Nov 03

The market is open.

The free-agent market is open for business and the Mets’ exclusive window for Jose Reyes has slammed shut without an overture from GM Sandy Alderson, which isn’t good business.

Alderson did not meet with Reyes, which is surprising. Why not take the guy and his wife out to dinner and tell him they would like to keep him. If this is a negotiating ploy, I don’t see it.

Reyes’ camp reportedly is not interested in a home team discount, so the interpretation is this will be a cool parting.

The Mets’ have their reservations on Reyes’ health, which is obvious, and do not want to set the market for their shortstop. I maintain they want to see how much the market will shrink to see if Reyes will come back to them as Johan Santana did several years ago.

The Red Sox, Yankees and Cubs won’t be players, leaving San Francisco, the Angels, Philadelphia if it doesn’t sign Jimmy Rollins, and NL East Rivals Washington and Miami.

If I were Alderson, I’d be more concerned about Miami and the Nationals than I would Philadelphia. With or without Rollins, and even without Ryan Howard at the start of the season, the Phillies are better than the Mets. You can throw a blanket over the Mets, Miami and Washington.

One must ascertain from their stance on Reyes that Alderson doesn’t consider the Mets to be as close to contention as their flirtation with .500 would indicate. If he truly believed the Mets were close, even for a wild-card, it would seem they would be more aggressive in retaining Reyes.

According to a variety of sources, the following is the list of the free-agents on the market (ages in parenthesis):

Catchers

Rod Barajas (36) – Type B
Josh Bard (34)
Henry Blanco (40)
Ramon Castro (36)
Ryan Doumit (31) – Type B
Jake Fox (29)
Ramon Hernandez (36) – Type A
Rob Johnson (28)
Jason Kendall (38)
Gerald Laird (32)
Jose Molina (36) – Type B
Dioner Navarro (28)
Ivan Rodriguez (40)
Brian Schneider (35)
Kelly Shoppach (32)
Chris Snyder (31) – Type B
J.R. Towles (28)
Matt Treanor (36)
Jason Varitek (40) – Type B

First basemen
Russell Branyan (36)
Jorge Cantu (30)
Michael Cuddyer (33) – Type A
Prince Fielder (28) – Type A
Ross Gload (36)
Brad Hawpe (33)
Casey Kotchman (29)
Mark Kotsay (36)
Derrek Lee (36) – Type B
Xavier Nady (33)
Lyle Overbay (35)
Carlos Pena (34) – Type B
Albert Pujols (32) – Type A

Second basemen
Clint Barmes (33) – Type B
Willie Bloomquist (34)
Orlando Cabrera (37)
Jamey Carroll (37)
Alex Cora (36)
Craig Counsell (41)
Mark Ellis (35) – Type B
Jerry Hairston Jr. (36)
Bill Hall (32)
Aaron Hill (30) – Type B
Kelly Johnson (30) – Type A
Adam Kennedy (36)
Felipe Lopez (32)
Jose Lopez (28)
Aaron Miles (35)
Nick Punto (34)
Drew Sutton (29)

Shortstops
Clint Barmes (33) – Type B
Yuniesky Betancourt (30) – Type B
Orlando Cabrera (37)
Jamey Carroll (37)
Ronny Cedeno (29)
Craig Counsell (41)
Rafael Furcal (34) – Type B
Alex Gonzalez (34) – Type B
Jerry Hairston Jr. (36)
Cesar Izturis (32)
Nick Punto (34)
Edgar Renteria (35)
Jose Reyes (29) – Type A
Luis Rodriguez (32)
Jimmy Rollins (33) – Type A
Ramon Santiago (32)
Jack Wilson (34)

Third basemen
Wilson Betemit (30) – Type B
Casey Blake (38)
Jorge Cantu (30)
Eric Chavez (34)
Craig Counsell (41)
Mark DeRosa (37)
Greg Dobbs (33)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (36)
Kevin Kouzmanoff (30)
Andy LaRoche (28)
Felipe Lopez (32)
Jose Lopez (28)
Nick Punto (34)
Aramis Ramirez (34) – Type B
Omar Vizquel (45)

