Dec 01

On this Date ….

Looking Back ....

Looking Back ....

…. In 1998, the Mets dealt catcher Todd Hundley and minor league pitcher Arnold Gooch to the Dodgers for catcher Charles Johnson and Roger Cedeno. The Mets then swap Johnson to the Orioles for reliever Armando Benitez.

Benitez had a checkered career with the Mets, saving 158 games in parts of five seasons. Of course, what most remember about him was the games he didn’t save, particularly against the Braves. Benitez’s history was to unravel if something went wrong. A bloop or bad call could turn into a blown save, and it would start a string of three or four bad outings.

The Mets eventually traded him to the Yankees. Benitez would sign with the Giants and his last game was in 2008.

I covered Benitez with the Orioles and Yankees. I’ll always remember him spitting the bit in the 1997 ALCS, playing a significant part in at least three of the Orioles’ losses. The one moment that crystalizes in my memory is, when after giving up a homer, he plunked Tino Martinez in the back. Then he stood off the mound and gestured the Yankees to come get him.

They did.

ON DECK: What to do about Carlos Delgado later this morning.

Nov 30

Roberto Alomar deserves the Hall ….

It was one moment of uncontrollable action in an otherwise stellar, steady career. Roberto Alomar’s moment came in Toronto, Sept. 27, 1996, while as a member of the Baltimore Orioles, in a flash of blind rage and runaway temper, he spat on umpire John Hirschbeck.

ALOMAR: In better times.

ALOMAR: In better times.


It was stupidity and immaturity, and the moment hung over him the rest of his career, which began in San Diego, and included stops in Toronto (where he won two World Series rings, Baltimore, Cleveland, the Mets and Tampa Bay.

However, it shouldn’t keep him out of the Hall of Fame, nor should his brief, unproductive, seemingly mailed-in performance with the Mets.

I covered Alomar for two seasons in Baltimore, and this was a five-tool second baseman who could dominate a game as well as any slugger.

In a game against Boston, he homered, beat out a bunt and stole a base, made a scintillating back-handed diving catch of a line drive, and made a throw I still envision. He was about 70 feet down the right field line for the cutoff, but knowing he had no chance at the runner at home, threw behind the runner rounding third to nail him.

ALOMAR: Ten Gold Gloves.

ALOMAR: Ten Gold Gloves.


He made plays like that all the time and with the game on the line I wanted him up as much as anybody.

Said former teammate Pat Hentgen: “He was just so good at everything. He ran the bases well, he was a clutch hitter, he hit for power, he played tremendous defense, and he made everyone around him better defensively. Just a clutch performer. He always rose to the occasion.”

Except that day in Toronto.

There are several criteria for being a Hall of Famer, but they are subjective to the voter. Alomar gets mine because he dominated his position for over a decade. There was no better second baseman. He went to 12 All-Star Games and won ten Gold Gloves.

Numbers wise, among second basemen, he ranks first in steals, sixth in hits and seventh in runs scored. Just numbers, but when the game was in the balance he dominated.

He’ll get my vote.

Nov 29

Would you empty the shelves for Miguel Cabrera?

The name stares at you from the computer screen. Miguel Cabrera.

CABRERA: Should the Mets take his baggage?

CABRERA: Should the Mets take his baggage?


The Detroit Tigers, in a payroll cutting-mode, will listen to offers for the enigmatic first baseman. This guy would fill a lot of holes for the Mets. He’d take care of first base for the next six seasons and provide a potent right-handed bat.

But, he won’t come without a price.

In 2010, Cabrera will be entering the third year of an eight-year, $152.3 million deal. Here’s the breakdown: $20 million the next two seasons; $21 million in 2012 and 2013; and $22 million in 2014 and 2015.
Continue reading

Nov 28

Of course he would ….

Roy Halladay said he would waive his no-trade clause to pitch for the Yankees. He’d probably to the same to pitch for the Red Sox. Either way, that’s not encouraging news to the Mets if they were banking on the Blue Jays being reluctant to deal within the division.

The Blue Jays, it seems, are willing to deal with the Yankees and Red Sox. Throw in the Phillies, Dodgers and Angels, and there are five teams better than the Mets with the resources to make a trade. I was never banking on Halladay to begin with, but this should end that kind of talk.

If the Mets are going to add a pitcher, it will be a middle-tier arm, and FA is the way to go so they don’t have to give up prospects.

Halladay isn’t coming here, and neither is Lackey. The Mets will be lucky to get a guy like Jason Marquis.

Nov 25

If I’m Omar ….

If I am Omar Minaya, then I’m taking Jeff Wilpon at his word in his postseason press conference in which he said the Mets would be aggressive in both the FA and trade markets. If I am Omar, I know my job is at stake this season so I’m not holding anything back.

MINAYA: Will it be another head scratching summer?

MINAYA: Will it be another head scratching summer?


I’ve been writing the Mets would be conservative, but in reality they shouldn’t. As a general manager, Minaya’s responsibilities are to the present and future. However, that’s under normal circumstances. This isn’t a normal time for the Mets.

The Mets need to win right away for Minaya to keep his job, that means dramatic improvement. He doesn’t have the luxury of waiting for the prospects to develop. By the time they do, Minaya might be gone.

Minaya has to think that way, as being prudent and his job security aren’t mutually compatible. If trading F-Mart this winter makes the Mets better next summer, that’s something Minaya needs to act upon, because next summer could be his last.