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 27

Fred: “ … we intend to own the franchise for a very long time.”

Whether he was speaking out of defiance or knowledge, Mets owner Fred Wilpon vowed he wasn’t parting with his team. Period.

“Well, (Mets fans) shouldn’t be concerned about us owning the franchise, because we intend to own the franchise for a very long time,’’ Wilpon said this morning in Port St. Luice. “Whether they’re happy about that right now or not, I don’t know. Don’t forget, we cut a lot of payroll that wasn’t producing.’’

JEFF and FRED: Keeping the reins on the Mets.

That much is true, as gone are Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo. Also gone are Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes, but they were productive Mets last season.

Wilpon reiterated the refrain often sung by the Mets in recent seasons in hoping for bounce back seasons from the injured (Johan Santana, Ike Davis and David Wright) and the non-producing (Wright, Jason Bay and Mike Pelfrey). If all those things are realized and GM Sandy Alderson’s patchwork bullpen is productive, the Mets could overachieve.

Perhaps the key personnel issue facing the Mets this year is Wright’s future and Wilpon said he wants him to stay. He did not, however, say he’ll do everything in his power to make sure he stays.

Reyes, Wilpon said, was more a baseball decision than it was an economic choice, although the two are linked. Based on Reyes’ frequent injury history, Wilpon was leery of a long-term deal to Reyes. Wilpon said $100 million was on the table, but was linked to incentives such as games played and at-bats, which Reyes turned down. The rejection spoke more of Reyes than it did Wilpon.

Ideally, the Mets would like to build around a relatively young core and ride out the Santana and Bay contracts. If those two are healthy and productive they could help the Mets overachieve and draw a few more fans, and in the process, not make it necessary to deal Wright. Then Bay and Santana can be cut loose are their contracts expire to give the Mets more flexibility.

Feb 15

Encouraging news about Ike Davis

Several key Mets enter spring training coming off significant injuries. When it comes to injuries, I fall into the “I’ll believe it when I see it” category.

DAVIS: Ankle feeling better.

What Ike Davis is seeing – and feeling – is progress in his recovering from last year’s ankle injury which kept him out of most of the season. He told reporters “he’s good to go,” and that he’d be apprehensive if he felt any discomfort.

His most telling comment was: “If I play horrible, it’s not my ankle’s fault. It’s just because I’m not very good.”

Nobody is expecting Davis to be horrible, or even just average for that matter. Davis was stroking the ball when he sustained a bone bruise in a collision with David Wright. His seven homers and 25 RBI in just 129 at-bats had him on pace to hit 30 homers with 110 RBI.

Remember, that was on-pace, not numbers he’d previously reached. It’s exciting to think about Davis’ potential power production, but he’s never had a full season where he’s hit 30 homers, so we can’t say for sure he’ll reach that plateau.

There’s a lot to like about Davis. He has raw power and has gotten better around the bag. This is a guy teams would hope to build around. We know Wright can hit and Bay has hit in the past. If all three live up to their potential, the Mets could have an imposing middle of the order.

 

 

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 01

Ike Has Visions Of Post Season Dancing In His Head

Last night at the 32nd Annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner in New York, Daniel Murphy told reporters that expectations for the Mets this season are to make the playoffs.

“Expectations for us this year are like any other. We expect to go to the playoffs.”

His thoughts on Terry Collins seeing him batting in the leadoff spot:

“I am gonna hit wherever he tells me, I am gonna hit wherever he sees best fit. If I am hitting No. 1 that means I am in the lineup. That’s a good sign for me.”

Murphy reserved his best comment on him raking in 2012 and busting out with Ike Davis:

“I sent Ike Davis a text. I told him I was putting in a request with TC to hit somewhere near him to get some good pitches. That guy is a killer and I want to be near him,” Murphy said. “He kind of laughed and texted back: ‘Let’s go dominate.’ I think we’re ready and excited for the season.”

This guy is sumthin’ else and I’m glad he’s on our side… I’m with 28 too…