Left fielders
Travis Buck (28)
Pat Burrell (35) – Type B
Johnny Damon (37)
Mark DeRosa (37)
Jake Fox (29)
Jay Gibbons (35)
Jonny Gomes (31)
Carlos Guillen (36)
Scott Hairston (32)
Bill Hall (32)
Willie Harris (34)
Raul Ibanez (40) – Type B
Conor Jackson (30)
Reed Johnson (35)
Fred Lewis (31)
Ryan Ludwick (33) – Type B
Jason Michaels (36)
Laynce Nix (31)
Wily Mo Pena (30)
Felix Pie (27)
Juan Pierre (34) – Type B
Marcus Thames (35)
Josh Willingham (33) – Type A

Center fielders
Rick Ankiel (32)
Willie Bloomquist (34)
Mike Cameron (39)
Endy Chavez (34)
Coco Crisp (32)
David DeJesus (32) – Type B
Scott Hairston (32)
Andruw Jones (35)
Nate McLouth (30)
Corey Patterson (32)
Cody Ross (31) – Type B
Grady Sizemore (29)
Dewayne Wise (34)

Right fielders
Carlos Beltran (35) – Type A, cannot be offered arbitration
Willie Bloomquist (34)
Milton Bradley (34)
Michael Cuddyer (33) – Type A
David DeJesus (32) – Type B
J.D. Drew (36)
Kosuke Fukudome (35)
Willie Harris (34)
Brad Hawpe (33)
Jason Kubel (29) – Type B
Ryan Ludwick (33) – Type B
Xavier Nady (33)
Magglio Ordonez (38) – Type B
Cody Ross (31) – Type B
Josh Willingham (33) – Type A

Designated hitters
Milton Bradley (34)
Johnny Damon (37)
Vladimir Guerrero (37) – Type B
Carlos Guillen (36)
David Ortiz (36) – Type A
Jason Kubel (29) – Type B
Hideki Matsui (38)
Wily Mo Pena (30)
Jorge Posada (40)
Jim Thome (41)

Starting pitchers
Erik Bedard (33)
Mark Buehrle (33) – Type B
Chris Capuano (33)
Bruce Chen (35) – Type B
Bartolo Colon (39)
Aaron Cook (33)
Kyle Davies (28)
Doug Davis (36)
Zach Duke (29)
Jeff Francis (30)
Armando Galarraga (30)
Freddy Garcia (36) – Type B
Jon Garland (32)
Aaron Harang (34) – Type B
Rich Harden (30)
Livan Hernandez (37)
Hisashi Iwakuma (31)
Edwin Jackson (28) – Type B
Hiroki Kuroda (37) – Type B
Rodrigo Lopez (36)
Paul Maholm (30)
Jason Marquis (33)
Kevin Millwood (37)
Sergio Mitre (31)
Roy Oswalt (34) – Type A
Brad Penny (34)
Joel Pineiro (33)
Mitch Talbot (28)
Javier Vazquez (35)
Tsuyoshi Wada (31)
Tim Wakefield (45)
Chien-Ming Wang (32)
Brandon Webb (33)
Dontrelle Willis (30)
C.J. Wilson (31) – Type A
Chris Young (33)

Closers
Heath Bell (34) – Type A
Jonathan Broxton (28)
Matt Capps (28) – Type A
Francisco Cordero (37) – Type A
Frank Francisco (32) – Type B
Ryan Madson (31) – Type A
Joe Nathan (37)
Jonathan Papelbon (31) – Type A
Jon Rauch (33) – Type B
Francisco Rodriguez (30) – Type A

Right-handed relievers
David Aardsma (29)
Jeremy Accardo (30)
Luis Ayala (34)
Danys Baez (34)
Miguel Batista (41)
Shawn Camp (36) – Type B
Todd Coffey (31)
Juan Cruz (31)
Octavio Dotel (38) – Type A
Chad Durbin (34)
Jeff Fulchino (32)
Juan Gutierrez (28)
LaTroy Hawkins (37)
Aaron Heilman (33)
Ryota Igarashi (33)
Jason Isringhausen (39)
Brad Lidge (35) – Type B
Scott Linebrink (35)
Mike MacDougal (35)
Guillermo Mota (38)
Pat Neshek (31)
Ramon Ortiz (39)
Vicente Padilla (34)
Tony Pena (30)
Chad Qualls (33)
Jon Rauch (33) – Type B
Fernando Rodney (35)
Takashi Saito (42) – Type A
Dan Wheeler (34) – Type B
Kerry Wood (35) – Type B
Jamey Wright (37)
Michael Wuertz (33)
Joel Zumaya (27)

Left-handed relievers
Mike Gonzalez (34)
John Grabow (33)
Damaso Marte (37)
Trever Miller (39)
Darren Oliver (41) – Type A
Arthur Rhodes (41) – Type B
J.C. Romero (36)
George Sherrill (35)
Brian Tallet (34)

 

Nov 02

They should take a risk.

