Jun 15

Johan Santana Makes Appearance; Reminder Of Deal Lost

Johan Santana made an appearance, perhaps for the last time, to the New York Mets’ clubhouse Friday. Maybe it was to say good-bye to teammates or pick up a few things. Perhaps it was to get a Matt Harvey autograph. Maybe the Mets needed him to sign a few papers before he gets the last of the $31 million owed him.

No one can ever doubt Santana’s work ethic or determination on the mound, but when all the numbers are added, one can’t say the Mets got their $137.5-million’s worth. Or, should I say $143-million’s worth when the 2014 buyout is considered?

SANTANA: At one time there was a smile. (AP)

SANTANA: At one time there was a smile. (AP)

Yes, they did get the franchise’s only no-hitter last season, but a tainted one because it was the product of a blown call. But, that night also cost the Mets the rest of Santana’s career because Terry Collins wrongly kept him in to throw 134 pitches.

There were a few more good starts after, but Santana hit a wall and lost his last five decisions before he was shut down because of injury for the third time in his four seasons with the Mets. And, that  DOESN’T include 2011 and this year, in which he didn’t pitch at all because of a shoulder injury.

To be technical, you can also throw in 2014, when the Mets will pay him to go away and rehab on their dime while he attempts a comeback.

For all that money, Santana only had one season in which he made all his starts, and that was his first, in 2008, when he was 16-7 and worked 234.1 innings. It wasn’t a sign of things to come.

That was the year the Mets faded in the stretch to lose the division on the final day to the Philadelphia Phillies. The previous season, the Mets lost a seven-game lead with 17 to play because their pitching collapsed. They also lost on the final day in a loss always known as the Tom Glavine Not Devastated Game.

Santana was supposed to prevent a reoccurrence. He did not, but to be fair, Santana threw a masterpiece in Game 161 on an injured knee to give the Mets a chance in the season finale.

Santana’s effort was never in question as it was with Oliver Perez, nor did he fail to produce when healthy, as was the case with Jason BayStill, his contract falls in the grave disappointment if not bust category. What can be called into question was Santana’s judgment when he forced the issue in spring training out of pride by throwing unauthorized mound session in a snit in response to Sandy Alderson’s comments about him not being in shape.

Even at the time of the deal an argument can be made the Mets overpaid in terms of prospects given up and salary because they misjudged the market and bid against themselves.

At the time, the Yankees and Red Sox were in hot pursuit of Santana, but Minnesota kept jacking up the prospect price to the point where both opted out. The Mets, who weren’t on the Twins’ radar, suddenly were in the game, but as the only players.

The Mets surrendered prospects Deolis Guerra, Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber and Kevin Mulvey. Gomez had moments of production, but not stardom. If nothing else, he would be playing in today’s Mets outfield. As for Humber, he pitched a perfect game not tainted by an umpire’s call.

After the deal was agreed to, there was the matter of working out a contract and the Mets went high, six-years, on a pitcher with a previous shoulder injury and a mountain of innings. Even had they gone less in terms of years and money, Santana had to accept if he wanted out of Minnesota because he had nowhere else to go as the Twins wouldn’t have come close.

The Mets had to know it wouldn’t end well, but gambled Santana might give them an October before breaking down. It was a gamble they would lose.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jun 15

Mets’ Collins, Marcum Not Believable In Rotation Issue

It is difficult to believe either Terry Collins or Shaun Marcum regarding the New York Mets’ upcoming rotation decision to accommodate Zack Wheeler.

Whether he’s ready or not – and even he said he didn’t pitch his best at Triple-A Las Vegas – Wheeler is on his way to start the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves. The Mets already bought the plane ticket; he’s coming.

MARCUM: Hammered by Cubs. (AP)

MARCUM: Hammered by Cubs. (AP)

For now, Collins said the Mets will fly with a six-man rotation, but that’s probably once or twice through. Matt Harvey isn’t cool to the idea, so guess where this will go?

