Mar 05

Judge rules against Mets …. will be appealed

As the Mets get ready to open their spring training schedule tonight – David Wright is not expected to play because of a strained rib cage muscle – the issue that will be the backdrop to their season moved centerstage this morning.

U.S. District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff ruled Mets owner Fred Wilpon must pay as much as $83 million because of the Ponzi scheme. The ruling also set a March 19 trial date for another $303 million.

This decision will be appealed, so the Wilpon’s aren’t hitting in the bottom of the ninth. At least not yet.

I don’t know how this will finish, but today only deepened the hole and put the Mets under more financial pressure. I’d bet the Mets would jump at the chance to settle for just $83 million, but this will drag on, their legal fees will mount and we can disregard any idea of being able to acquire talent at midseason if it is competitive.

Regardless of how today’s decision would have been, it would have been appealed. But, the negative ruling only reinforced the sentiment this will be a dark season.

On the positive side, Ike Davis is cleared. However, the prospect of him having a lengthy illness and Wright hurting already reinforced the Mets’ lack of depth. On that note, I am pleased Justin Turner will get the opportunity to back up Davis at first rather than disrupt Lucas Duda’s development in right field.

 

 

Feb 22

On the power of positive thinking.

My expectations for the 2012 Mets are admittedly low, but that’s just me, and readers of this blog realize I don’t jump off the deep end when it comes to this team.

However, I will take if they continue the aggressive play they performed last year under Terry Collins. The Mets didn’t win, but there was a crispness to their play at times.

There was a marked difference in the improvement in hustle last year from the Jerry Manuel era. Collins also promised a greater concentration on fundamentals and at times we saw that last summer. The 2011 Mets did have their comeback moments. There were times when we felt good about them.

They did win 70 games despite missing Carlos Beltran for half a season; had Jose Reyes on the DL twice; lost Ike Davis for five months; had David Wright injured; watched Jason Bay give them nothing again; traded closer Francisco Rodriguez, who was having a good year, at the break; didn’t have Johan Santana all year; watched Mike Pelfrey regress and had Jon Niese injured. There was also a bullpen collapse and Daniel Murphy’s injury.

Come to think of it, considering all that, they were lucky to win 70 games. If you were told all that would happen coming out of spring training you would have jumped at 70 wins.

Reyes will be difficult to replace, but a healthy Wright and Davis could offset the loss of Beltran. Anything Bay and Santana gives them has to be considered a bonus. Pelfrey and Niese just have to be better, don’t they?

If the Mets play fundamentally sound and pitch better they could approach .500. The season is six months long, and one or two more wins a month gets us to the breakeven record. No, .500 doesn’t get you into the playoffs, but it is the first step in rebuilding.

I want this team, as Fred Wilpon once said, to play meaningful games in September. If that happens, Citi Field could be a fun place to visit this summer, and that’s what this franchise needs.


 

Sep 02

It’s Reyes’ call if he stays or not.

The Mets will make an offer for Jose Reyes this winter. Bet on it. He’s a core member of this team, which often wins when he’s on his game. However, making an offer and staying aren’t necessarily linked. And, the Einhorn deal falling through will have little bearing on the outcome.

REYES: What's he thinking?

How badly the Mets want to retain Reyes will be reflected in the dollar offer, which this spring was referred to as “Crawford money,” as in $142 million over seven years. At the time, Fred Wilpon said it wouldn’t happen, that something always happens to Reyes. Wilpon took heat for it at the time, but he was right.

Something has happened as in the form of two trips to the disabled list with hamstring injuries, critical for a speed player. The Mets need to be cautious with their offer to Reyes, even if there were no financial black clouds overhead. He’s a player who relies on legs that have been hurt. If it’s not the legs, it’s the oblique. It is always something.

The guy hasn’t stayed on the field for a complete season in three years and you know he’ll ask for at least five. Right now, that would be a risk.

