Nov 29

Wright Should Take Offer, But What Happens Next For Mets?

If the latest numbers are to be believed, then the Mets have done their due diligence and David Wright should have the deal that could enable him to finish his career in Flushing. If he plays in the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field wearing another uniform, then that’s his decision.

The reported seven-year, $125-million contract would give him the longevity he craves while making him the highest-paid, fulltime third baseman in the sport. Afterall, Alex Rodriguez does split his time as a DH and on the disabled list. Nobody will ever get a contract like Rodriguez’s again.

Wright has been adamant about wanting to be like future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones, and a player he grew up idolizing – Cal Ripken – in wanting to play his career with the same team.

Wright is one of the few players I believe in when he says things such as that. Jose Reyes, I always thought, would take the last dollar possible. Wright never struck me as such.

There is a question about deferred money, but I don’t think of that as anything more than a retirement plan. That shouldn’t that insurmountable an obstacle.

I understand the need to retain Wright and have long been on board with it. However, it stands to reason that keeping him – and hopefully, R.A. Dickey – means absolutely nothing it the Mets remain the same.

Based on his numbers the past three seasons, that’s an extremely generous offer from the Mets. Yes, they would be overpaying, but they would be purchasing more than just a third baseman. Wright is the face of the franchise and should represent a commitment toward winning.

Keeping Wright and doing nothing else to build the team accomplishes nothing. The Mets’ current plan appears to be keeping Wright, perhaps Dickey, and a lot of hoping, such as:

* Johan Santana remaining healthy and productive in his final season as a Met.

* Breakout seasons from Jon Niese and Dillon Gee.

* A strong full first season from Matt Harvey.

* Josh Thole learns how to hit, hopefully with some power.

* Ike Davis adds to last year’s 32 homers.

* Ruben Tejada at least duplicates last year.

* Wright, for all that money, returns to becoming a power hitter.

* The outfield trio – if the season started today – of Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter can play as starters instead of role players. And, if not, somebody falls into their laps.

* They somehow, some way, piece together a bullpen.


Jul 10

Five Ways To Fix The All-Star Game

When I was growing up I used to love the All-Star Game. The game meant something to me because it was clear it meant something to the players. When two of my favorite players – Pete Rose and Ray Fosse – met at the plate during the 1970 All-Star Game in Cincinnati, it was clear it was not just another game. At least to those two.

FOSSE/ROSE: When the stars played with passion.

At one time they played two All-Star Games. These days there’s not too much of a game at all. It stopped being special when the vote was returned to the fans – ironically, in 1970 – because that’s when it became a popularity contest. Any election where a person can cast an indefinite amount of times is a farce by definition.

As far as I’m concerned, the game officially jumped the shark with interleague play. Soon after, MLB did away with the league offices and merged the umpires. And, of course, let’s not forget the farce of having the two leagues play with different rules regarding the DH.

Baseball’s All-Star Game is by far superior to other sports, but that doesn’t mean changes aren’t necessary. It doesn’t need tinkering, but an overhaul of serious proportions.

Here’s what I would do:

1. It is a pipe dream, I know, but the first thing would be to eliminate interleague play, thereby creating a distinction between the leagues. The leagues will always be blurred to some extent because of free agency and movement of players. Interleague play is a gimmick that has taken luster from the All-Star Game and World Series.

2. Knowing MLB will keep interleague play as long as Bud Selig is around, the next step would be to cut the nonsense about the winning league having home field in the World Series. As long as the fans vote and it is a popularity contest, having it have such an impact in the postseason is a contradiction. The notion of a fan vote, having each team represented and trying to play everybody is the opposite in essence of having the winner determine the Game 7 site of the World Series.

3. Take away the fan vote. Another pipe dream, but I’d rather eliminate the popularity contest angle. Maybe the managers and coaches, or players, or scouts, or media. The stipulation being you can’t vote for your own players.

4. Why should every team be represented? It’s like everybody getting a trophy in the second grade. The only caveat being the host city having a player on the team. Assuring each team being represented often ends up having a deserving player being snubbed.

5. Expand the rosters to include a lifetime achievement participant. If a player is at the end of his career and has been a perennial All-Star but is having a sub-par year, include him on the team. For example, had Chipper Jones had not made it as a late entry, then a spot should have been reserved for him. Give the public a chance to say good-bye.

Jun 06

Jason Bay Back For Mets …. Kind Of

Jason Bay was activated from the disabled list this afternoon, but isn’t in the lineup for tonight’s game at Washington. Just as well, as there’s no great desire on my part to see him play. Not yet, anyway.

BAY: Welcome back?

