Mar 25

Viola To Have Heart Surgery, Unable To Continue As Pitching Coach

Adam Rubin of ESPN New York is reporting that former Cy Young winner Frank Viola is scheduled to undergo open-heart surgery next Wednesday and will be unable to serve as pitching coach of the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s.

Viola, 53, had a heart issue detected during his initial spring-training physical. Viola spent the past three seasons as a Class A pitching coach for the Mets.

Ron Romanick is expected to replace Viola as the pitching coach for the Pacific Coast League team.

Very sad to hear, my thoughts and prayers go out to him.

Aug 03

Mets mailed it in.

CASTILLO: Key misplay.

The turning point of last night’s game came in the first inning when the Mets couldn’t capitalize on a scoring opportunity and the Braves parlayed Luis Castillo’s muffed DP chance into a three-run inning.

OK, fine, that was the turning point, but the real indictment of the Mets came in the eight other innings. Johan Santana was professional enough to keep the game close, but the Mets’ offense slumbered through what they called a critical game. It’s not the adversity, but how you respond that is critical, and the Mets responded like a .500 team.

To a man, the Mets said they understood the magnitude of last night and this series. Can you imagine what would have happened had they not?

It arguably the most important game of the season, the Mets mailed it in. Yes, Castillo’s defense was sloppy, but the offense gave away too many at-bats and opportunities. They played with disinterest, without passion, without intensity.

Some might say, without heart.

In a game they had to win, the Mets gave up. This week is about trying to regain control their destiny. Instead, they surrendered meekly.

Mar 26

March 26.10: Figueroa’s story won’t change.

As compelling as the underdog story is, there’s a reason for why he is. Just as Cornell lost last night to Kentucky because of depth of talent, that is also the limitation of Nelson Figueroa’s feel-good story.

There’s a reason why Figueroa has bounced around all these years: His talent it that of the sixth man in a five-man rotation. Every once in awhile he shows a glimmer, but overall the more he pitches the more his flaws are exposed.

Figueroa pitches today not so much as an effort to get Jerry Manuel to change his mind about the fifth spot in the rotation but as he does to audition for somebody else.

Figueroa, 35, who refers as himself as an “insurance policy,’’ has been around long enough to know the score.

“I’m in a position where I’m going out there and throwing for 29 other teams right now,’’ Figueroa said. “Being the insurance policy has its benefits. But at the same time, it’s a frustrating situation. I feel like if I’m given the opportunity to be more than that, I can be.’’

But, it won’t happen with the Mets because there’s always a faster gun, somebody who is younger, who throws harder, who is more a natural.

Actually, Figueroa got an extended look last year because of the Mets’ decimated rotation and went 3-8 with a 4.09 ERA. That included losing five consecutive decisions in September,

Figueroa’s heart, grit and determination is the essence of what sport should be, but it isn’t the reality in today’s game, which is driven by the need to win immediately. Maybe in a town with less pressure, Figueroa might get a chance.

But it would be the same story with the Mets, him passing through waivers, going back to Triple-A Buffalo, and waiting for the call generated by the inevitable injury or calamity in the rotation.

Still, pitching minor league baseball for what Figueroa would make is a better job than most of us will have, earning him $119,500 if he spends the full season in the minors.

It just isn’t the job he wants.

Feb 10

Feb. 10.10: Your favorite Met.

It is cold and nasty today where I live in Connecticut. Time to think warm and pleasant thoughts, so here goes: Who is your all-time favorite Met?

He doesn’t have to be good, either. He could be a non-descript outfielder who waved at you in the stands, or your first autograph. Or anything else that made you follow him with your heart.

Sep 26

About Last Night …. Stayin’ Alive.

Here’s the request. Can we not hear anymore comments about choking or not having any heart? Please. After last night, and after the Santana game, it is more than evident this team has enough heart and emotion to win.

What it is lacking is a bullpen and ability to hit consistently in the clutch.

Pedro Martinez showed us all something last night. He’s not the same pitcher he used to be, but his heart is as strong as ever. He somehow found a way to stay out there longer than we all thought. Should the Mets be playing meaningful baseball next week they might need to give Martinez the ball to start Game 4.

He deserves it.