Mar 13

Memo To Alderson: Stop Treating Mets Fans Like Chumps

I understand as a longtime baseball executive, Mets GM Sandy Alderson knows more about the inner workings of the sport, and his team, than I do.

By definition, he has to.

ALDERSON: Has shades when it comes to Met fans. (AP)

ALDERSON: Has shades when it comes to Met fans. (AP)

However, I am not stupid, and I don’t think my readers are, either. Sandy, I don’t know how to build a watch, but I know how to tell time.

And, the time has come to say again Mets fans are loyal and passionate, and don’t deserve to be treated like idiots, because they are not.

In the book, “Baseball Maverick,’’ Steve Kettmann – who covered the Oakland Athletics – revealed a disturbing nugget about Alderson.

Alderson said: “Madoff wasn’t even a topic of conversation in my interview for the Mets job. I didn’t raise it. Maybe I should have. The bottom line is, I would have taken the job anyway. It just added to the challenge.’’

The reason Alderson didn’t ask about Madoff is because it wasn’t a real job interview. Of course, Alderson was going to take the job. Alderson was gift-wrapped to the Wilpons by commissioner Bud Selig, and Madoff was a non-issue.

As part of his job in the commissioner’s office, Alderson was re-assigned to be Mets’ general manager.

The Alderson-Selig-Wilpon relationship was too cozy and underscored the deserved criticism of the former commissioner in that he gave Wilpon a free pass. In doing so, it also highlighted his biased handling of the Frank McCourt case when he owned the Los Angeles Dodgers. Selig disliked McCourt intensely and wanted him out, even though his handling of the Dodgers was not as clumsy as Wilpon has been sometimes with the Mets.

Regarding the Mets’ finances over the past four years, Alderson told reporters yesterday payroll has increased by $15 million over last year. It irritates me no end to hear Alderson say the Mets’ payroll is of no relevance to him.

“I never talked about the payroll as an unfortunate limitation to us,” Alderson said. “I haven’t talked about it recently. I haven’t talked about it in the past. I don’t intend to. It’s not relevant to me.”

Let’s get this straight. Alderson is the GM of a major league baseball team and the payroll doesn’t matter to him. What then is relevant to him?

For a New York franchise supposedly on the upswing, that $15 million is a drop in the bucket, and didn’t do anything to upgrade: shortstop, the lefty situation in the bullpen and the offense.

The Mets are going with the hope of cheap patchwork from outside – Michael Cuddyer and John Mayberry – the hope of injured players on the mend – David Wright and Matt Harvey – and hope of young players making progress, namely Zack Wheeler, Juan Lagares and Jacob deGrom.

But, as I’ve said before, hoping is not a viable strategy.

 

Mar 09

Mets Today: Wheeler Starts Against Marlins; Lineups

Zack Wheeler makes his spring training debut for the Mets against Miami, with former Yankee David Phelps starting for the Marlins.

Wheeler pitched in last Tuesday’s intrasquad game and gave up two hits and two walks in 1.2 innings.

Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen said Wheeler’s mechanics were off in that he was throwing across his body.

Here are today’s lineups:

METS

Curtis Granderson,rf

Ruben Tejada, ss

David Wright, 3b

Michael Cuddyer, 1b

Daniel Murphy, 2b

John Mayberry Jr., lf

Kevin Plawecki, c

Matt den Dekker, cf

Gavin Cecchini, dh

 

Zack Wheeler, rhp

MIAMI

Jordany Valdespin, rf

Derek Dietrich, 2b

Marcell Ozuna, cf

Michael Morse, 1b

Jarrod Saltalmacchia, c

Jeff Baker, dh

Don Kelly, 3b

Cole Gillespie, lf

Reid Brignac, ss

 

David Phelps, rhp

NOTES: Do you remember when Valdespin posted an online picture of himself wearing a Marlins cap? One of the great bonehead moves of all time. Well, he’s wearing it for real today. … Murphy returns to lineup. I like him in the middle of the order because those are better RBI opportunities. … With Juan Lagares getting the day off, Granderson is hitting leadoff. … Cuddyer hitting cleanup again. He’ll likely hit there during the season when Lucas Duda gets a day off against a tough lefthander. … By the way, Duda will take BP today and could get in a game Friday. … Commissioner Rob Manfred is in camp.

Mar 08

Mets Wrap: Niese Takes Loss Against Boston

After retiring eight straight hitters to start the game, Mets pitcher Jon Niese gave up three consecutive hits and a walk and left Sunday’s 6-3 loss to Boston after 52 pitches.

It is too early to make a judgment, but a familiar flaw resurfaced, which is Niese’s inability to pitch out of trouble and put away an inning.

On the plus side, Niese worked quickly and showed good command in his first two innings. Also on the plus side, he pitched without pain or discomfort.

