Aug 01

It’s Rosario’s Time

Well folks, you got your wish as Amed Rosario will be in the Mets’ lineup tonight in Denver. The player GM Sandy Alderson refused to bring up until the white flag was officially raised on this season is supposed to represent the rebuilding of the team many thought could be heading to the World Series.

How good is Rosario?

ROSARIO: It's time. (AP)

ROSARIO: It’s time. (AP)

His .328 batting average tells us he can hit Triple-A pitching. Limited glimpses of him during spring training says he has the potential to become an elite defender. Minor league instructor Tim Teufel told The Post a lot when he said, “he’s not a finished product, yet,’’ yet admitted he might have become a little bored in the minors.

Getting bored and his Tweet literally screaming at the Mets to bring him up aren’t positive signs, but at 21 he gets a pass. Not every young player becomes a David Wright or Derek Jeter in that they always say the right things.

I called for the Mets to bring up Rosario nearly a month ago, but I appreciate part of Alderson’s reluctance. His inability to deal Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker and Jose Reyes creates a logjam in the infield, but that’s manager Terry Collins’ problem. However, limited playing opportunities for Cabrera might make it more difficult to trade him, unless the Mets are willing to nearly give him away.

Alderson’s problem in making trades is he continually holds out; his priority is to “win’’ the trade, which turns off other general managers. At least, that’s his reputation. It is the primary reason he couldn’t – thankfully – move Jay Bruce last winter.

The timing of the promotion is good with the Mets are on the road, which should give Rosario three games to get rid of the butterflies. Opening up at home, against the high-flying Dodgers, would have put undue pressure on him. It’s also a good time because it is August, and the competition will be sharper than in September when opposing rosters are littered with call-ups. That’s also why first baseman Dominic Smith’s promotion soon is important.

“We want to see what we have, so going into next season or going into the offseason we will have a better sense of what we need,’’ Alderson said yesterday on a conference call. “I think it’s important for guys like Rosario and Smith to get more than just playing time in September. To make it meaningful, it has to be a little bit longer than that, and against more regular-season competition as opposed to expanded rosters.’’

I suppose it is possible if Rosario is a bust for the next two months it might change the Mets’ thinking on Cabrera and Reyes. But, Rosario won’t play every day, said Alderson, because “he’s never played that many games in a year.’’

Huh? He’s 21. He’s not a pitcher. Sure, he should get a day off this weekend, just to clear his head from the call-up, but I want to see this guy play. I want to see what the Mets have.  I would play Rosario more in August when the competition is better and let him rest more in September.

What I also want to see is patience with him if he struggles at first. Give him a chance to experience and learn how to get out of slumps. Above all, the Mets – and the fans and media – should give him a little breathing room and acknowledge he’s one piece to the puzzle, he’s not a savior.

Look back within the past ten years at some of the prospects the Mets used, and burned out, with too high expectations: Lastings Milledge, Mike Pelfrey, Carlos Gomez, Jenrry Mejia, Kaz Matsui and Ike Davis. You can even make cases to a lesser extent for Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares and even Matt Harvey.

The expectations on all of these guys created a burden that was too heavy for them to carry. Let’s enjoy Rosario’s skills, but realize he alone won’t lift the Mets to the next level.

ON DECK:  Can Steven Matz snap out of his funk?

Dec 09

Mets Find Little Interest In Bruce

Once again the Mets’ eagerness to get rid of a player is hindering their ability to make a trade. And make no mistake, the Mets don’t just want to trade Jay Bruce, they want to dump him.

If they could take back the trade that cost them prospect Dilson Herrera, they would do it in a heartbeat. They’d be lucky to get as much back.

BRUCE: Little interest. (AP)

BRUCE: Little interest. (AP)

The Mets made it clear they wanted to trade Ike Davis and the return was scant. They also made no secret of their desire to get rid of Oliver Perez, subsequently released him during spring training of 2011. While trying him in the bullpen was a natural option, but they didn’t do that and he’s been effective in that role since.

The Mets were also vocal in their displeasure of Jason Bay and had to buy him out. And, what did they get for Lastings Milledge, Francisco Rodriguez or Luis Castillo?

You’re right, next to nothing.

The point is if a team doesn’t want a player, the industry will find out without having to take out an ad or go on Facebook. If you’re that vocal in wanting to deal him, his trade value plummets. In what industry does a corporation (a team) go to such great lengths to devalue the product (the player) it is trying to sell (trade)?

