May 11

Willie Mays became a Met on this date.

He was supposed to be a Giant forever, but on this day in 1972, San Francisco traded Willie Mays to the Mets for future trivia question answer, pitcher Charlie Williams, and $50,000.

MAYS: Playing stickball is how some will always remember him.

The trade was full circle for Mays, who returned to the city where he began his Hall of Fame 21 years before.

Mays showed few glimpses of greatness with the Mets. They were scarce and he looked old in the 1973 World Series. Still, he was still Willie Mays and he carried an aura about him. He was an electric player, in the field, on the bases and at-bat. And, even in those last games there was always the hope he’d provide one more memory.

Mays did not have the longevity in New York as Mickey Mantle, Duke Snider or Joe DiMaggio, but will always be linked to the city, and as they talk of his catch off Vic Wertz in the 1954 World Series in the Polo Grounds against Cleveland, they also speak of him playing stickball with kids in the streets.

Mays finished with 660 home runs, but missed nearly two years at the beginning of his career to serve in the military. Had he played those seasons, there’s no telling how close he would have come to Babe Ruth. The numbers were staggering regardless as he played in that wind tunnel known as Candlestick Park. (For the record, Mays hit .298 with 39 homers and 106 RBI lifetime against the Mets).

Much to my regret, I never saw Mays play in person. I saw Mantle, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson and Roberto Clemente from his era, but never Mays. Television never did him justice. I do know, however, had I had that opportunity, I wouldn’t have taken my eyes off him the entire game.

He was that special a player. I hope you’ll share your special memories of Mays with me.


Oct 19

Why isn’t Fred talking with Alderson again?

I’ve been hearing there are no plans for Fred Wilpon and/or Saul Katz to speak with Sandy Alderson during his second interview and that has me wondering.

Why not? Isn’t there anything else they can ask of Alderson? Maybe Alderson has some questions of his own. Either way, I would’ve hoped Fred Wilpon, who said, “the buck stops with me,” would’ve wanted to get more involved in the interview process.

I don’t know what questions Fred and Katz asked the first time, if any, but I keep hearing the candidates met with Jeff Wilpon and John Ricco. I haven’t heard about Fred’s input in the interview process, but I would like to know what it is and what questions he might have asked.

Sep 17

Encouraged by Pelfrey

PELFREY: On the cusp of stardom

The qualifier, of course, is it was against the Pirates, but it was good to see Mike Pelfrey throw a good game last night. His July swoon was alarming, but he seems to have corrected his mechanical and concentration problems that slammed the brakes on a potentially great season.

It is premature to say he’s completely there as a starter, but he could win 16, 17 games this year which is a watershed mark for a pitcher. And, if he even went .500 during his slide he could be looking at a 20-win season.

Pelfrey worked quickly and efficiently last night. He mixed his pitches well and worked both sides of the plate. The movement on his pitches was excellent, just the way it was at the beginning of the season.

I said going into the season Pelfrey might be the key Met, and it should be that way again next season. This guy is on the cusp of being right there and there will be more pressure than ever in 2011 because we don’t know what, if anything, the Mets will get from Johan Santana.

Sep 02

Manuel’s status ….

MANUEL: Clock ticking toward the inevitable.

Jerry Manuel told The New York Post the other day he’d love to know his job status for next season. There was a chance of his return, maybe even had the Mets not made the playoffs, if they continued to play as they did in June when they reached a high-water mark of 11 games over .500. Had they made a real run an argument could be made for him.

But, the collapse in July, followed by a month of .500 ball – give or take a game – has done him in. August was especially brutal because the Mets played with disinterest, without passion, without spark. There were extenuating circumstances – there always is – but the general apathy the team has been in the past month greatly reflects on the manager.

He has lost his team.

Several things within Manuel’s control have done him in, headed by his handling of the bullpen. He burns out relievers and isn’t always clear in dealing with the players on their job descriptions. Communication is not his strong point, as evidenced when he said Ike Davis had been spoken to regarding his emotional displays at the plate. When asked about this, Davis had no clue.

David Wright did not know when he’d get a day off. Manuel did not discuss with Jeff Francoeur his status following Carlos Beltran’s return.

Manuel threw John Maine under the bus when he said maybe the best day to pitch him would be on off days. He insisted on three catchers in the National League game which is absurd. Manuel’s handling of Jose Reyes’ oblique strain prior to All-Star break was foolish. He insisted on Jenrry Mejia in the bullpen to start the season when it clearly was not in the best long-term interests of the club.

The list goes on and on.

That there is not one Met saying for publication that the fault is on the players and not Manuel is telling. Nobody is in his corner. More than a few Mets stood up for Willie Randolph, while at the time Manuel was telling the brass he’d be interested in the job.

Add it all up, and the Mets are 190-198 under Manuel in his two-and-a-half  years. For the fourth straight year the Mets will not make the playoffs, for the second straight year September will be about showcasing players for the following season.

This time, the Mets will be showcasing players Manuel will never get to manage.

Aug 11

Say good bye to Francoeur

One of the waiver deals I can see the Met pulling off this month is unloading Jeff Francoeur. A team needed outfield depth and a right-handed bat could use Francoeur down the stretch.

Since the odds of him being tendered a contract for next year are small, the Mets should be thinking about selling whenever possible, and that includes Francoeur.