Mar 01

Anxious for Santana

I am on record as saying not to expect anything from Johan Santana, but I can’t help but wonder about his bullpen session today in which he faces live hitters.

SANTANA: Will it be a ``thumbs up'' day for him?

There’s always that competitive rush pitchers get when throwing to a hitter and Santana is smart enough not to let his adrenalin get the best of him. Afterall, it has been a long process so far and we don’t want any setbacks.

A good showing from Santana today – and it all comes down to how he’s feeling afterward – can give this camp a shot of life. With Santana on the mound the Mets believe they have a good chance to win the game, and that’s a feeling they don’t always have with others in the rotation.

We all know what not having Santana means: A vast hole in the rotation with no real No. 1; no stopper makes it possible for long losing streaks; and most importantly, the black cloud continues to hang over this organization.

 

Feb 27

Fred: “ … we intend to own the franchise for a very long time.”

Whether he was speaking out of defiance or knowledge, Mets owner Fred Wilpon vowed he wasn’t parting with his team. Period.

“Well, (Mets fans) shouldn’t be concerned about us owning the franchise, because we intend to own the franchise for a very long time,’’ Wilpon said this morning in Port St. Luice. “Whether they’re happy about that right now or not, I don’t know. Don’t forget, we cut a lot of payroll that wasn’t producing.’’

JEFF and FRED: Keeping the reins on the Mets.

That much is true, as gone are Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo. Also gone are Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes, but they were productive Mets last season.

Wilpon reiterated the refrain often sung by the Mets in recent seasons in hoping for bounce back seasons from the injured (Johan Santana, Ike Davis and David Wright) and the non-producing (Wright, Jason Bay and Mike Pelfrey). If all those things are realized and GM Sandy Alderson’s patchwork bullpen is productive, the Mets could overachieve.

Perhaps the key personnel issue facing the Mets this year is Wright’s future and Wilpon said he wants him to stay. He did not, however, say he’ll do everything in his power to make sure he stays.

Reyes, Wilpon said, was more a baseball decision than it was an economic choice, although the two are linked. Based on Reyes’ frequent injury history, Wilpon was leery of a long-term deal to Reyes. Wilpon said $100 million was on the table, but was linked to incentives such as games played and at-bats, which Reyes turned down. The rejection spoke more of Reyes than it did Wilpon.

Ideally, the Mets would like to build around a relatively young core and ride out the Santana and Bay contracts. If those two are healthy and productive they could help the Mets overachieve and draw a few more fans, and in the process, not make it necessary to deal Wright. Then Bay and Santana can be cut loose are their contracts expire to give the Mets more flexibility.

Feb 24

Don’t appearances count for something?

I admit, it’s not my money so the Mets can do whatever they want with theirs. Even so, to pay upwards of $3,000 an hour to charter a helicopter to watch the Knicks last night was in poor form.

This is a team in financial distress and they splurge like that? The statement was the funds didn’t come from the team, so Wilpon must have foot the bill. I don’t see Terry Collins or Sandy Alderson paying for it.

Either way, it just looks bad considering their position.

If you want to take a helicopter, fine. But, don’t land it on the field and be so blatant. They could have taken off from a different location. It just looks cheesy when your team is in such a financial mess and did little in the offseason to get better.

Like going to the unemployment office in a Mercedes.

By the way, the judge’s ruling about making a trial decision regarding the Ponzi scandal means little in the grand scheme of things. Whatever happens, there will be further filings and appeals. This won’t end in March with a full resolution. This will drag on and the Mets will have to get by on what they already have beyond this year.

Or get by on that plus Scott Kazmir. Their former prospect will throw for them today in camp. The Mets are one of six teams interested. If not him, then somebody else because there’s no guarantees on Johan Santana despite his slow progress.

Feb 22

Mets Have Something To Prove

It looks like Sandy Alderson has unwittingly coined the Mets’ slogan for 2012, “We All Have Something To Prove“. Sandy reiterated that phrase again during an appearance on MLB Network’s Clubhouse Confidential. “There is not a player on the club who doesn’t have something to prove, whether coming back from an injury, coming back from poor or substandard performance. ”

If you ask me, the players aren’t the only ones who have something to prove.

It was also interesting to hear him say, “we only had one player who had great season and well now he’s gone.” Yes, Sandy, we’re all well aware of that…

Who remembers “Fuzzy Math”?

“The effective payroll will be about the same as it was last year, in terms of the players we actually have on the field.”

That’s what Sandy tells people whenever the subject of a $90 million payroll comes up in a press conference or interview…

Alderson now reminds me of a person who is finding it hard to come to grips with the reality of the situation.

Well, we didn’t really shave $50 million from our payroll… Effectively you need to only count the dollar amounts of those who were on the field – than you deduct for time spent on the DL and prorate it, and when you finally perform all the calculations and remember to carry over the one, then you’ll see that we actually increased payroll in 2012.

Oh, brother…

So does that mean if Johan Santana doesn’t pitch, it effectively gives the Mets a $67 million dollar payroll for 2012?

Okay, got it… What about you? Did you get it too?

It think it’s time for “Alderson-speak” to become the new meme for the Mets blogosphere. Yes, it’s time…

Feb 22

On the power of positive thinking.

My expectations for the 2012 Mets are admittedly low, but that’s just me, and readers of this blog realize I don’t jump off the deep end when it comes to this team.

However, I will take if they continue the aggressive play they performed last year under Terry Collins. The Mets didn’t win, but there was a crispness to their play at times.

There was a marked difference in the improvement in hustle last year from the Jerry Manuel era. Collins also promised a greater concentration on fundamentals and at times we saw that last summer. The 2011 Mets did have their comeback moments. There were times when we felt good about them.

They did win 70 games despite missing Carlos Beltran for half a season; had Jose Reyes on the DL twice; lost Ike Davis for five months; had David Wright injured; watched Jason Bay give them nothing again; traded closer Francisco Rodriguez, who was having a good year, at the break; didn’t have Johan Santana all year; watched Mike Pelfrey regress and had Jon Niese injured. There was also a bullpen collapse and Daniel Murphy’s injury.

Come to think of it, considering all that, they were lucky to win 70 games. If you were told all that would happen coming out of spring training you would have jumped at 70 wins.

Reyes will be difficult to replace, but a healthy Wright and Davis could offset the loss of Beltran. Anything Bay and Santana gives them has to be considered a bonus. Pelfrey and Niese just have to be better, don’t they?

If the Mets play fundamentally sound and pitch better they could approach .500. The season is six months long, and one or two more wins a month gets us to the breakeven record. No, .500 doesn’t get you into the playoffs, but it is the first step in rebuilding.

I want this team, as Fred Wilpon once said, to play meaningful games in September. If that happens, Citi Field could be a fun place to visit this summer, and that’s what this franchise needs.