Jan 24

Back again …. on booing Reyes.

With my father’s passing and several health issues, it has been a slow start to 2012. Trying to get it going again. It is hard to believe spring training is only a few weeks away.

REYES: Gazing toward Miami?

There’s more than a few things on my mind these days beginning with a couple of notes, beginning with a few things I read on metsblog.com this morning.

I believe Matt Cerrone does a very good job at what he does and his numbers support it success. But, something on his blog about Jose Reyes bugged me this morning. There was a graphic asking whether you would boo Reyes, and overwhelmingly the response was no.

Such an outcry tells me the majority of the Mets’ fan base didn’t like Reyes leaving or how the team handled the whole thing. But, with the offseason slow and unproductive for the Mets, the graphic was ill-timed. Matt should run it when the Marlins come into town.

Another thing that bugged me a little was the BBWAA voting Reyes the Good Guy Award. There’s no disputing in one-on-ones with the media Reyes was always cordial and pleasant. I enjoyed him immensely.

But, a little perspective here.

Last summer, Reyes continually dodged questions about his pertaining free-agency. But, what bothered me most was pulling himself out of his last game as a Met to protect his batting title. That set so wrong with me and a lot of others. There’s no good-guy there.

Once Reyes went back into that dugout, he moved on from the Mets – and you. It’s about time you did the same.

Reyes was a good player here, but he’s gone. He’ll spend more years with the Marlins, and maybe other teams after that, then he did with the Mets. There were good years here, but also unproductive years sapped by injury.

Will his career be defined by his seasons with the Mets? I don’t know. But, I do know it is time to get over him.

Jan 05

Fish better, but don’t get carried away.

It is almost a given the Miami Marlins will finish ahead of the Mets this season, and that was even before the acquisition of Carlos Zambrano. If Zambrano is in shape, physically, mentally and emotionally, he’ll make the Marlins better. But, I’m not ready to put a Dream Team label on the Marlins. We’ve seen how well that works before.

However, the Marlins have made significant upgrades and you can guess the level of enthusiasm. Even so, there’s room for caution. Here’s why:

* A significant shoulder injury limited Josh Johnson to nine starts last season, and he’s clearly their most pronounced concern. Without Johnson, most everything else could be a moot point.

* Mark Buehrle is coming off his 11th straight season of at least 200 innings. That’s a lot of wear and tear, and one must assume his old team, the Chicago White Sox, know or suspect something.

* Zambrano has proven to be an out-of-control head case. He’s been the dangerous combination of an injured malcontent. Good for the Marlins that the Cubs are picking up nearly his entire salary. Zambrano is a gamble, but if things don’t pan out I wonder how he’ll respond, especially if Johnson is unavailable.

* Yeah, yeah, Jose Reyes can be an issue. Let’s not forget he went 0n the disabled list twice last season and all but shut down his running game during the second half. Reyes put up good numbers in his walk year, but we’ll see how motivated he is knowing he’s set for life. Reyes also has the burden of living living up to a $100-million contract. He’s always been sensitive, and at times moody and let’s his concentration wander. He’ll be under new found pressure. Let’s see how he handles it.

* One would have thought Hanley Ramirez wouldn’t have been an issue, that the Marlins would have ran the Reyes deal by him before writing the check. If Ramirez, who has always had some dog in him, is unhappy who can’t see him pulling a Santoni0 Holmes? It has to be a matter of time before he wants a new deal for himself.

* Ozzie Guillen is in a new home with high expectations, and moving with him is that big mouth of his. Guillen runs hot-and-cold on the likability meter. His act should play well in the beginning, but if the Marlins struggle, and he can’t connect with Ramirez for the greater good, it could get messy in that heat.

 

 

Jan 04

Mets face difficult start.

It won’t take long to figure out the 2012 Mets.

The team entering spring training without expectations – at least positive ones – face a difficult schedule despite 13 games at Citi Field and ten on the road. That includes everybody in their division, so we’ll have an idea of how they’ll stack up against the NL East.

I looked at their schedule this afternoon and if things play out as expected, they could be done before the weather gets warm. It isn’t hard to imagine interest in the baseball season being done in Flushing before the kids are done with school.

They open with a pair of three-game series at home against the Braves, who always give them a hard time, and the new-and-improved Washington Nationals (80-81 last year), who are talking with Prince Fielder.

Then they have consecutive three-game series at Philly and Atlanta before coming home for four games against San Francisco and three with Miami.

The Nationals and Marlins were sub-.500 last season, but both played the Mets tough and are expected to be better this year, perhaps to the point of wild-card contention.

They close out the month with three at Colorado and one in Houston, places where they have struggled.

Following two more at Houston, the Mets play Arizona, at Philadelphia and Miami, and home to Milwaukee and Cincinnati before May 18.

Think there’s a chance they could be ten games under or more by then? You bet.

It is not productive for a team to look too far ahead, but with all that’s going on with the Mets, it isn’t hard.

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 08

Departures of Pujols, Reyes shouldn’t scuttle Cardinals or Mets.

Pockets of fans in St. Louis and New York are understandably upset after Albert Pujols and Jose Reyes sold their legacies and moved them out of town as mercenaries.

Pujols thought $220 million over ten years, his developmental years in St. Louis along with his businesses and foundation weren’t enough, so he took $30 million more and shuffled off to Los Angeles.

Reyes could have had close to $100 million from the Mets – which included incentives – but in the end took roughly $6 million more to move to Miami.

In the end, reports from Pujols supporters and Reyes himself, were that they weren’t “loved” enough by their former teams so they went with the money.

I never expected Reyes to stay. I always believed he’d go to who flashed the most bling. However, I thought Pujols might have been one of the rare few to spend his entire career with one team.

Stan Musial did it and so did Mickey Mantle. So did Cal Ripken and Don Mattingly. They were thinking of a statute for Pujols in St. Louis. Not any more.

Who is to blame?

Actually, nobody.

As much as it would have been nice to think about Pujols staying home, in the end I was naive. It was something I wanted to believe in.

Pujols and Reyes; the Cardinals and Mets; the Angels and Marlins all made business decisions this week.

For Pujols and Reyes it was for the money. Pujols might also have the additional incentive of setting the career home run record with the aid of the designated hitter. Reyes sought the comfort of a guaranteed contract because of his house-of-card hamstrings.

The Angels are competing with the reeling Dodgers for the lion’s marketing share of Los Angeles and now have star power for their television network. As an American League team, the Angels can offer Pujols the DH during the back end of his contract. Pujols is worth all that money to them.

As for the Marlins, they significantly upgraded not only with Reyes, but Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell, and should have a good product in their new stadium. They might not be good enough to catch the Phillies, but with the extra wild card, they have a chance at October.

For the Cardinals and Mets, they have $220 million and $100 million, respectively, to build with. The Cardinals always have been a smart organization and based in the average NL Central, they should be able to rebound and retool quickly.

For the financially strapped Mets, they couldn’t afford to risk that kind of money on Reyes’ brittle hamstrings. The Mets have holes and ownership is drowning in red ink. The last thing the Mets needed was to be on the hook for another brutal contract.

So, nobody is to blame. And, the winners? It seems as if all the players got something they wanted. That is, of course, except fans of Pujols and Reyes, but who is surprised by that?