Feb 08

The two Mets I am most curious about this season.

No doubt there are a myriad of questions and curiosities about the 2012 Mets, but two I am wondering about most are Lucas Duda and Mike Pelfrey.

DUDA: Can he be the real deal?

I’m skipping the obvious choices, David Wright, Johan Santana and Jason Bay. With Wright, either they’ll trade him or they won’t. With Santana, he’s either healthy or he’s not. And Bay? Based on his first two years with the Mets, I have no expectations.

Duda and Pelfrey are different to me because their performances can dictate a lot about the future.

Duda combines loads of power potential with limited defensive capabilities. He’ll be in right field, a position where power is a necessity. We can’t project Duda for 30 homers because he’s never done it. For that matter, he hasn’t hit more than 10, and that was last season in a short window.

That short window production is what has us salivating. There’s no doubting his strength, and the shorter fences should help, but there are other factors. How will he adjust to National League pitchers and how will they adjust to him? Will he produce over the long haul and with the pressures of starting?

Duda is still a babe in the woods, but that potential has me thinking that if he can handle right field, this could be a player with a bright future.

We’ve been saying “bright future” about Pelfrey for years. He seemingly had a breakthrough 2010, but regressed greatly last season. Well, which is it? Pelfrey is still young enough where he can have a good career. He’s also not commanding the big dollars.

However, he’s an enigma and what he does this season could determine whether the Mets cut ties with him or make a commitment. Pelfrey’s performance could also dictate the future of pitching coach Dan Warthen.

If Pelfrey pitches as he did in 2010 and several of the other Mets’ questions are answered in the positive, the Mets could be competitive and entertaining this summer. If not, the projected long summer will be upon us.

Feb 01

What would success be to the 2012 Mets?

On this, the 50th anniversary of the Mets, I am sure they’ll have a better record than their founding fathers, but not have much better odds of success.

The ultimate success is defined by winning the World Series, followed by reaching the playoffs, winning your division, then finishing over .500. Realistically, a lot of things have to break right for the Mets to have a winning season.

But, with all that seemingly out of their reach, what would define a successful season?

I’m narrowing it down to a handful of things:

1) Some resolution, either way, to the Mets’ financial struggles. There’s such a negative feeling permeating this franchise because of the unknown ramifications of the Ponzi scandal. Even a court decision will go through the appeals process, so it won’t happen this summer. But, a little movement one way or another could tell us what direction the franchise is heading. Even if the news is bad, that’s better than not knowing and speculating.

2) A healthy and productive David Wright is important because he’s the face of the franchise and has been a shell of his All-Star self. If the Mets are to rebuild, they’ll need plenty of young pieces and Wright is the only player capable of bringing in that kind of talent.

3) A strain on the Mets are the contracts of Johan Santana and Jason Bay. If they can be healthy and perform even remotely to their potential, perhaps Sandy Alderson can find a taker. He did so with Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez and their impossible contracts. Maybe he can do it again. Yes, I know we’re talking a long shot here.

4) The Mets have some young talent that offers hope of better days. Jon Niese, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Josh Thole and Daniel Murphy aren’t without ability. You can throw Bobby Parnell in with that group, too. Maybe these guys can show us a glimpse of something promising in the future.

5) The Mets desperately need a fast start against the brutal schedule in April and early May to avoid a double-digit deficit before the weather gets warm. If the Mets can play alert, aggressive baseball out of the gate they might draw some people to Citi Field and perhaps curb some of the flood of red ink.

If all of these things happen it won’t guarantee a winning season, much less the playoffs. But, should they happen it might ease the negativity swarming around this franchise and that would be a start.

 

 

Jan 30

Around the corner …. a brick wall.

Pitchers and catchers report to St. Lucie in three weeks and where is the sense of optimism that comes with the approaching baseball season?

SANTANA: Contract weighs down Mets.

In the past three years the Mets entered spring training without realistic hope save wishing they could muster a competitive season to keep their dwindling fan base interested and enthused.

This year included.

It is not healthy when the fans’ biggest hopes are for the owners to sell and not trade their marquee player. The core three of David Wright, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran is down to Wright, and nobody would be surprised if he got off to a fast start and the Mets dealt him in July. Believe me, the vultures are calling.

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Dec 30

Top Ten Mets’ Stories of 2011

Good afternoon all. Just got back from Ohio and visiting with my family over Christmas. There was time to reflect on the year, which, of course, includes the Mets’ third straight losing season.

