Dec 06

If spring training were to start tomorrow ….

If spring training were to begin spring training tomorrow, the Mets would not bring to Florida that would be worthy of optimism, not with Philadelphia, Atlanta, Miami and Washington all getting better and willing to make the moves the Mets can’t afford in their present economic climate.

When asked what he would say to Mets’ fans to sell them on 2012, GM Sandy Alderson said his sales pitch would be focusing on the future, and if the team was healthy and played to its expectations they could be competitive.

We’ve heard that refrain before and we’ll hear it again,

But for now, assuming no additions to the roster, let’s see what the Mets will bring to Port St. Luice:

STARTING ROTATION

JOHAN SANTANA: Alderson said the other day he expects Santana back in the rotation. Would be nice for him go through a spring training first. There’s no guarantee when Santana will return, and if he does, how effective he’ll be. They can’t be thinking they’ll plug in a Cy Young Award winner.

MIKE PELFREY: The de facto ace last summer after a strong 2010 and Santana’s injury. He’ll get his raise for winning all of seven games. This just might be Pelfrey’s make-or-break season. If the Mets could land another starter, and they’ll need it after losing Chris Capuano to Los Angeles, I wouldn’t be adverse to trying Pelfrey as a closer. Something has to be done to shake up this guy.

RA DICKEY: After a rocky start, Dickey closed strong despite pitching injured. The fluke label should be removed because Dickey has been the Mets’ most consistent starter the past two years. Even so, he’s still a back end of the rotation guy.

DILLON GEE: Like Dickey in 2010, Gee came out of nowhere to become a viable member of the rotation. Gee sprinted out of the gate, but hitters eventually figured him out. However, on the plus side, Gee did his own adjusting. Gee passed through the organization without a lot of flash. Yes, we have to look at his first year with caution, but there’s also reason to be optimistic.

JON NIESE: Niese is another who is an injury question. When he’s been on he’s been nearly untouchable. He’s also had moments when he loses the strike zone. One of the Mets’ best decisions was not to include Niese in the Santana trade. It may turn out he’ll replace him in the rotation.

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Oct 14

Examining the market for Reyes.

In examining the potential market for Jose Reyes, we must first realize there are no concrete numbers. There’s “Carl Crawford Money,” as Fred Wilpon so eloquently called it. The $142 million over seven years given the Boston outfielder is the fuel behind speculation of Reyes’ reported quest of $100-plus million over seven years.

But, it is 0nly speculation, and we won’t have a frame of reference before the first offer is made and Reyes’ camp presents a counter. Until then, every number – including mine – is only an opinion. Reyes’ agent has not publicly stated any contractual demands.

What we do know is few teams can afford a $100 million contract, so the pool is pretty shallow.

So, let’s take a look at some of the teams reportedly in the mix for Reyes, their needs and what might be holding them back.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Boston: The Red Sox are a franchise in turmoil and realize they must do something dramatic to win back their emotional fan base. They have a need for a shortstop, leadoff hitter – Crawford doesn’t prefer that role – and, of course, to keep pace with the Yankees. They have the resources, even though they are burdened with several huge contracts, notably Adrian Gonzalez, Crawford, John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Josh Beckett. Plus, they’ll have to pay Jacoby Ellsbury in arbitration.

However, change should take money off the books in the form of David Ortiz, Jason Varitek and J.D. Drew.

The Red Sox are not a stagnant organization. They made overtures for Reyes before and will likely do so again.

New York: As a matter of course, you have to list the Yankees because, well, afterall they are the Yankees. We know they have the money and could have even more of it if they don’t retain C.C. Sabathia.

However, pitching is their priority, and if they don’t bring back Sabathia they will throw it at C.J. Wilson or a cast of thousands.

The obstacles in signing Reyes will be in getting Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez – both with huge contracts and egos – to change their positions. That won’t happen. Jeter will not give up shortstop to move to third, even though Rodriguez will get more and more DH at-bats, especially with Jorge Posada not coming back.

