Mar 11

F-Mart among first roster cuts.

F-MART: Has the window closed?

The Mets made a round of roster cuts this morning, with outfielder Fernando Martinez and infielder Ruben Tejada among them. Also sent to the minor league camp were Josh Stinson, Tobi Stoner, Manny Alvarez, Armando Rodriguez, Zach Lutz, Jordanny Valdespin, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Kai Gronauer.

The Mets have been consistent with Tejada all along, saying they want him in Triple-A for the at-bats and to play shortstop. No real surprises.

The demotion of Martinez, once the franchise’s brightest position player prospect, makes me wonder if it will ever happen for him. That Lucas Duda is being given a chance to make the team and not Martinez tells you his stock has fallen.

Remember when the Mets had outfield prospects Martinez, Lastings Milledge and Carlos Gomez? Speed to burn. Milledge flamed out, Gomez was traded and the Mets hung onto Martinez because he had the highest ceiling.

No more.

When given the chance he hasn’t produced, but the biggest knock on Martinez has been his inability to stay healthy. Believe me, that goes on the scouting report as much has his ability to hit a curveball.

Yes, I understand the argument Martinez needs the minor league at-bats more than sitting on a major league bench, but that the Mets would sign reserves Scott Hairston and Willie Harris – whose upside has already been reached – rather than give Martinez a chance to earn a roster spot speaks of what they think of him. And, with Carlos Beltran down, that is even more magnified.

The Mets would not part with Martinez in any trade discussions in the past, but I can see that changing now. I can see them listening intently.

That is, if anybody else is still interested.

 

Mar 10

Let’s see Duda in right

Assuming Carlos Beltran isn’t available to the Mets by Opening Day, replacing him shouldn’t equal the dilemma CBS will have in replacing Charlie Sheen on “Two and a Half Men.”

DUDA: Let's see what he has.

Both of Beltran’s knees are aching and he’s down for the week. Maybe he’ll come back next week; maybe he won’t.

So, who will the Mets use to replace the aching outfielder with a huge $18.5 million contract?

Veteran bench players Scott Hairston and Willie Harris can be plugged in and won’t embarrass the ball club. But, will they carry it? History says no, because afterall, they are role players. Their job is to temporarily fill a hole.

I want to see what Lucas Duda can bring to the table. Duda was a September call-up who started slow but closed hot. While Hairston and Harris could be somewhere else next season, or who knows, maybe even dealt in July to a contender, Duda could have a future with this team.

Duda is strong – he had four homers last year – so there’s power potential. He didn’t sparkle defensively and can only get better. Duda is off to a good start this spring and homered yesterday. We know what Hairston and Harris can do; Duda is an unknown.

However, for a team not expected to do anything this year, what’s the harm in giving him an audition?

 

Mar 09

Oliver Perez era coming to an end

The Mets are playing the Oliver Perez saga down to the very end.

PEREZ: Down and just about out.

In holding to their word they’d give Perez a chance to make it as a starter, GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins made the trip Tuesday to watch Perez get whipped by Houston, giving up three runs in three innings in what would be his last start with the Mets.

Alderson confirmed that today, saying Perez’s slim chance of sticking with the team was now out of the bullpen.

Kudos to Collins for sticking to his word making the two-hour bus ride to Kissimmee to watch Perez when the easy thing to do was let pitching coach Dan Warthen scout the long-shot for him.  It will go a long way toward Collins gaining credibility with his new team.

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Mar 08

Beltran sidelined again.

BELTRAN: Not running any time soon.

The Mets say they aren’t worried, which considering the past two seasons is far from believable. Carlos Beltran will will be out at least was week with left knee tentinitis, presumably caused by compenstation for the pain in his chronic right knee.

Let’s see. He’ll be down a week. Then need at least four or five days to get ready to try it again, which puts us after March 20. Anybody else out there thinking he might start the season on the disabled list?

Beltran said this morning, “I’m going to continue to work and try to put myself in shape, but the field things, it’s going to be off [for] a little bit.”

The Mets have even eschewed minor league games where he could DH, but not run. Beltran said he’s been feeling discomfort since the start of spring training, which precipitated his move to right field.

There’s nothing you can do with injuries but look at them at the worst case scenario. There’s no indication Beltran will be a viable player anytime soon, and of course, this minimizes his trade value to next to nothing. The worse possible thing to happen to the Mets would be for Beltran to be sidelined and unable to play or be traded.

I hope I am wrong, but the odds aren’t looking very promising.

 

Mar 02

Impact of Wilpon’s financial problems already being felt.

F. WILPON: There's a Ponzi connection to the field.

Some have suggested the product on the field has not yet been impacted by the Ponzi scheme, but that is hardly close to the truth. In fact, much of what the Mets are doing with their team is directly resulted in the fallout from the Madoff situation.

There were rumblings of the Wilpons being in financial straits for over a year now, with a clear sign last July at the trade deadline when the Mets, within striking distance of the wild card, stood pat and did nothing to improve their club. It takes money to win and the Mets added no significant payroll at a time when they could have improved their team and made a change in the attitude at Citi Field.

A second clear sign – although we didn’t learn of this until recently – was receiving a $25 million loan from Major League Baseball at the end of last season. This is a team, despite a new stadium, that was beginning to swim in debt. If we had known it then, we could have been spared the off-season angst of them not doing anything in the winter.

Sign three, and very significant, was the hiring of general manager Sandy Alderson at MLB’s urging. Commissioner Bud Selig took a proactive approach in getting Alderson hired by the Wilpon’s, perhaps in large part, to be a caretaker for the franchise as it explores minority ownership investors and later a possible sale.

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