You’re right again, the Mets.

The Mets made no secret their intention was to pick up Bruce’s option first as a safety net and then trade after they extended Yoenis Cespedes.

The New York Post described the interest in Bruce as “tepid” and “minimal.” Maybe the Mets will eventually make a deal, but don’t count on them getting the reliever they need.

The market is such that there is currently a glut of outfielders, which makes it more difficult to trade an outfielder. Why trade when you can sign a player and not having to surrender players or prospects in return?

It’s common sense and the Mets should have seen this coming.

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Feb 25

Gotta Love Buck Showalter

The New York Mets were roasted during their first year at Citi Field because the new stadium showed more a Brooklyn Dodgers feel than that of the Mets.

That never would have happened had Buck Showalter been running the show. Showalter, who is cut from the original old school cloth, gets it when honoring the game’s past.

Frank Robinson was in Orioles’ camp Monday and Showalter casually asked 19-year-old prospect Josh Hart if he knew about the Hall of Famer, a member of the 500-homer club and one of the three greatest players in club history along with Brooks Robinson and Cal Ripken.

Incidentally, Robinson was also the first African-American manager in major league history, and as a black man, you would think that’s something Hart would want to know.

When Hart said he didn’t know, Showalter assigned the rookie to write a one-page report on Robinson. Kind of like “I will not talk in class,’’ 100 times on the blackboard.

Hart not knowing Robinson ranks just below on the ignorance scale of LeBron James – who prides himself as a basketball historian – leaving Bill Russell off his NBA Mt. Rushmore.

The Robinson-Hart reminds me of something that happened in spring training several years ago, and also involved Robinson.

Then Mets-GM Omar Minaya asked former prospect Lastings Milledge to follow him across the field to the Washington dugout to introduce him to then-Nationals manager Robinson.

Milledge could not have been less interested and showed Robinson zero respect. And, in doing so showed the same amount to Minaya.

It was a precursor of things to come for Milledge, who was chastised by manager Willie Randolph for not honoring the game’s unspoken traditions, and later by his teammates, who posted a sign on his locker saying, “Know your place, Rook. Signed, your teammates.’’

Milledge never did get it and his career fell into “what might have been,’’ status. Here’s hoping Hart gets the message.

May 28

David Wright Proves Captaincy Every Day

There was no other choice but David Wright to be Mets’ captain, and throughout this disappointing season showed again Monday night why he is special and the best position player they ever produced.

Daniel Murphy drove in the game-winner and Jon Niese was superb in a bounce-back start, but the Mets don’t win – period – without Wright.

WRIGHT: Proves worth daily.

              WRIGHT: Proves worth daily.

With the life sucked out of the Mets the previous inning on Brett Gardner’s homer-robbing catch of Murphy’s drive and Mariano Rivera looming for the Yankees, Wright drilled a Phil Hughes pitch for a game-tying homer in the seventh. And, with the Yankees threatening the following inning, he made a scintillating play to start a 5-4-3 double play.

“Big players make big plays,’’ manager Terry Collins would later say. “ That’s what he is. That’s why he’s the captain. It’s amazing how many times those guys come through for you.’’

However, Wright comes through in other ways.

With the fan base showing absolutely no faith in ownership, and despite knowing he could have gotten more money elsewhere – not to mention being able to produce better numbers in another park – Wright opted to stay with the Mets.

Yes, he’ll get $138 million over the next eight years, but it will come with more headaches and definitely more losing. The Mets are on their way to a fifth straight losing season, and there will likely be a lot more before they are on the north side of .500, let alone seeing October again.

As the losing continues, Wright is the spokesman for his teammates. That’s the price of being captain.

“Well, we’re not playing good baseball,’’ said Wright. “That’s easy to see. But it’s a resilient group. And you have to understand that we know there’s going to be tough times over the course of this season. … It’s not time to hold your heads down and mope around. We’ve got to find a way to compete, find ways to execute.’’

It gets tiring night after night to speak for and take the heat off his frequently over-matched teammates. Wright is stand-up. When the team implodes, or is stung with disappointment, it is Wright who gives the analysis.

Surely, there are times he’d much rather soak in the whirlpool or stretch out in the player’s lounge munching on fresh fruit, if not savoring a cold one, but giving answers comes with being a captain, of which Wright still insists, “it is an honor.’’

His responsibilities also include offering support for Ike Davis after one of his several multi-strikeout games. Wright does this willingly because Davis is a good guy with a pleasant demeanor despite being lost at the plate.