A wild thought is would Reyes be willing to come to the Yankees to play the outfield? I don’t think he’ll do it, but what if the money was too good?

Just a thought.

Anaheim: Owner Arte Moreno has the money and shown to be a progressive owner. The team missed the playoffs the last two years and he’s not one to sit tight.

First things first, the Angels need to name a general manager, who’ll decide the team’s identity. One thing for sure, Reyes is better than Erick Aybar.

Chicago: I wouldn’t label the White Sox serious contenders, but with new manager Robin Ventura they are a team in transition. As a large market team needing to compete with the Cubs, they can’t be overlooked as they have g0ne after high profile players before.

Their current shortstop Alexei Ramirez tailed off last season, but has enough of a track record to where there isn’t a compelling need to move him.

The White Sox have several decisions to make, including pitcher Mark Buehrle, but I can see Reyes’ camp approaching them, if for no other reason to widen the pool.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Mets: We’ll see how serious the Mets are about Reyes when they have their exclusive negotiating window following the World Series. They say they’d like to keep him and have the money, but at the same time GM Sandy Alderson is talking about shaving $30 million off the payroll.

Alderson said the Mets would like to keep Reyes, he didn’t say they want to keep him, and there’s a difference. There seems to be so sense of urgency from the Mets on Reyes. That indifference could push him out the door.

When you big picture things, the Mets haven’t won with Reyes, and with their current financial situation might be better off using that money to fix several other holes.

Philadelphia: Shane Victorino will have to just accept Reyes. The Phillies, if they lose Jimmy Rollins, should come after Reyes hard. Ryan Howard’s injury would make it more compelling to add offense.

Remember when Andy Pettitte said he wouldn’t sign with the Red Sox because they are the Red Sox and he would always be a Yankee at heart? Nope. Reyes doesn’t have those feelings.

Philadelphia has the money and certainly doesn’t want to waste all that pitching with a stagnant offense. The Phillies will be players in this.

Milwaukee: Reyes has a supporter in Ryan Braun, and the Brewers seem resigned to have Prince Fielder leaving. If the Brewers lose in the playoffs, then have Fielder bolt, they’ll have to do something to keep the fan base.

Normally, you don’t think of the Brewers as a spending team, but things have changed with Miller Park and the franchise, while not crazy, is a little more liberal than it had been.

St. Louis: I have seen the Cardinals mentioned several times, but I don’t see the fit. St. Louis is committed in re-signing Albert Pujols, which is one reason they threw a lot of money at Matt Holliday.

Tony La Russa might be just the manager to get Reyes to reach his potential, but the Cardinals aren’t likely to add a third $100-plus million package.

Chicago: We know the Cubs have the money and a new regime, but they also have an excellent shortstop in Starlin Castro and their eyes on Fielder.

It won’t happen here.

San Francisco: Reportedly, the Giants don’t have, or want, to spend the money on what it would take to get Reyes, but I’m not buying it. There’s a sense of urgency for the Giants to return to the playoffs after winning the World Series in 2010.

They definitely have the pitching to take them there, but are lacking offense. Maybe, they’ll re-sign Carlos Beltran, but their need is a shortstop and speed. Reyes will still be a triples machine in that park.

Over the next couple of seasons, the Giants will have several contracts off the books, including Barry Zito’s in two years (no way will he get the innings for his option to be picked up in 2014).

Los Angeles: This is a team in worse financial straits than the Mets. Small wonder Joe Torre left.

 

Aug 11

Today in Mets’ History: Carter hits 300th homer

On this day in 1988, Gary Carter hit his 300th career home run in a 9-6 victory at Chicago.

Carter finished that season with 11 homers and just 46 RBI, and was released after the 1989 season.

In five seasons with the Mets, Carter hit 89 homers with 349 RBI.

After leaving the Mets, Carter played single seasons for San Francisco, Los Angeles and retired as an Expo in 1992.

NOTE: Carter’s daughter, Kimmy Bloemers reports his brain tumors have improved, but the condition remains inoperable.