The Mets have made a string of bad signings when it comes to aging, injured, unproductive  or otherwise scarred players. Moises Alou, Julio Franco, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and Guillermo Mota. We could spend all day adding to the list.

SIZEMORE: Worth a risk.

It isn’t a great free-agent market, but there’s a name on the list worth rolling the dice with despite his recent injury history. The Cleveland Indians failed to exercise their option on outfielder Grady Sizemore, who, at 29, was once one of the game’s blossoming stars, but only played in 210 games the past three seasons.

A gamble, no question, but a thought keeps running through my head: What if he pans out?

Burdened by knee and abdominal injuries the past three years, Sizemore hit just .234 last summer, but prior to that was a three time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner. That’s a substantial resume; certainly better than any other Mets’ outfielder.

Continue reading

Nov 01

Back in the saddle; Mets aren’t.

Greetings folks.

I just got my power back this morning, but don’t have heat. Some kind of surge during the outage blew out the furnace and they aren’t coming until tomorrow. Shivering here, and not getting any warmer learning about the Mets’ offseason plans.

The difference between the Yankees and Mets surfaced again yesterday with the news the Yankees re-signed GM Brian Cashman and reached an agreement on an extension with pitcher C.C. Sabathia. That’s the agressive, proactive approach.

Meanwhile, Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson announced the fences would be moved in, but their exclusive negotiating rights with Jose Reyes would pass without the franchise making an offer. Alderson said this would be a “slow process.”

As I recently suggested, the Mets will let others define the market for Reyes with the hope the shortstop will find the options limited and he’ll opt to stay home. Cherry picking, they call it, and it worked in the trade for Johan Santana.

With big spenders in the Yankees and Red Sox seemingly out, the Cubs not needing a shortstop and their aim on Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder, and the Dodgers being a mess, the market is thinner than Reyes’ agent, Peter Greenberg, would like.

The Phillies – if they don’t re-sign Jimmy Rollins – San Francisco, the Angels and Washington are also reported as teams that might have an interest in Reyes. That’s a decidedly reactive approach, and further defines the comparison to the Yankees.

The likelihood of the Mets re-signing Reyes seems remote, so this might be their best chance to keep him because they won’t be the highest bidder.

The decision to move in the fences will probably cut down on the triples and increase home runs, and some will read this as an admission, or concession, they will lose their All-Star shortstop.

The decision has more to do with salvaging the contract of Jason Bay and reviving  David Wright’s career, which has shown a significant power decline the past three seasons.

Citi Field was designed for a team built on pitching, defense and speed, but the Mets have not added those kinds of players. At least, not enough of them.

I still believe that’s the most fundamental way to construct a team, but the Mets are a team in financial distress and are hoping an increase in home runs will make the cash registers ring.

 

 

 

 

 

Oct 29

Light up the Hot Stove season.

When David Murphy’s fly ball nestled into Allen Craig’s glove last night to end one of the most compelling World Series in history, the partying was ratcheted up a notch in St. Louis, but the Hot Stove Season began everywhere else.

Over the next five days, the Mets hold an exclusive negotiating window with their free agents: Jose Reyes, Chris Capuano, Scott Hairston, Chris Young, Miguel Batista, Jason Isringhausen and Dale Thayer.

REYES: What's he thinking?

 

Of the group, the most likely to return is Capuano, who should be a priority because of the Mets’ thin rotation. The others are interchangeable among the 200 or so free agents that will hit the market.

Reyes, of course, is the one drawing the most interest here, but the Mets won’t complete a deal in this window as the shortstop is determined to test the market and history tells us this won’t get done until December after the Winter Meetings.

At the end of the season I posted the Mets’ ceiling for Reyes should be four years at no more than $20 million a season, and I see no reason to back off that sentiment. I’d actually go lower, say $17 million.