NIESE: Decent first start. (AP)

NIESE: Decent first start. (AP)

Regarding his health, Niese told SNY after his outing: “I feel a lot different. All my pitches are working. I’m progressing well and my velocity is up there.’’

A healthy and productive Niese is important because he offers somewhat of a lefty balance to the rotation and eats innings.

MURPHY UPDATE: Daniel Murphy took batting practice Sunday and reported no pain.

Murphy was struck on the right hand by a David Price pitch Friday and is day-to-day.

DUDA NEWS: Lucas Duda, sidelined with a strained left intercostal muscle, has been hitting off a tee and is expected to take batting practice Monday.

Duda might play this week.

OPENING DAY PARTY: The Mets will host a viewing party at Citi Field for their Opening Day game against Washington. The tickets are free, but it will cost you $10 to park. Presumably, concessions will also be available. Tickets can be ordered online at mets.com/watchparty.

EXTRA INNINGS: Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who is out of options and figures to make the team as a back-up outfielder, continued his good spring with a double and two singles. … Center fielder Juan Lagares is nursing a sore right elbow, which is what forced him to end last year early. … Five straight Met relievers walked the first batter they faced. … Mets pitchers walked ten and hit a batter. That will get you beat. … Former Mets first baseman Tony Clark and current MLBPA chief Tony Clark visited camp Sunday. He did not object to the Mets’ payroll or their voluntary-but-really-mandatory offseason workouts. … Zack Wheeler starts for the Mets Monday against Miami at Tradition Field. The game will be broadcast on SNY.

Mar 02

Mets Matters: Looking At Harvey, Left Field And Other Issues

It is way too early for rave reviews, but the first impression of Matt Harvey have been positive. Harvey threw to hitters – who swung this time – Monday morning and the reaction has been good.

Curtis Granderson especially liked Harvey’s command, telling reporters: “The big thing is he went to both sides of the plate really consistently and accurately and effectively. If he did miss, it was a miss that he wanted to make — not toward the middle of the plate.’’

mets-matters logoHarvey is ready, if not anxious.

“Once the hitters start swinging, that’s kind of a sign games are near and the season is coming closer,’’ Harvey said. “For us it’s exciting. Especially being 18 months from a competitive game, it’s a good feeling.’’

This is the last time for Harvey to be scheduled against hitters before Friday’s exhibition game against Detroit.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen said Harvey is slated to throw 35 pitches over two innings Friday, and will not exceed 40 pitches.

DUDA TO SWING THIS WEEK: First baseman Lucas Duda, bothered by a strained left intercostal muscle, could start hitting off a tee this week.

Manager Terry Collins said if that goes well he could start taking batting practice next week.

UP IN THE AIR: Collins hasn’t decided who’ll be his leadoff hitter, but favors Juan Lagares over Granderson.

Collins wants Lagares’ on-base percentage, which was .321 last season, to be in the .330 to .340 range.

Left field is to be determined between Granderson and Michael Cuddyer. Neither is greatly experience in left field, but both say they are willing to play wherever Collins wants. Cuddyer has three career starts in left, while Granderson has 22. Collins will rotate them for two weeks before making a decision.

“Obviously I don’t have much experience, but at the same time there’s no saying that I can’t come over there and learn,’’ Cuddyer told reporters about playing left field. “I take a lot of pride in being an athlete, not just a right fielder or a first baseman. It’s being a baseball player. And the definition of being a baseball player is going out and playing baseball where the manager puts you. So it’s fine with me.’’

You love to hear that stuff.

 

Feb 28

Mets Matters: Collins Prefers Lagares At Leadoff

Mets manager Terry Collins stated a preference today for Juan Lagares over Curtis Granderson as the leadoff hitter.

Lagares has the speed, but strikes out too much and doesn’t have the on-base percentage – at least not yet – needed for that slot in the order. Lagares’ on-base percentage last year was .321 and Collins said he’d like it to be in the .330 to .340 range.

“You’d like it higher, but we’ve got to start with a reachable number for sure,’’ Collins told reporters today in Port St. Lucie.

mets-matters logoTODAY’S PRACTICE RAINED OUT: As they are several times every spring, rain forced the Mets into the inside today.

The Mets have batting cages and pitching mounds under cover, and there’s always a contingency plan for practice inside in case of inclement weather.

Both in good weather and bad, nearly every minute is scripted and accounted for.

HARVEY UPDATE: On the day after throwing 43 pitches to non-swinging hitters Friday, Matt Harvey reported no pain in his surgically-repaired elbow today.

Harvey is expected to throw batting practice Monday and start the March 6 exhibition game against Detroit at Tradition Field.

The Mets’ exhibition schedule begins Wednesday against Atlanta at the Disney complex in Orlando. Dillon Gee is scheduled to start, thereby starting the showcasing.

The Mets will hold an intrasquad game Tuesday.