Apr 24

How Will You Remember Jose Reyes?

We all glanced at the schedule when it came out to see when Jose Reyes would return to New York with the Marlins. David Wright says he misses his friend, but remembers the dynamic Reyes from a different perspective than we do.

REYES: Sitting alone after leaving his last Mets game (AP).

I’ll always remember Reyes as a dynamic player with an electric smile, but also prone to moodiness, injuries and taking plays off. Such as not covering second base in a late-season game against Washington which led to a big inning and another loss during the Mets’ historic 2007 collapse.

Reyes returns tonight and I wonder what the reaction will be. I doubt it will be as warm as the one Shea Stadium gave Mike Piazza when he returned as a San Diego Padre in 2006. There will be cheers, but I can’t see there being overwhelming affection.

While Wright says he wants to remain and retire with the Mets, Reyes never said anything like that last summer. I always got the feeling Reyes already had one foot out the door. Of course, the Mets never did, or said, anything to indicate they wanted to keep him.

Maybe that’s the feeling Reyes had when he bunted for a base hit and took himself out of the game to preserve his batting title in the season finale. That’s his last moment with the Mets, and not a classy way to say goodbye. It reminded me how LeBron James left the court in his last game with the Cavaliers. Both looked like they couldn’t get out of town fast enough.

I don’t like that it is, but taking himself out to preserve his title will be my enduring image of Reyes as a Met. That, and hardly running in the second half. Clearly, the injury prone Reyes wanted to protect his fragile hamstrings and not damage his stock in the free-agent market. That was selfish and disrespectful to his teammates and fans. Your remembrances might be different.

Anybody who understood what was going on with the Mets last year knew Reyes was gone. The team was in financial distress – still is – and wasn’t about to give Reyes a $100-plus million contract. With his recent injury history to his legs and declining base stealing totals, the Mets couldn’t afford to go six or seven years with him. As a rebuilding team, they couldn’t risk sinking that much money or years into a player who already had shown signs of breaking down.

That wouldn’t  be good business.

The Mets always treated Reyes well and gave him a long-term deal early in his career (2006) when they weren’t obligated. They could have played the system and lowballed him. Reyes grew up poor, was a new father, and insecure about his money. The Mets helped him; it was an investment in the future.

Years later, Reyes had no intention of leaving money on the table. He knew the Mets wouldn’t be the highest bidder. He was probably checking the real estate listings in Miami last August.

“It’s sad what has happened there.” Reyes said. “I loved New York. I loved playing for the Mets and I loved the fans, but there was no way it was going to work our for me to stay.”

Well, there was. He never told the Mets what it would have taken to keep him and had no intention of giving a home team discount.

It was a business decision – by both parties.

Reyes is a sensitive guy. Always has been. When he said he couldn’t wait to come back, you can take that a number of ways. And, you wouldn’t be wrong to think it is to stick it to the Mets.

 

Apr 09

Can Pelfrey Maintain Roll For Mets?

One of baseball’s most popular cliches is pitching is contagious, both good and bad. Tonight against Washington, Mike Pelfrey, who struggled during spring training  will attempt to follow up the Mets’ strong showing from its rotation in his first appearance of the season.

PELFREY: What's he thinking?

The Mets have been here before with Pelfrey, and your guess is as good as anybody as to how he’ll come of the game. Eventually, however, Pelfrey must confront his demeans and pitch like he’s supposed to.

For the second straight season I’ve listed Pelfrey as the one key Met, who if he turned it around could take the next step to stardom. We’ve waited for several years for Pelfrey to turn it around. It’s time for him.

 

 

 

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 19

On honoring Gary.

It is very sad to hear the discouraging medical reports about Gary Carter. After reading doctors are evaluating their next course of treatment I know from my father this isn’t good news. All you can do now is pray and hope he’s not in too much discomfort.

CARTER: In a happier time.

Not surprisingly, Carter’s illness raised the question of whether his No. 8 should be retired.

There is little question Carter was an integral part of the Mets’ 1986 World Series winning team, but in truth he played only four full seasons with the team, and 50 games into a fifth. Retiring a player’s uniform number should be based on long term contributions to the team and not as a sympathy gesture because of his illness.

If the Mets were to do it, they should have done it years ago. Doing it now would be cheesy and an almost empty gesture. If the Mets do it now, entering the 50th anniversary of their existence, it wouldn’t mean anything unless he went in with company, meaning Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, the only others from that team worthy of that honor. In looking at Mets history, also worthy – and overlooked – is Jerry Koosman.

I was glad to see Carter inducted into the Hall of Fame, an honor he truly deserved. At the time Carter said he was torn between going in as a Met or Montreal Expo. The Hall of Fame rules state a player would go in wearing the cap of the team where he carved his niche, and with Carter, that was Montreal, regardless of the ring he earned with the Mets.