Continue reading

Oct 27

Game 6: Will history be made tonight?

Game 6 is more than a count of what has been played, more than a bookmark to the World Series. Game 6 has its own mystique. The most dramatic World Series usually go seven games, but it can’t get there without a Game 6.

One way or another, it ends after Game 7, which takes away part of the suspense. However, there’s a sense of urgency, of desperation, for the team behind entering Game 6.

FISK: As dramatic a moment as there ever has been.

It is why many of baseball’s most dramatic moments are born to that game. I’ve chosen five, with the criteria being I saw the game and it produced a Game 7. I know there are others.

I’m wondering who will play big for the Cardinals tonight if Texas continues to pitch around Albert Pujols. Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman haven’t done much so far.

Here are my top five Siixes. In each of them the home team won, which might be an omen for the Cardinals. I know there are more, but the criteria is that I saw the game and didn’t read about it. I ask you to chime in with your favorites.

IF IT STAYS FAIR: One of baseball’s most enduring images, and perhaps its greatest game, came in the 1975 World Series on Carlton Fisk’s game-ending homer in the 12th inning as Boston beat Cincinnati, 7-6. Fisk’s homer was made possible by Bernie Carbo’s three-run, two-strike, pinch-hit game-tying homer in the eighth inning.

Fisk’s moment delayed what Red Sox fans would call the inevitable, as Boston lost Game 7 at Fenway Park. This time, it would be the Reds that rallied, when Tony Perez connected off Bill Lee.

THE BALL GETS BY BUCKNER: Another moment etched in time is the ball that got by by Bill Buckner in the 1986 World Series. Down to their last out, the Mets rallied for three runs to beat Boston, 6-5, with the game-winner coming on Mookie Wilson’s dribbler through Buckner’s legs.

The Mets went on to win Game 7, and overcame a three-run deficit to do it. I went into more detail of that game in an earlier post today.

That game was made possible because the Mets prevailed against Houston over 16 innings in Game 6 of the NLCS. Keith Hernandez called it a crucial victory as it kept the Mets from facing Mike Scott, who beat them in Games 1 and 4.

BUCKNER: That ball is for sale.

 

MAYBE THE WORST CALL EVER: One of the game’s most infamous calls came in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the 1985 World Series that might have kept St. Louis from winning. Facing elimination and down 1-0 going into the ninth inning, umpire Don Denkinger ruled Kansas City’s Jorge Orta safe at first on a play in which he was clearly out.

The Royals went on to win that game, 2-1, then rout the Cardinals, 11-0, in Game 7.

WE’LL SEE YOU TOMORROW: That was Jack Buck’s great call after Minnesota’s Kirby Puckett homered in the 11th inning off Atlanta’s Charlie Leibrandt which kept the 1991 Series alive for the Twins with a 4-3 victory in the Metrodome.

Puckett’s drive set up Jack Morris’ ten-inning shutout, 1-0, in arguably, outside of Don Larsen’s perfect game, might have been the greatest Series game pitched.

HAIL THE RALLY MONKEY: I loved the Angels’ rally monkey, which began with a famous movie clip where the monkey was interjected at the critical spot. My favorite was the Animal House screen where John Belushi was on the ladder and instead of the girl undressing you see the monkey.

Often forgotten, perhaps because the game wasn’t decided on a game-ending hit, Anaheim rallied from five runs down in the seventh inning to beat San Francisco, 6-5, in 2002. The Angels scored three in the seventh and three in the eighth to win, then won Game 7.

ORIOLES STAY ALIVE: The Orioles faced elimination when they returned home for Game 6 of the 1971 World Series. The Pirates started reliever Bob Moose, who took a 2-0 lead into the sixth. The Orioles chipped away to send the game into extra innings.

The Pirates loaded the bases in the tenth inning, but Dave McNally came out of the bullpen to snuff the threat, and Brooks Robinson won it, 3-2, with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning.

This was Roberto Clemente’s World Series, which was noted for playing games at night for the first time.

I don’t know what is in store for tonight, but I hope it is compelling and produces a Game 7. The rainout seems to favor the Cardinals because it would allow them to start Chris Carpenter on three days rest for Game 7. But, we won’t see Carpenter without a Cardinals’ win in Game 6.

Here’s rooting for history.