I am leaning toward the camp of a player not losing his job because of injury, but that can’t be absolute. With the Mets, when David Wright goes down he should play again when he’s able. Wright’s track record of production warrants that right, or respect, if you will.

However, in the two plus years Bay has been with the Mets, what exactly has he done to earn that privilege? Has he had a run of production similar to the small window opened by Kirk Nieuwenhuis? I’d say no. With Nieuwenhuis playing, there’s a reasonable expectation of something good happening. You can’t criticize Bay’s defense or hustle. It the combination of both which landed him on the disabled list to begin with. However, the Mets aren’t paying him all that money just for defense. Mix in a RBI once in awhile.

The Mets won’t eat Bay’s contract and release him. His contract makes him impossible to trade. He will play, but does it have to be right away with the team playing so well.

With the Mets facing six games on the road in AL parks in New York and Tampa, there’s an opportunity to gradually ease him back in the DH role. That’s one of the perks – if you can call it that – of interleague play.

I’d go that route first, then work him back into the outfield spotting Nieuwenhuis in left, Andres Torres in center and Lucas Duda in right.  And, with Ike Davis having problems at the plate, I’d even see if Bay can play a little first base.

Afterall, any bit of information is useful, right?

During spring training, Terry Collins said he would be reluctant to move Duda from right to first and Daniel Murphy from second to third, or first, because he wanted them to just concentrate on learning their new positions. Duda has been taking grounders at first, which Collins explained away as keeping him sharp in anticipation of double switches.

Should Bay return and start raking, he should play, but I’d be hesitant to jump right in with him on an everyday basis. I’d make him earn it. You see, there’s a good feeling with the Mets again. They are relevant, with an emphasis on team. That’s why I was disappointed in Davis expressing reluctance in going down to the minors to work on his hitting. That’s why I don’t want to see playing time going to someone simply because of his contractual status.

That would be a step back.


Mar 05

Spring training opener: Mets vs. Nationals.

Dillon Gee will start tonight against Washington, followed by Matt Harvey, Miguel Batista, Daniel Herrera, Tim Byrdak and Frank Francisco.

Gee and Harvey should get two innings apiece. I think it was a good call to ease Harvey into things rather than give him a start right away. He’ll have enough adrenalin as it is, so there’s no need to push the envelope with him, especially since he doesn’t fit into this year’s rotation plans.

There will be opportunities later this spring where Harvey will get to start and be in the spotlight.

GEE: Gets the ball tonight.

Gee took advantage of his opportunity last summer caused by injuries to force his way into the rotation and at one time was the Mets’ most effective pitcher. If Johan Santana doesn’t pan out physically, and we’ll know more about him tomorrow, Gee could be in line for the Opening Day start.

Manager Terry Collins pitch projected closer Francisco earlier in the game where he’ll face tougher hitters to sharpen him for the season. Early on, the last few innings are played out by minor leaguers and prospects who won’t be on the major league rosters.

Normally, starters will throw roughly 30 innings during the spring while relievers will get from 10 to 15 innings. It is easier for relievers to get their innings through simulation and split squad games.

Here’s tonight’s Mets’ lineup:

Andres Torres, cf

Daniel Murphy, 2b

Justin Turner, 3b

Ike Davis, 1b

Jason Bay, lf

Lucas Duda, rf

Valentino Pascucci, DH

Josh Thole, c

Ruben Tejada, ss

LINEUP COMMENTS: Was curious to see who would bat second. Murphy has good bat control and patience at the plate that makes him the prime candidate. You can’t help but read in the following days about the leadoff spot. Let’s face it, regardless of who the Mets put out there he can’t live up to Jose Reyes.

ON DECK: Mets playing it cautious with David Wright.

Jan 27

Mets have option at outfield help.

There was some talk the Mets were monitoring the outfield market, but Juan Pierre is now off the market and they will find the asking prices for Johnny Damon, Kosuke Fukudome and Raul Ibanez to rich for their blood.

ANKIEL: Help at a reasonable price.

Vlad Guerrero is strictly a DH type, J.D. Drew is heading toward retirement and Magglio Ordonez is an injury question. All three would want more than the Mets are willing to pay, regardless.

Rick Ankiel is still available.

Ankiel, who made $1.5 million last year for Washington is within the Mets’ budget. Ankiel hit 25 homers for the 2008 Cardinals, but hasn’t come close to those numbers since, although he hit nine last season.

Ankiel isn’t a player to build around, but he does offer something of value to the Mets in three capacities: 1) as a left-handed bat, 2) an exceptional defensive replacement, and 3) as a back-up center fielder to Andres Torres.

Yeah, I can hear the groans already about Ankiel, but the truth is he can contribute in several areas at a reasonable price, and for the Mets that’s about the best they can hope for these days.