 

Jul 26

Today in Mets’ History: Early futility.

Those early days were more than just a comedy of errors or a train wreck, they were an exercise in baseball futility.

On this date in 1963, the Mets lost their 20th straight game on the road, a 7-3 loss at Houston, their expansion partner.

Less than 7,000 people saw the game at mosquito infested Colt Stadium, where the temperature no doubt approach triple digits.

Mercifully, the game was a tidy 2:18.

The Mets managed six hits off Houston starter Turk Farrell.  Bob Aspromonte set the tone early with a first inning grand slam off Tracy Stallard.

The Mets would lose two more on the road before winning at Los Angeles. The Mets fell to 32-70 with the loss, 30.5 games off the pace.

BOX SCORE

 

Jul 04

Mets begin key series tonight in LA

The Mets trying to get by with Jose Reyes down with a strained hamstring, which means everybody must pick up the slack, including Jason Bay, who is hitting .254 with 10 homers and 70 RBI in two seasons with the Mets.

With David Wright and Ike Davis on the disabled list, and Reyes a possibility to join them shortly, the Mets will need all they can get out of Bay.

General manager Sandy Alderson said the Mets would deal with caution regarding Reyes.

“We have to take it one day at a time,’’ Alderson said. “We’re not making any predictions at the moment. We’ll just see how he responds and the symptoms he demonstrates over the next few days. I’m sure he’ll want to play. I’m sure he’ll want to play in the All-Star Game. That’s something we have to look at.’’

Too often in the past the Mets acquiesced to Reyes’ demands to play, but the stakes are higher this time. The direction the Mets will take at the trade deadline is largely dependent on how well the team is playing and Reyes’ health over the next few weeks.

Beginning tonight in Los Angeles, the Mets open a West Coast trip against the Dodgers and Giants, then close out the month against Philadelphia, St. Louis, Florida and Cincinnati.

It is not a stretch to say the remainder of this month will be spent on the edge, that whether this team packs it in as has long been speculated or makes a run at salvaging a season, we’ll know it all in the next few weeks.

We’ll know whether the Mets will still feature Carlos Beltran, Francisco Rodriguez and perhaps Reyes, or another group of non-descript players.

Here’s tonight’s lineup in Los Angeles:

The Mets are trying to get by with Jose Reyes down with a strained hamstring, which means everybody must pick up the slack, including Jason Bay, who is hitting .254 with 10 homers and 70 RBI in two seasons with the Mets.

With David Wright and Ike Davis on the disabled list, and Reyes a possibility to join them shortly, the Mets will need all they can get out of Bay.

General manager Sandy Alderson said the Mets would deal with caution regarding Reyes.

“We have to take it one day at a time,’’ Alderson said. “We’re not making any predictions at the moment. We’ll just see how he responds and the symptoms he demonstrates over the next few days. I’m sure he’ll want to play. I’m sure he’ll want to play in the All-Star Game. That’s something we have to look at.’’

Too often in the past the Mets acquiesced to Reyes’ demands to play, but the stakes are higher this time. The direction the Mets will take at the trade deadline is largely dependent on how well the team is playing and Reyes’ health over the next few weeks.

Beginning tonight in Los Angeles, the Mets open a West Coast trip against the Dodgers and Giants, then close out the month against Philadelphia, St. Louis, Florida and Cincinnati.

It is not a stretch to say the remainder of this month will be spent on the edge, that whether this team packs it in as has long been speculated or makes a run at salvaging a season, we’ll know it all in the next few weeks.

We’ll know whether the Mets will still feature Carlos Beltran, Francisco Rodriguez and perhaps Reyes, or another group of non-descript players.

Here’s tonight’s order at Los Angeles:

Angel Pagan, CF

Justin Turner, 2B

Carlos Beltran, RF

Daniel Murphy, 1B

Jason Bay, LF

Lucas Duda, 1B

Ronnie Paulino, C

Ruben Tejada, SS

Chris Capuano, LP