And, that ring, as good as it was, isn’t enough to putting No. 8 on the outfield wall.

 

 

Jan 02

The Dirty Dozen: Twelve questions for 2012.

We are seven weeks from the start of spring training, and that time will fly. The NFL playoffs start this weekend, and when they conclude pitchers and catchers aren’t far behind.

The Mets will face a myriad of questions and issues this spring, with the following dozen the most prevalent:

1) QUESTION: To what degree will the Wilpon’s financial problems impact the Mets?

SPECULATION: To think fallout from the Ponzi scandal won’t influence things is naïve. Jose Reyes is gone because the Mets didn’t have the resources to compete. GM Sandy Alderson anticipates a payroll of close to $100 million, which would be $40 million less than in 2011. Maybe the Mets should consider a bake sale outside Citi Field this summer.

2) QUESTION: Will the roster significantly change between now and spring training?

SPECULATION: I doubt it. There’s been no indication of them pursuing any name talent, and who expects that to change? Any additions the Mets do will be strictly tweaking, which doesn’t help when there are positions needing an overhaul.

3) QUESTION: What will we get from Johan Santana?

SPECULATION: I’m not counting on it. Santana’s shoulder injury is similar to that which effectively ended Mark Prior’s career. Santana  has already had several setbacks and regardless of Alderson’s spin, nobody can say definitively when Santana can, or if, he can pitch again.

4) QUESTION: How long will David Wright remain a Met?

SPECULATION: I can’t see him being traded prior to spring training, and believe he’ll be here for the entire season because there’s an option for 2013, which means they don’t have to do anything this year. The Mets want to be sure of Wright’s health and his production (with the fences brought in) before doing anything. If Wright is sound and hitting, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s dealt. At this point, expect anything to happen.

5) QUESTION: Which Mike Pelfrey will we see?

SPECULATION: Your guess is as good as mine. After a seemingly breakthrough 2010 season, Pelfrey regressed dramatically last year. I don’t have that much more confidence in Pelfrey than I had in Oliver Perez, which pretty much says it all. The Mets must do some serious soul searching on all levels concerning Pelfrey, including whether pitching coach Dan Warthen is the answer to if they should cut ties with him. Clearly, he has not lived up to expectations.

6) QUESTION: What is the configuration of the bullpen?

SPECULATION: The depth chart on the Mets’ official web site lists 10 relievers, which is about right. The Mets have long hoped Bobby Parnell would seize the closer role, but that hasn’t come close to happening. Former Blue Jays Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco are expected to compete for the closer role, but one can’t forget why Toronto didn’t want to keep them in the first place.

7) QUESTION: Is Ruben Tejada the answer as Jose Reyes’ replacement?

SPECULATON: Absolutely not. Trying to fill the hole left by Reyes’ departure probably puts as much pressure on Tejada as any other Met. Reyes is a unique player not easily replaced. The Mets probably won’t see a fall off defensively, but Reyes has a dynamic offensive presence. Losing Reyes will gnaw at the Mets all summer and there’s nothing Tejada will be able to do.

8) QUESTION: Can Daniel Murphy make it at second base?

SPECULATION: Murphy was having an outstanding season at the plate before he injured his knee covering the bag. There were times it appeared Murphy was making defensive strides, but he had enough head-scratching moments, also. Murphy didn’t take to the outfield, his natural position is third, but that won’t happen because of Wright and he played well at first, but Ike Davis precludes that from occurring.

9) QUESTION: How healthy is Ike Davis?

SPECULATION: A freak ankle injury cost the Mets Davis for most of the season and any off-season prognosis is simply a guess. If Davis can’t play for some reason, Lucas Duda will play first which will create a hole in right field. Davis has loads of potential and doesn’t cost much, which is the kind of player the Mets need.

10) QUESTION: What’s the make up of the rotation?

SPECULATION: There were stretches last season when the rotation pitched well, but not enough of them and there are significant issues with every arm. Santana and Jon Niese are coming off injuries; Pelfrey is an enigma; RA Dickey was 8-13 last year and 41-50 in his career; and Dillon Gee has only 32 lifetime starts.

11) QUESTION: Will it ever happen for Jason Bay with the Mets?

SPECULATION: This is an annual question, and there’s nothing to suggest he’ll ever become the player the Mets have hoped. So far, this looks like $66 million flushed down the toilet.

12) QUESTION: Will moving in the fences matter?

SPECULATION: No. The theory is to add power, but the Mets actually showed they could score last year. Then again, they had Reyes and Carlos Beltran. Perhaps the new dimensions will help Wright and Bay, and maybe provide them a jolt of confidence. Could happen. Then again, bet on the opposition hitting more homers, too. Count on that.