alert, aggressive baseball out of the gate they might draw some people to Citi Field and perhaps curb some of the flood of red ink.

If all of these things happen it won’t guarantee a winning season, much less the playoffs. But, should they happen it might ease the negativity swarming around this franchise and that would be a start.

 

 

Jan 30

Around the corner …. a brick wall.

Pitchers and catchers report to St. Lucie in three weeks and where is the sense of optimism that comes with the approaching baseball season?

SANTANA: Contract weighs down Mets.

In the past three years the Mets entered spring training without realistic hope save wishing they could muster a competitive season to keep their dwindling fan base interested and enthused.

This year included.

It is not healthy when the fans’ biggest hopes are for the owners to sell and not trade their marquee player. The core three of David Wright, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran is down to Wright, and nobody would be surprised if he got off to a fast start and the Mets dealt him in July. Believe me, the vultures are calling.

Continue reading

Jan 19

How Do Baseball Evaluators View Wright?

Buster Olney of ESPN.com, talked to three evaluators about Wright’s game.

From an AL evaluator: “He will have value at the trade deadline if healthy and performing as usual. He will bring compensation as a free agent, so his value to Mets is fairly high, and a team acquiring him will have to give up more than the value of a couple of high draft picks. He’s a very good player, but not consistent enough to be a star on offense and defense. His defense has gone backwards and get into funks offensively. He’ll produce numbers, and most every team would want him, but not as a No. 3 or a No. 4 hitter on a good team.”

From an NL evaluator: “Wright’s value is limited by the lack of control and expensive salary. He’s not a great defender and hasn’t cleared 20 HR in two of the past three seasons. He’s been trending downward by most statistical metrics and our scouts are concerned his swing has gotten long and slow, leading to a high strikeout ratio. Think about it this way: Aramis Ramirez just signed a 3-year, $36 million deal with the Brewers. Ramirez is a better hitter and similar defender to Wright — who is due $31 million for the next two seasons if his option is exercised — so what are you paying for? Make-up? Fame?”

From an AL scout: “David Wright is a potential coup. He’s eerily similar in value to the Seattle version of Adrian Beltre, although he (and everyone else in baseball) is not the defender that Beltre is. He and Beltre both were suffocated by their home parks, Citi Field and Safeco Field, respectively. Teams should have pounced and offered Beltre a premium multi-year deal when he left Seattle originally. If available, I’d trade and sign Wright now. Another caveat with Wright is that he’s performed and handled himself admirably in New York, which bodes well for any type of market going forward.”

Kind of like the good, the bad and the ugly…

Not one of them referred to his fractured back injury, an injury that has wreaked havoc on many a great player’s career in the past. I happen to think that we haven’t heard the last of that.

I still feel there”s a chance Wright will be traded BEFORE the 2012 season.

Some value is still better than ZERO value if that back starts barking in April.

Plus I’m pretty sure that saving $7-8 million on his salary will have the approximate net value of 15-20 sold out games at Citi Field.

I’m pretty sure that CRG will be pointing out these facts as part of their initial report that should be ready around Feb. 10. I remind you of the three steps a turnaround consultant told me that CRG will recommend.

  1. Stop the bleeding. (Saved $70M by cutting payroll, workforce. Sub-leasing assets.)
  2. Trim the fat. (Eliminated a minor league affiliate, may cut more payroll?)
  3. Make better financial decisions moving forward. (Hired Alderson and CRG, kept Howard and Ricco, stopped meddling)

Catch more of my opinions at Mets Merized Online.