Sep 09

Hospital Flap: Just like the Mets.

BELTRAN: Skips hospital showing with Perez and Castillo.

The New York Mets had planned, as they usually do when they are in Washington, to visit the Walter Reed Army Medical Center to comfort  injured servicemen from Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a pet project of the Wilpons and the team knew well in advance what was to happen this week.

That night’s starting pitcher, Dillon Gee, was making his major league debut and was excused. Everybody else was expected, not required, to attend. It was one of those unspoken gestures of team unity.

The firestorm is in that Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, and Luis Castillo, three players who have clashed with Mets’ management this year and who carry heavy, yet unproductive contracts, opted not to attend without prior explanation.

Beltran said he had a meeting with his foundation to build a baseball academy in Puerto Rico; Castillo said he was uncomfortable at seeing the injuries; Perez offered no explanation.

Maybe Beltran could have rescheduled; maybe he could not have. But, it was his foundation, he knew of the conflict in advance and said nothing. He could have rescheduled. That’s pretty lame. Beltran was aware of this visit to the hospital, and although he was supposedly doing charity work, it’s still a weak effort on his part in communicating. Had he taken a more proactive approach, he wouldn’t be lumped in with Perez and Castillo.

Still, it can’t be forgotten how the Mets and Beltran clashed over surgery this spring, and if surgery had been done last summer how he might have recovered for this season. Instead, Beltran is owed $18.5 million for the final year of his contract, which the Mets would gladly unload.

Beltran’s unexcused absence, regardless of the subsequent explanation, brings these other issues to light and puts him in an uncomfortable position. Beltran isn’t stupid, he knows how the media operates and what would be made of this. Beltran is too smart to do something like this unless he was trying to make a statement.

Meanwhile, Castillo’s comment that this would make him queasy is an insult to those who are injured. It is a high insensitive comment. It reminds me, that he didn’t seem to have this reaction when he visited in the past.

You can insert your jokes about Castillo making you queasy here.

Still, the thing that sticks out with Castillo has been his disappointing, unproductive and tumultuous season and the $6 million remaining on next year’s contract. He’s not playing and is angry at the Mets. Was this the right way to express that anger?

Then, there is Perez, who was smart enough not to offer a lame excuse or lie. He just refused comment, which automatically makes anybody speculate what his agenda is. Perez is bitter at how he has been treated, although he brought on a lot of it himself. Perez is owed $12 million this year and next year and has refused all requests to do things that would make him better.

There’s no doubting the Mets want somebody, anybody, to take these contracts off their hands, and it’s no secret these guys want out. It’s also no secret the Wilpons hate eating these contracts.

All what the hospital flap has done is make me wonder whether the boycotts were orchestrated as a way of forcing the team to say “enough is enough,” and cut them loose with their 2011 contracts owed them. I’m thinking it is their way to force the issue on a release.

As far as conspiracy agendas go, it’s a good one.

What also makes me scratch my head on this is Jerry Manuel’s weak response, saying they are adults and can act they way they want. That’s the way Jerry for spitting on the concepts of team and accountability and responsibility.

Sep 01

Tonight’s lineup at Braves

Interesting lineup tonight in Atlanta with both Jose Reyes and Angel Pagan not playing because of injuries.

Tonight will be Lucas Duda’s debut as the Mets are going younger. Duda’s reputation is that he can punish the ball, and power is something this team desperately needs.

Also, Josh Thole, who has good bat control will bat second. I don’t envision this being a permanent spot in the batting order for him, but the more information the better, especially in games when Pagan might hit third.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Luis Castillo, 2B

Josh Thole, C

David Wright, 3B

Chris Carter, RF

Carlos Beltran, CF

Ike Davis, 1B

Lucas Duda, LF

Ruben Tejada, SS

Mike Pelfrey, RP

Aug 25

Tonight’s lineup vs. Marlins

I would have thought Jerry Manuel would have rewarded Luis Castillo for last night, but it’s not happening.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Jose Reyes, SS

Angel Pagan, LF

Carlos Beltran, CF

David Wright, 3B

Ike Davis, 1B

Jeff Francoeur, RF

Josh Thole, C

Ruben Tejada, 2B

Pat Misch, LP

Aug 25

When does a gesture become more than a gesture?

It’s a noble gesture, but one that will have little sting or impact.

Tonight, fans are to meet for the “Citi Field Sit Out,’’ in which the organizers got their message across on the Internet to meet at the ballpark to express their displeasure at the Mets organization by boycotting the game.

The gesture is symbolic and won’t create change simply because management has shown no inclination it wants to change. Management will laugh off the boycott because it already has their money.

As the Mets become more irrelevant heading into September, it should be realized there is little to be done to energize an alienated fan base for the remainder of the season. There is only one gesture symbolic enough for the fans to appreciate there could be a real change and it’s not the firing of Jerry Manuel or Omar Minaya, which could be soon enough. The only gesture the Wilpons can make to the fans that will be symbolic enough to bring about a genuine hope for change would be cutting Oliver Perez.

It will say things will be different.

Manuel and Minaya could be gone, but if the same group of underachieving players is around, what good will it do?

And, all indications are things will be the same because without spending a dime on new players to get better, the Mets have $130 million committed to salaries for next year, with roughly $50 million earmarked for Perez, Luis Castillo – the poster boys for the Minaya regime – Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez.

The Mets are notorious to not wanting to throw money away, which is why they’re still paying Perez and going with a 24-man roster. The message sent to the clubhouse in keeping Perez at a time when the season was still salvageable was that of surrender.

With a trade almost impossible, next year will likely be as frustrating as this season. Any enthusiasm the team can muster for the 2011 season will be tempered by Perez’s presence, as it will signify nothing has changed for the better no matter how they dress up a new manager or youth movement.

Perez leaving might create a large enough buzz among those thinking of going to Citi Field in September, and even more importantly those on the fence about renewing season tickets, to believe there is sincerity in wanting to change.

Perez is going to get $12 million from the Mets next year either way, so it might as well be in the form of a public relations gesture.

Because without real change, the season ticket base will continue to erode, spending will be further cut, and there will be more symbolic boycotts _ and losing.

There will be more of the same.

Aug 19

Mets Chat Room; trying to win on the road.

The Mets will try to win their first road series tonight since a three-game sweep of Cleveland in mid-June. They are 10-20 on the road since then, a stat that pretty much says it all about their slide from contention.

Game #121 at Astros

They’ve only won two road series this season, both in interleague play.

Here’s another one: they are hitting a major-league worst .214 since the All-Star break. For good measure, they haven’t scored more than three runs in six straight games.

The frustrating thing is their weakness going into the season – their starting pitching – has been lights out lately. Definitely good enough to contend if they had any offense.

Tonight it will be Pat Misch going for the Mets.

The Mets activated Rod Barajas this afternoon and he’ll be in the lineup tonight. Jerry Manuel said the Mets are still in the race and Barajas is likely to get more playing time than Josh Thole.

The catching situation typifies the dysfunctional nature of the Mets. They are carrying three catchers, which makes no sense in the National League. And, making it worse is they continue to play shorthanded because Oliver Perez is useless.

Here’s tonight’s lineup at Houston:

Jose Reyes, SS

Luis Castillo, 2B

Angel Pagan, CF

David Wright, 3B

Ike Davis, 1B

Jeff Francoeur, RF

Chris Carter, LF

Rod Barajas, C

Pat Misch, LP