If based strictly on merit, the veteran Marcum, who fell to 0-8 Friday night against the Chicago Cubs, should be the odd-man out. But, he’s making $4 million this year, which amazingly, is the fifth-highest salary in the Mets’ payroll behind Johan Santana, David Wright, John Buck and Frank Francisco. And, this  does not include the deferred money owed Jason Bay, which could drop Marcum to sixth.

Collins, operating under the belief people are idiots, downplayed the salary angle.

“When it comes down to the time to make the decision, certainly I’m not sure salary is going to have anything to do with it,’’ Collins said Friday night. “I think we’re going to take the five guys that we need to make sure are the best five to go out there.’’

Of course, salary will have something to do with it as it always does with the Mets. And, it likely won’t be Collins’ call, either.

Salary is why they kept running Bay out there every day when it was clear he had nothing. Salary is why they hung onto Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo longer than needed. Salary is why they traded Carlos Beltran for Wheeler, and one can’t yet say the Mets won that deal. Salary might be why they resisted sending down Ike Davis to the minors, a decision that might have come too late.

Salary and cutting payroll has been the essence of everything the Mets have done in the Sandy Alderson era. You’d like to believe Collins in the decision will be based on merit, but Alderson’s track record indicates otherwise.

Marcum, who has had several good moments, notably his relief appearance in last week’s 20-inning loss to the Miami Marlins, has shown a propensity of working out of the bullpen, which makes it reasonable to figure he can do that job. However, Marcum’s dwindling trade value is as a starter and taking him out of that role could make that option difficult.

Marcum said, “I really haven’t thought about it,’’ which on second thought might be the truth because he knows he’ll get his money regardless.

ON DECK:  Johan Santana visits; a reminder of a lost deal.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jun 14

Mets, June 14, Lineup Against Cubs

The following is tonight’s power-laden line-up the New York Mets will field behind Shaun Marcum tonight at Citi Field:

Jordany Valdespin, 2B: While it is a good idea to find out what Valdespin can do, that was something better done in spring training. He’s also had several starts leading off, and I wonder why he wasn’t given an extended look there earlier, even at a different position.

Daniel Murphy, 1B: What will happen when Ike Davis returns from Las Vegas? Will Murphy go back to second and Valdespin to the bench? It will never run that smoothly, especially if Valdespin loses playing time. Perhaps this is done to showcase Valdespin or Murphy in a July trade.

David Wright, 3B: Third always has been the best spot for him because that spot is reserved for the team’s best hitter.

Lucas Duda, LF: Actually, Duda has played better in left than I expected. I don’t care if he takes ten pitches per at-bat. In the long run that is the best way he’ll develop.

Marlon Byrd, RF: This is a player the Mets should be showcasing for a trade because he has value.

John Buck, C: Buck as a spot here as long as he remains compatible with Matt Harvey and Travis d’Arnaud is injured.

Omar Quintanillia, SS: If he keeps hitting, Ruben Tejada might not have a job when he comes back.

Juan Lagares, CF: He hasn’t shown anything offensively. He should be getting steady at-bats in the minor leagues.

Shaun Marcum, RHP: Has pitched better than his record indicates. He keeps pitching well and a contender will call.

Jun 14

Lenny Dykstra To Be Released From Prison

Former New York Mets outfielder Lenny Dykstra will be released from a California prison this weekend, almost 15 months into a three-year term.

Dykstra, nicknamed “Nails,’’ because of his gritty style of play while with the Mets, achieved All-Star status after being dealt to the Phillies in one of the worst trades in team history.

DYKSTRA: After his homer in the 1986 NLCS.

DYKSTRA: After his homer in the 1986 NLCS.

Dykstra hit one of the most memorable home runs in franchise history against the Houston Astros in the 1986 NLCS, and also hit a key homer against Boston in the World Series that year.