However, it also means acting as a buffer for the unpopular and polarizing Jordany Valdespin. Like everybody else in his clubhouse, Wright didn’t agree with Valdespin’s styling after a meaningless home run, but he is a teammate, and Wright had to speak on his behalf.

Even now, Wright will be delicate in how he handles Valdespin and other delicate topics. When managers Willie Randolph and Jerry Manuel were fired, Wright properly said the onus should be on the players.

Earlier in his career, when veterans such as Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez surrounded Wright, he was the voice of this franchise.

When Jose Reyes was injured and wanted to stay in a game, Wright rightfully told his manager because the team came first. It is Wright who goes to the mound and settles a pitcher, which he frequently did with Mike Pelfrey. It is Wright who pulls a player aside, as with Lastings Milledge and Fernando Martinez, to tell them in a stern, yet not embarrassing way, to show up on time or run out a ball.

Murphy calls Wright “a professional,’’ and it might be one of the best descriptors for the Mets’ captain, a player who personifies what is good about his team.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Apr 05

Why It Went Wrong For Lastings Milledge

I will remember it as if I saw it yesterday for the first time.

A sheet of notebook paper, with the words, “Know your place, rook … signed, your teammates,’’ was taped over Lastings Milledge’s locker in the Mets’ clubhouse in old RFK Stadium. This, in the late summer in 2006.

MILLEDGE: Once he burned bright.

MILLEDGE: Once he burned bright.

The Mets were en route to the playoffs and a veteran laden team was rubbed the wrong way by Milledge’s brashness and arrogance. Then-manager Willie Randolph – who reprimanded Milledge several times that summer – ripped down the sign, but knew he hadn’t ripped away the problem.

The Mets labeled it a misunderstanding, and Randolph called Milledge “a good kid,’’ but this clearly was not a misunderstanding with a teammate. It was the accumulation of several incidents that rankled several teammates.

Milledge burst upon the Mets, hitting over .300, was dazzling on the bases and showed a strong arm. He was going to be the next “fill in the blank.’’ Willie Mays? Roberto Clemente?

However, things quickly cooled after his first career homer, when on his way to the outfield he high-fived fans down the right field line in Shea Stadium. Randolph sensed how the Giants seethed in their dugout, especially since he saw some of his own players do the same.

Randolph reprimanded Milledge on the unwritten laws in baseball, but it didn’t take. There were ground balls he didn’t run out and times he didn’t hustle in the outfield. He was flash with the jewelry swinging wildly on the field, but in the clubhouse he often sat buried in his locker wearing headphones or playing a video game.

He came off as sullen and angry and clearly couldn’t be bothered by getting to know his teammates. Or, a baseball legend for that matter. During spring training then-GM Omar Minaya brought Milledge to the Nationals dugout to meet Frank Robinson, but Milledge was came off as being in-different.

Finally, he arrived in the clubhouse in Philadelphia an hour before a day game. Although it was early, the veterans made it in on time. David Wright had enough when Milledge strolled in with sunglasses and an iPod as if he owned the place and told him this wasn’t acceptable.

Wright wouldn’t belabor the issue Opening Day, only managing to say “seniority is big in this game,’’ which is the politically-correct translation for Milledge hadn’t earned his stripes.

Milledge popped into my consciousness today when I learned it was his 28th birthday, an age when he should be in the prime of his career. Instead, Milledge is one of hundreds of baseball prospects given the label of “can’t miss, but eventually did.’’

Seven years ago – the career lifetime of a select few – the Mets had three prized outfield prospects in Milledge, Carlos Gomez and Francisco Martinez. One by one they arrived, fizzled to the point of exasperation and were traded. Not one of them hustled like journeyman outfielder Collin Cowgill.

After turning down several proposals for Manny Ramirez, the Mets eventually traded Milledge to Washington as part of a trade that brought Ryan Church – he of the concussion fiasco – and catcher Brian Schneider. Milledge had his coffee to go with Washington, then Pittsburgh and finally the White Sox before heading to Japan. Milledge had his head-scratching moments in each place, but basically stopped hitting.

At 28, Milledge is still young. It’s about discipline in Japan and if Milledge comes back with a changed attitude perhaps he’ll get another chance. It’s a long way to Japan, and perhaps an even longer route back to the major leagues.

ON DECK: The 73 Series continues with “Ya Gotta Believe” slogan