Sep 22

It’s over, finally.

The inevitable became official last night when the Florida Marlins eliminated the Mets from playoff contention for the third time in four years. The Marlins might have administered the killing blow, but last night, as in the other two years, the Mets killed themselves.

Last night was a microcosm of this season in many ways, beginning with an offense that squandered numerous opportunities to eventually waste a strong starting performance, this time from Mike Pelfrey. The Mets’ inability t0 produce, much less in the clutch, has been a critical weakness all summer.

We’ve been over this before, but most of the starting position players will return next season so the Mets don’t figure to add a big bat. They need to hope for healthy players and improvement. Hoping makes for a very bad plan.

For his part, Pelfrey continues to pitch well enough to win most games, but last night was betrayed by his defense and later the bullpen.

After Pedro Feliciano retired the first two batters in the eighth, Jerry Manuel went to Elmer Dessens, who gave up four straight hits, including a mammoth three-run homer to Gaby Sanchez. Why Feliciano wasn’t allowed to continue is beyond me. He’s certainly more reliable than Dessens.

Another poor bullpen decision, but there have been so many I’ve lost track.

It’s easy to blame injuries, and for the Mets they could wonder what might have been had they not lost significant time from Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay, Jose Reyes and Johan Santana. Still, the Mets’ losses weren’t as severe as those of the Phillies, but they managed to overcome and have won 21 of their last 25, the kind of hot streak Manuel kept waiting for, but never came.

Championship caliber teams must find a way to overcome from injuries and the Mets did not. There were simply too many times this season when they beat themselves, whether it be an error in the field, giving away an at-bat, or throwing a lazy pitch.

You are what your record says you are, and for the Mets they are a losing team for the second straight season, and out of the playoffs for the fourth straight year.

On an interesting note, Manuel responded to Joe Torre’s comments about being curious about the Mets’ job, and Torre responded by apologizing to Manuel and saying he was closing the door on managing the Mets. Torre should have danced around the question better and apologized for violating an unwritten protocol.

Still, people change their minds so I wouldn’t write off the Mets and Torre talking after the season. It’s not as if Torre backing off now will save Manuel’s job. The Mets have not been shy in the past for going after media outlets for stories they didn’t like, or weren’t correct. The Mets have not told one media outlet to back off on Manuel, nor have they made any comment about his returning.

They have left Manuel alone to twist in the wind because they know he’s not returning. They are studying their options. Speaking of which, they appear to have lost out on Kevin Towers, who appears to be headed for Arizona. He would have been intriguing.

So, it is officially over, but we’ve known for awhile now that it wasn’t going to happen for the Mets. For me, I thought the series just prior to the break when they lost to Atlanta was a determining moment. From there, came the disastrous West Coast slide that coincided with the return of Carlos Beltran.

From there, the rest of the season was a formality.

Sep 21

Have to consider Torre.

TORRE: Must explore this.

Joe Torre has left the door open to managing again and would be interested in talking with the Wilpons.

“I am curious,” Torre said yesterday.  “When the season is over, I hope the phone will be ringing… I don’t really anticipate managing again, but I think it would be unfair not to listen just out of curiosity to see if something excites me.”

In this case, one plus one must equal two.

I am a Torre advocate, and believe he would immediately change the culture around this stagnant organization. Future Hall of Fame managers aren’t readily available and if this one is interested the Mets would be doing themselves and their frustrated fan base a disservice if they don’t explore the possibility.

The man has four World Series rings on his resume as a manager, which I believe is four more than Wally Backman and Bobby Valentine. He knows how to win and knows the pressure that comes in winning in New York.

For all the talk about building with youth, Torre knows how that’s done as it is how the Yankee dynasty under him was built. One cornerstone at a time: Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada.

And, nobody commands respect like Torre. If there’s a crisis, I’d rather have a guy who has known he can handle it over a guy who has never managed on this level. You also won’t catch him sitting in the dugout with glasses and a fake moustache.

And please, let’s not talk about his laid back personality. He has his players’ attention. I’ve said it before, his is an iron fist in a velvet glove.

Torre would immediately bring respectability to the Mets, give them a credibility they have long lacked.

Let’s also not talk about him being 70 years old. He keeps himself in great shape and the Mets would provide a challenge to keep him interested. The Mets are a .500 team, that with a little tweaking, adding and luck, could improve on that next season. The aura of what Torre would bring to the table would automatically improve the Mets.

Torre would change the atmosphere in his first year, and in his second, after the books have been cleared of Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez – and possibly Francisco Rodriguez – his reputation would undoubtedly attract free agents who previously might have shunned the Mets.