The Mets might load up on the bucks and shorten up on the years. They could come in with $60 million over three years and if he proves healthy go through the process again. Or, maybe $80 million over four years. Even that’s a gamble for a team with as many questions as the Mets will face this winter.

Hometown discount? Probably not, even though the Mets did give him a long term deal early in his career when he desperately needed the money.

Both offers I listed are $20 million a season which is far from chump change. If Reyes likes New York as much as he says he does, he could consider going short and doing it again, and if he stays healthy, get another payday.

Both offers are enough for him and his family for generations, to live comfortable for the rest of their lives. The examples like Jered Weaver who ask “how much is enough?” are few and far between, and I don’t believe Reyes is one of those players.

The Mets will make an offer that would make him the highest-paid position player in franchise history and up there at his position with the likes of Derek Jeter, who has done it for 15 years. Their offer shouldn’t be classified as cheap considering Reyes’ issues, but will likely be rejected.

The contract won’t be what Reyes wants, but it will be more than what he needs. It’s all on him whether he stays.

Aug 17

Slipping away

We knew they weren’t going to win this season, but for awhile there they were fun to watch. They were aggressive, hustled and more importantly, competitive and made us think of what could have happened had they been intact all season.

The Mets missed David Wright for two months, are without Ike Davis for the rest of the season, haven’t had Johan Santana all year, watched Mike Pelfrey regress, had Jose Reyes on the disabled list twice, and haven’t gotten a thing from Jason Bay. All this under the specter of a possible fire sale, which saw only Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodrigue depart.

Even so, the Mets have hung around the .500 mark, but lately they’ve started to play like we thought they might. The Mets have lost 12 of their last 16 games after last night in San Diego. And, it won’t get any easier with Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Atlanta coming up to close out the month.

Remember when Fred Wilpon said he wanted the Mets to play meaningful games in September? There are different interpretations of the word “meaningful.”

There’s no pennant race, and won’t be for awhile, but I’d like to see the Mets close with a spark and intensity they’ve had for much of the season.

I’d like there to be some fun down the stretch.

 

 

 

 

Aug 06

Reyes coming to Earth?

Jose Reyes said he’s 100 percent, but he’s not really. He’s not been the player he was before going on the disabled list with a hamstring, and while he’s still had a good year, he once again served reminder of the dangers of giving him a long-term contract in the neighborhood of seven years.

REYES: Vulnerabilities showing.

The offensive rap on Reyes has always been giving away too many at-bats at the plate and falling back into bad habits, such as pulling off the ball and adopting an uppercut swing.

What were line drives and crisp ground balls have turned into weak fly balls and pop ups. He’s taking a 2-for-13 slide into tonight’s game against the Braves, including nine fly ball outs.

Reyes has had had a marvelous season and somebody will give him a payday this winter. If not the Mets, then somebody.

However, two things have surfaced to warrant caution in anybody dealing with Reyes, with the first being his propensity to injury and breaking down.

He hasn’t played in 150 games since 2008, and since 2003 has only logged at least 150 games four times. From 2005 through 2008, Reyes had at least 56 stolen bases.

For a player who makes his living with his legs, there are breakdown signs for the 28-year-old Reyes.

With his health always a concern, so is his performance. Players will always have slides and slumps, but there are still holes in Reyes’ game that indicate Carl Crawford money of $142 million over seven years – which Fred Wilpon said he would not get – will be unattainable.

After three years of leading the NL in stolen bases, he has 32 now, his most in four years. His on-base percentage on .376 is the highest of his career, but how much is that playing for the contract? His career .339 on-base is more representative of his capabilities, and that’s not worthy of Crawford money. I don’t know if it is worth more than a $100,000 million package.

He’s never walked more than 77 times in his career and has only drawn 29 this summer. His career strikeouts-to-walks ratio is 498 to 319.

Reyes is a good player having a good season, but as the last few weeks have shown, there are vulnerabilities in his game that say Wilpon might have been right all along.