Oct 25

Mets’ GM search in second phase

Mets fans might have celebrated hollow victories over the weekend when the Yankees and Phillies were eliminated from the postseason on consecutive nights, the final out in each game coming on a called third strike. Alex Rodriguez one night; Ryan Howard the other.

Of course, rooting against the Yankees and Phillies is futile work, as it does nothing toward the improvement of the Mets.

However, the most important development lately has been the narrowing of the GM candidates to Josh Byrnes and Sandy Alderson.

Byrnes will interview with ownership, including Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, today, and Alderson will be on stage tomorrow. Both are highly regarded and will inherit a team with a high payroll and a myriad of issues.

Neither will be able to turn the program around in a year, and such a promise hasn’t been made by either in the first round of interviews.

Both GM candidates indicate Wally Backman is on their list of prospective managerial candidates, which parallels the Wilpon’s thinking. That is not to say Backman is a given, but he will get an honest shot. There are several things about Backman that concern me, most is the perception he is the Wilpon pick and he’s being forced on to the new general manager. My preference for Backman is to be promoted to bench coach and work under an experienced manager.

The new GM will inherit a team slightly below .500, meaning there is reason to be optimistic about improvement should all the pieces fall into place, notably the healthy returns of Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran, continued development from Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese, and an encore from RA Dickey. The Mets aren’t void of talent, and improvement should occur, but they are still behind the Phillies and Braves, but those teams have their own issues.

A GM decision could be made as soon the off day following Game 2, which is a travel day in the World Series. As written here before, the GM candidates have their thinking on the manager, so that process should turn around rather quickly.

The first order of offseason business might night be conducted by assistant GM John Ricco and Jeff Wilpon, and that would be the re-signing of reliever Hisanori Takahashi. The Mets have until Oct. 31 to re-sign Takahashi, otherwise he can become a free agent.

Takahashi did everything the Mets asked of him last season as a starter or in a variety of bullpen roles, but the left-hander prefers to start. The Mets could promise him a chance to compete for a starting job in spring training or they could overpay to keep him in the pen.

Reportedly, Takahashi is seeking a two-year deal and he’s worth it based on what he did in 2010.

Oct 19

Why isn’t Fred talking with Alderson again?

I’ve been hearing there are no plans for Fred Wilpon and/or Saul Katz to speak with Sandy Alderson during his second interview and that has me wondering.

Why not? Isn’t there anything else they can ask of Alderson? Maybe Alderson has some questions of his own. Either way, I would’ve hoped Fred Wilpon, who said, “the buck stops with me,” would’ve wanted to get more involved in the interview process.

I don’t know what questions Fred and Katz asked the first time, if any, but I keep hearing the candidates met with Jeff Wilpon and John Ricco. I haven’t heard about Fred’s input in the interview process, but I would like to know what it is and what questions he might have asked.

Oct 14

Don’t bank on Backman

Following the Mets’ GM search brings a couple of thoughts to mind.

BACKMAN: Would he be a gimmick hire?

I don’t see the Mets hiring Sandy Alderson plus Rick Hahn, as has been suggested.  I believe the job is Alderson’s for the taking, which would enable him to help groom John Ricco to be his successor. I don’t think they’ll end up hiring one assistant GM (Hahn) when they won’t interview their current assistant GM. If they did, they’ll take a risk at losing Ricco.

Because of Logan White’s proficiency in scouting, I can see him joining Alderson.

Whomever, the Mets hire as their general manager, I’m beginning to think Wally Backman won’t be hired as their manager if the new guy has the autonomy the Wilpons have promised. I’ve seen several list of the top managerial candidates and Backman hasn’t been on any of them.

I keep hearing about Backman’s spit and fire, but he’s not the only fiery personality out there, and that’s not the primary quality in a manager. The ability to motivate isn’t confined to yelling and over turning the food spread in the clubhouse. There’s also game management and dealing with player personalities.

Backman has not proven he can be that on a major league level, and with a team in transition such as the Mets a veteran presence is the best option. Like the general manager, I’d prefer a manager with a track record, one who could groom Backman by bringing him on as a bench coach.

This isn’t to say Backman won’t eventually become an accomplished major league manager, but I don’t believe this is the right time. There’s still too much for Backman to learn, and a rebuilding situation like the Mets isn’t the best place to start. I keep hearing about Backman’s fire and the ties to the 1986 championship team, but that sounds more and more like a gimmick hire.

I just don’t see a new general manager tying his success to an unproven manager.

Jun 06

Perez’s MRI evaluated by MLB

Eyes had to be raised when after Oliver Perez, who so vehemently refused a demotion to the minor leagues, suddenly came up lame with patella tendinitis after a MRI the day before the Mets activated Jon Niese from the disabled list.

PEREZ: In better times.

Major League Baseball reviewed the MRI because, shall we say, of the convenient timing of all this for the Mets.

Manager Jerry Manuel said Perez complained of knee pain Friday when he arrived at Citi Field, then had a MRI than revealed the tendinitis.

“He says he’s not able to pitch the way it is right now,’’ assistant general manager John Ricco said. “When a player tells you he’s injured and a doctor confirms that, from where I sit, that’s what the DL is for.’’

Maybe it is convenient, but the truth is Perez had surgery on the same knee in the offseason and this spring has had nothing on his fastball. To say it’s coincidental would be true; to say there is a link would also be true.

“I thought that with the velocity not ever getting to what I saw in 2008, that always concerns me to some degree,’’ Manuel said.  “But the athlete tells you that he’s fine, he’s fine, doesn’t feel anything, you have to give him the benefit of the doubt.’’

Perez will rehab his knee at Port St. Lucie, but the team does not have a timetable for when he’ll throw again.

Perez is 0-3 with a 6.28 ERA in 11 appearances, seven of them starts, and has allowed 76 base runners in 38 2/3 innings.

May 11

May 11.10: Wright’s woes and tonight’s line-up

David Wright was hitting .324 in 426 at-bats prior to his beaning last season and is batting .253 in 217 at-bats since. (Source: ESPN)

He’s also striking out a lot more times.

Wright is batting .277 on 31 hits in 112 at-bats with 42 strikeouts. If those numbers were reversed and he had 42 hits with 31 strikeouts, his average would be .375. Another way of saying it is he’s striking out 37 percent of the time.

In his first full four years, Wright struck out an average of 115 times a season. Last season, Wright struck out 140 times and he is on pace to strike out 188 times this year.

Last season, Wright exceeded his career average by 25 times. If he keeps his pace, he would exceed his pre-2009 career average by 73.

A strikeout is a wasted at bat.

That’s 73 less times he put the ball in play. In keeping with his career average, that would be 23 more hits. And, what about those other 50 at-bats? That’s 50 less chances of a productive at-bat, such as a sacrifice fly, chance to advance the runner into scoring position, chance for a walk, or chance to reach on an error.


Ryota Igarashi is close to beginning a minor league rehab assignment on his left hamstring, said assistant general manager John Ricco.

Igarahsi is threw off the mound without discomfort Monday.

Igarashi had a 1.35 ERA in seven appearances prior to the injury and was moving into the eighth-inning set-up role.

Significantly, getting a healthy Igarashi back would reduce the work loads of Fernando Nieve and Pedro Feliciano.


Tonight’s line-up

No changes, so it is safe to assume Jerry Manuel doesn’t believe the offense has hit rock bottom, yet.

Here’s tonight’s line-up:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Jose Reyes, SS
Jason Bay, LF
David Wright, 3B
Ike Davis, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Rod Barajas, C
Jon Niese, LP