Don Mattingly will manage the Dodgers next year after working under Torre. If the Mets are indeed grooming Backman, wouldn’t it be better for him to learn under Torre than to throw him to the wolves now?

David Wright spoke the other day about changing the attitude, the culture of the Mets and Torre would do that unquestionably. He brings the dimension of winning to the table that few other candidates can provide.

Torre would not come cheaply, but if the Mets are serious about change, then you must pay for it.

Sep 18

New Mets Chat; Gotta make a run at Torre.

Game #149 vs. Braves

T0 access the New Chat Room, click onto the Mets Chat icon to your left.

I can’t believe what I’m hearing this morning, that the Mets aren’t interested in Joe Torre. Yeah, maybe I can. And, unbelievably, there are some who believe he doesn’t have the right personality for the Mets. They probably are right. Torre has a winning personality and the Mets are a fall-short organization.

I’ll bottom line it for you: Joe Torre is a Hall of Fame manager who can only help the Mets. He’s been through it all, knows the ropes and knows how to handle players young and old. Laid back? What crap. When  Torre has an edge, there are none sharper. He knows how to motivate and how to teach. He has an iron fist underneath a velvet glove.

For those you think he can’t deal with young players, guess again. Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera all cut their teeth with Torre. As the Yankees rose to prominence in the late 1990’s all those young players made their mark under Torre. Bernie Williams became a star under Torre.

There is only one reason why the Mets won’t consider Torre and it has nothing to do with age or having the right personality. It has everything to do with being cheap and not paying what it takes to get out of their stagnant state. It is why they low-balled Willie Randolph and replaced him with Jerry Manuel. It is why they are talking about Wally Backman.

The Mets don’t know where to spend their money where it’s needed most. They cut some corners on the really important things.

If Torre wants to manage again, and he’d return to the Dodgers if the circumstances were right and that organization wasn’t in disarray, then the Mets should make a run at him.

Right personality? For those who think he doesn’t have the right personality they don’t know Torre or baseball. The man is a winner and he can only help the Mets. He can make them respectable and lift them from the laughingstock persona they are today.

If they aren’t interested, then they are saying they really don’t care about getting better.

Oct 10

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Dodgers stymie Pujols; go for sweep.

The Cardinals were a pick of mine to advance. I thought the Dodgers’ pitching was suspect and Albert Pujols could take over a series. So far, I have been wrong. The Dodgers have limited the Cardinals to five runs in the two games and go for the sweep today in St. Louis.

Of course, if Matt Holliday could catch a line drive the NLDS would be tied at a game apiece. He couldn’t and it is not.

PUJOLS: Cardinals need his bat.

PUJOLS: Cardinals need his bat.

That play was a major storyline. So is the Dodgers’ unwillingness to pitch to Pujols. Like Barry Bonds a few years ago, Pujols is to be avoided.

Pujols, the NL MVP favorite, hit .327 with a major league-leading 47 homers and 135 RBI. He as also intentionally walked 44 times, most in the majors. In the first two games of this series the Dodgers have limited him to a single in six at-bats. They’ve walked him intentionally the three times he came to the plate with runners in scoring position.

“To me, Albert is just out there in a class by himself,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Friday. “It may cost me, you know, a three-run homer instead of a two-run homer. But I’m still going to make somebody else beat me.”

The Cardinals have the power to complement Pujols, but Los Angeles’ pitching has been too good.

“One of the reasons we were a lot better in the last half of the year is we have protection behind him,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “If Albert keeps getting on base, we’ll pick him up.”

For the Cardinals, who stranded 14 runners in Game 1, it has to happen soon.

Feb 05

Is Torre right about Beltran?

In his book, Joe Torre took a jab at Carlos Beltran, calling him soft mentally and questioned his leadership capabilities. It’s a rap that resurfaced during the Mets’ pennant race fades the past two years.

Torre said Beltran wanted to come to the Yankees for a discount, but was talked out of it by his agent, Scott Boras, who got him an extra year and $19 million more with the Mets (seven at $119 million).

Said Torre: “Beltran wanted to come to us, so he could hide among the trees. Nobody wants to be that guy to lead.”

Not surprisingly, Beltran refuted Torre at last night’s Thurman Munson Dinner.

“First of all, I don’t know Joe Torre personally, so I don’t know what kind of person he is,” Beltran said. “The second thing I have to say is that when I met with the Yankees when I was a free agent, he wasn’t there, so you know, he didn’t know that we talked, so I didn’t meet him. So if he did say what he said, then that’s his opinion. I don’t have to comment on that. I feel very happy where I am.”

Beltran said Torre will have one less sale.