The year was the first under the Sandy Alderson-Terry Collins regime, which was supposed to represent a change in the franchise’s culture and downward spiral.

It did not.

There were seemingly countless storylines that swirled around the Mets this summer, most underscored their dire frustration. The following are the top ten:

REYES: Mets' mess uglier than Marlins' uniforms.

1) THE MADOFF PONZI SCANDAL: Most everything the Mets did this season, and will likely do in the next few years has roots in the Wilpon’s financial mess caused by the Ponzi Scandal. The Mets have a mounting debt approaching $1 billion due in the next three years and which does not include what the courts might put them on the hook for in a Ponzi ruling. Standard & Poor’s downgraded the Mets’ financial status and there are no immediate signs of improvement.

2) JOSE REYES SIGNS WITH MIAMI: Reyes’ departure to the division rival Marlins personifies the Mets’ current financial plight. It was a no-brainer to let him go considering his salary demands and injury history, but not making an offer revealed how the Mets aren’t in position to compete. Most believed 2011 would be his last season with the Mets, and he departed in style with two trips to the disabled list and pulling himself out of the last game of the season to preserve his batting title.

3) METS RELEASE PEREZ AND CASTILLO: Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo represented the Omar Minaya Era in giving obscene contracts for little production. Their presence cast a pall over the 2010 Mets and the new regime finally cast them away. Sad getting rid of two malcontent underachievers represented one of the highlights of the season.

4) BELTRAN, RODRIGUEZ TRADED: The Mets overachieved much of the first half, but any hope of a competitive season ended when Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez were dealt to San Francisco and Milwaukee, respectively, in the official surrender of 2011. Few thought Alderson could unload their contracts, but doing so lightened the Mets’ financial burden – a little. Beltran and Rodriguez were to be the missing pieces to a championship, but instead personified the window slamming shut.

DAVIS: Another freak injury hits Mets.

5) IKE DAVIS INJURED: What looked to be a harmless ankle injury ended up a season-ender for Ike Davis and renewed criticism of the Mets’ medical staff. Reportedly, Davis will be ready for spring training, but we’ve heard that song before. Davis’ injury opened the door for Lucas Duda’s promotion to the major leagues, one of the season’s few bright spots.

6) DAVID WRIGHT’S FALL CONTINUES: Wright missed over two months with a back injury and his power numbers dropped to 14 homers and 61 RBI. Wright’s recent injury history and declining production, coupled with the Mets in a rebuilding mode, increases speculation he could be traded. But, those factors also mean what the Mets get in return isn’t what it would have been two years ago.

7) THE DAVID EINHORN MESS: The Mets financial problems appeared to ease at the tune of $200 million when David Einhorn was brought in as a minority owner, but that fell through. The Wilpons’ fallback plan is to sell $20-milion shares. So far, no takers.

8) JOHAN SANTANA A MEMORY: Despite the Mets’ projections he might be ready at any number of occasions, it never happened and his rehab included several setbacks. The Mets will go to spring training knowing only one thing about Santana – they’ll pay him $24 million next year.

9) BAY SIGNING A BUST: It has been two years and Bay has hit a combined 18 homers with 104 RBI. He did better than that in 2009 with Boston. There were dozens of reasons why the Mets shouldn’t have signed Bay two years and one day ago. I’m thinking there are close to 66 million now.

10) PELFREY REGRESSES: After winning 15 games in 2010, Mike Pelfrey won seven games last year and there are thoughts he might never become the pitcher expected of him. With Santana injured, Pelfrey went into the season the de facto ace but posted numbers not worthy of a No. 5 starter.

Dec 07

On trading David Wright.

I wrote it also, losing Jose Reyes could make it easier for the Mets to eventually trade David Wright if they go in full rebuilding mode. However, it is not imminent and regardless of what you read, it won’t be to the Yankees.

WRIGHT: He's not going anywhere.

Despite his power dropoff in two of the past three seasons, Wright is the only marketable player the Mets have remaining. Ike Davis and Lucas Duda are a promise. Nobody else generates more than a yawn.

Wright will not be dealt while the Mets are trying to sell season tickets and advertising for SNY and Citi Field.  And based on his production in two of the past three years, his value is at its lowest. If the Mets are bent on trading Wright, they’ll need to see him healthy and hitting for power. That’s what will get Sandy Alderson’s phone ringing. Dealing Wright now would be trading him when the market is low.

Just not a smart thing to do.

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