Aug 21

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #122; Playing out the string.

CHAT ROOM

CHAT ROOM

With 40 games remaining, tonight was supposed to be the start of a hot series with the rival Philadelphia Phillies. Fueled by Cole Hamels “choke” comments about the Mets last winter, there was to be heat and spice in this rivalry, which for the past two seasons featured a Mets’ collapse down the stretch and being overtaken by the Phillies.

Not only did the Mets blow two sizable leads to their neighbors at the other end of the Jersey Turnpike, but watched them win the World Series and in the process tweak Jose Reyes for his hot dog ways.

Reyes is nowhere to be seen tonight, and we might not see him for the rest of the season. The Phillies, meanwhile, cruise into Citi Field with an unfathomable 16-game lead. It could be 20 by Monday afternoon.

After trading for Cliff Lee, and with four players with at least 20 homers, five with 15, and two more with nine, the Phillies have all the pieces needed to repeat.
The Mets, however, are a team in disarray. Their entire core of David Wright, Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Degado is on the disabled list with no projected dates for their returns. Only two players from the Opening Day line-up – Luis Castillo and Daniel Murphy – are playing regularly. Two of their five starters – Livan Hernandez and John Maine – are out.

Gary Sheffield represents the power with ten homers and he could be gone any minute.

It has been a Twilight Zone season: the power disappeared; they sacked their assistant general manager; Oliver Perez and tonight’s starter, Mike Pelfrey, have been erratic; and injuries have also claimed time from Maine, JJ Putz, Brian Schneider, Perez and Alex Cora.

In some ways, Pelfrey personifies the Mets. A 13-game winner last season, he was supposed to take a step forward and emerge as the No. 2 starter. He takes an 8-8 record and 4.75 ERA to the mound tonight. He has a three-balk game on his resume and has four of his last five decisions.

Pelfrey has become positively Perez-like, being unable to limit the damage and lets innings get away from him. Against a power-laden line-up such as Philadelphia’s things could get out of hand early.

Here’s tonight’s line-up against Hamels:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Gary Sheffield, LF
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Fernando Tatis, 3B
Daniel Murphy, 1B
Omir Santos, C
Anderson Hernandez, SS
Mike Pelfrey, RP

Aug 21

Wagner claimed

Major League sources have confirmed lefty reliever Billy Wagner has been claimed on waivers and the Mets have three days to make a deal. If a trade is executed, the claiming team would assume the remaining $2.7 million on this year’s contract and an $8 million club option for 2010 (with a $1 million buyout).

WAGNER: Could he be Boston bound?

WAGNER: Could he be Boston bound?


The Boston Globe is reporting the Red Sox are the team that put in a claim. If true, Wagner, who has spent most of his third season of a four-year, $43-million contract recovering from Tommy John surgery, would serve as a set-up reliever to Jonathan Papelbon.

Wagner’s contract includes a full no-trade clause which he said he would waive to go to a contender. Should the Mets pull him off waivers as they did Gary Sheffield, they will be unable to trade him for the rest of the season.

Wagner struck out two in a perfect inning in his first appearance of the season Thursday.

“I thought he was very good, outstanding life, even in that short appearance,” Jerry Manuel said of Wagner’s fastball, which topped out at 96 mph.

Wagner is a six-time All-Star with 385 saves and a 2.40 ERA on his resume.

There are plenty of team in need of relief help, including Tampa Bay, Florida, Anaheim, Detroit and the Chicago Cubs.

Aug 21

Just let him go ….

Both parties are following their nature, paths leading on an inevitable collision course. Gary Sheffield and the Mets clashed last night, and it won’t be the last time before this train wreck of a season comes to its bitter end.

SHEFFIELD: Time to let him go.

SHEFFIELD: Time to let him go.


The Mets stumble through moments like this with veteran players, holding on to them too long, hoping for glimpses of the past rather than seeing the likely end. They grasped too long with Pedro Martinez, Moises Alou, Julio Franco before finally letting go. They did right with Livan Hernandez, but saving money by not paying out innings incentives was probably the true motivation.

Sheffield, as is his wont, is complaining again about his contract. He asked for an extension last night, was turned down, demanded his release and then wanted to sit out.

For his part, Sheffield has been a model citizen this season until last night. He’s proven he still had flashes of pop, and even at 41 next year, he probably would have gotten a contract. If not with the Mets, then maybe in the American League as a designated hitter.

The Mets, as they should have, exposed him to the waiver wire earlier this month and the San Francisco Giants put in a claim. Rather then get something, the Mets pulled him off the wire. Why? They weren’t going anywhere. Would he sell that many tickets?

With this move, the Mets lost the opportunity to trade Sheffield and if he’s claimed again they get nothing. Not smart.

Concurrently, manager Jerry Manuel, who doesn’t always measure his thoughts before speaking, said he thought Sheffield still had something and wanted him back next year.

Sheffield’s timing was poor – it usually is when it comes to talking about his contract – but he had every reason to assume he was in the Mets’ plans for 2010.

When the Mets turned him down – they didn’t even say let’s talk about it after the season – they were saying he wasn’t in their future. Sheffield now says the Mets are holding him hostage, which is only partly true.

Barring his release through irrevocable waivers, he’ll languish over the next five weeks in the mediocrity that has become the Mets. There will be no postseason for Sheffield. However, he’s still making $14 million this year (Detroit is paying $13.6 million) and if he finishes quiet with him mouth and loud with his bat, he’ll play again.

It is hard to understand if Sheffield weren’t in their plans why the Mets would keep him. With the season lost, wouldn’t this be a good time to give Nick Evans extended playing time in left field to see if there is something? If Evans showed something, it might alleviate one less off-season headache. You never know.

If history is any indicator, Sheffield will purposely become a distraction. The Mets would likely blame the media for stirring the pot, but with a loose cannon like that, he’s going to be asked questions. He’s an easy story now.

He did so while with the Yankees to the point they were pleading for somebody to take him. The suckers were the Tigers who gave him a $28 million contract.

The Mets should realize this season is lost and there’s no benefit to keeping Sheffield. They should pull the trigger now and be done with it.

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 13

Puzzling Sheffield decision.

Reportedly, Gary Sheffield and Pedro Feliciano were pulled off waivers after being claimed. Feliciano, I can see. As a lefty reliever he’s a valuable commodity, something the Mets could use next season.

Sheffield, I don’t understand. By pulling him off waivers they can’t deal him and with this season fading away, what’s the point? It’s not as if he’ll carry the Mets for the next seven weeks into the playoffs. Instead, it shows some interest in next year, which is puzzling.

Jerry Manuel said he’d like Sheffield back, but he’s only good when he’s healthy and plays every day. How long ago has that been?

Do the Mets really see a 40-plus, breaking-down outfielder as central to their plans for 2010? If that’s the case, they are in even worse shape than I thought. The Mets need to get younger and more athletic, and Sheffield doesn’t fit that description.

No, they wouldn’t have gotten much for him, but something is better than nothing.