Dykstra, 50, ran into financial crisis several years ago, and was charged with grand theft auto and filing a false financial report in October of 2011. After the charge, Dykstra went into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program.

Author Christopher Frankie, who wrote “Nailed: The Improbable Rise and Spectacular Fall of Lenny Dykstra,’’ told reporters he was surprised by the court’s decision.

“[He] blatantly disobeyed the court, and a lot of the stuff was very brazen,’’ Frankie said. “He was doing it in the full view of law enforcement. I hope for his sake, his family’s sake, and the public’s sake, that he doesn’t return to his criminal past.

“I think people in this country really love a comeback story, so he certainly has that opportunity. But, I’m not convinced that’s the path he’s going to take.’’

Dykstra has been noticeably absent in Mets’ functions since he retirement, and for obvious reasons hasn’t been around Citi Field. Mets fans have been open in their acceptance of Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, and it will interesting to see if they will be that open to Dykstra.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jun 14

David Wright Shows Graciousness In Embarrassing Moment

For those scoring at home, the website Cougarlife.com, has over 3.9 million members, which is probably close to double what the New York Mets will draw this year. And, a fraction of that would be enough to select David Wright to the All-Star Game this July at Citi Field.

So, despite the obvious reaction of “what were they thinking?’’ the potential numbers indicate it might not have been that horrible an idea. But, numbers aren’t the only, or most significant measure of what this is about.

WRIGHT: Worthy of applause.

WRIGHT: Worthy of applause.

Where it becomes horrible is the appearance of desperation, and that the Mets can’t draw enough on their own to put Wright into the All-Star Game.

My initial reaction, like most, was the partnership idea, and in this era of political correctness, once that door is opened what other sexually-oriented websites and business would demand equal representation?

While there is little doubt a “Sodom and Gomorrah Night’’ at Citi Field would probably bring more people than Foreigner will tonight, do the Mets really want to go there?

To their credit, the Mets – unlike your average politician – owned up to their intentions after they backed out of the potential partnership. Also, to his credit, Wright handled the matter with grace and composure, and admitted this drive to get him elected was embarrassing.

“It’s nice when the organization is trying so hard to do something for one of their players,’’ Wright told reporters after the Mets lost another game. “And I can’t thank them enough for that. At the same time, I’ve asked them to back it down a little bit, especially with the stuff in between innings.

“You appreciate what they’re trying to do, and they’re very good-hearted. At the same time, this is a team game. As much as I’d like to be here to represent this team in the All-Star Game, we can’t let this become an in-between-inning, one-player production. Especially with the way we’re playing as a team, I feel very uncomfortable being singled out for All-Star Game-type stuff.’’

That’s exactly the type of persona the Mets and Major League Baseball should be marketing. Class is a decreasing commodity today in sports, so when it’s there it should be appreciated. Wright is such a figure. So is San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan, who at the start of the second half last night, walked over to Miami’s Dwayne Wade to ask how he was feeling as the two collided earlier and Wade aggravated an injury.

As far as Cougarlife.com naming him baseball’s hottest cub, the question was going to get asked and Wright had two ways he could have gone with it. He either could have been a jerk or could have been gracious.

“Serious? Ummm, I guess it’s a nice honor,’’ Wright said. “Did you guys have to draw straws for who asked that question? I guess I’d like to thanks my parents for the genes.’’

It’s non-stop now with Twitter and the Internet. Times have changed, and not always for the better. This reminds me of a story about Babe Ruth, who stark naked chased a woman through a train car when that’s how teams traveled.

Reporters also traveled with the teams at that time. Upon seeing Ruth, one reporter turned to another and said, “I guess this is one more story we’re not going to write.’’

No chance today. The pressures are enormous and if you’ve seen it up close, you can understand why some players can’t take it.

When Wright first came up, a lot in the media wrote how they hoped he wouldn’t change. He has somewhat, but on the things that matter, the core person – at least the public image – hasn’t changed and that’s one of the best things he brings to the table.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos