Sep 30

Don’t expect much this winter.

Sandy Alderson said not to expect the Mets to spend much for than $5 million last winter and he held true to his word, and still they paid out $147 million in salaries this summer. He just said the payroll will probably not be much more than $120 million next year, and that’s after taking Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo off the books and not picking up the option on Carlos Beltran.

Alderson said there’s money to re-sign Jose Reyes, but strongly suggested the Mets won’t be able to do much more than him, and this is a team with a multitude of holes, most of them pitching.

The free-agent market has several marquee names, but outside of Reyes, they won’t be big players, and current indications the Mets won’t bust a gut on their shortstop. They’ll make an offer that won’t be accepted, Reyes won’t give the Mets a hometeam discount and he’ll be gone.

There’s also a new Collective Bargaining Agreement to be negotiated, and don’t expect any big spending before then. There are a lot of pending issues and unique financial circumstances surrounding this team.

I’ve been following the Mets long enough to realize nothing with them ever gets done easily and this winter won’t be an exception.

Sep 29

Beautiful history … and Reyes.

It was stunning to see the Red Sox and Braves collapse over the past month, then finally crumble last night. We witnessed two of the great finishes in history, and the nature of it reminded us again of baseball’s magical power and hold on us.

It told us again a game and season are never over until the mathematics dictate it to be true. The winters will be long in Boston – which they are used to by now – and in Atlanta. Both teams seemed givens a month ago, only to turn around and give it away.

Maybe, there will be a new curse in Boston.

A pennant race is the best baseball has to offer, and heading into September there seemed no suspense, not much to make us curious. But, as it has for generations, the sport inexplicably grabbed us by the scruff of the neck and shook us awake.

It made us scramble in the morning to find the scores, to force us to take a peak at the television in bars and restaurants, to ask a stranger if he knew what happened. I was in a restaurant last night that was pro-Boston. It was raucous early in the evening, but a deathly Buckner-like quiet at closing time.

As ugly as it was in Boston and Atlanta, it was beautiful to see in St. Petersburg and St. Louis, and magical throughout the rest of the country. It was truly something historic and made us realize nothing should be taken for granted.

As I thought about the grand scale, I recalled  of how earlier in the day Jose Reyes took his place in baseball history for granted. He got his hit, a bunt hit, then decided to pack it in. He figured the odds were in his favor, Ryan Braun wouldn’t catch him and he’d have is own secure spot in history.

He figured right, but didn’t count on how he’d be remembered. For those of us who follow the Mets, he is the franchise’s first batting champion. But, he backed in. One of the great stories in baseball lore is how Ted Williams refused to sit on his average and insisted on playing both games of a doubleheader in 1941, went six-for-eight and finished at .406.

Williams’ .406 is one of baseball’s magical numbers and we’ll forever remember him. But, there’s nothing magical, or special, about Reyes or his .335. He’s somebody history will forget, and fittingly, take for granted.

The Mets finally have a batting champion, but he’s no champ.

Sep 27

Nice cooperation.

The decision by the Mets to exercise their territorial rights and reject the Yankees’ request to move their farm team to Newark for one season seems childish and petty. As if any self-respecting Mets fan from New Jersey will all of a sudden follow the Newark team.

The Mets aren’t losing any fans from Jersey, and if by chance some do defect, the number will be so small it wouldn’t matter.

I would think after another losing season, and their marquee player on the verge of leaving, attendance sliding and the financial problems with their ownership that the Mets have better things to worry about.

Yes, the decision was within their rights, but that doesn’t mean it was the right thing to do. It was childish and petty, and violates the sense of cooperation that should exist between the two franchises.

There will be a time when the Mets will need for the Yankees to throw them a bone and they won’t get it. And, it would serve them right.

Sep 27

Reyes: A parting gift?

What we’ve never seen from the Mets has been a batting title winner, and Jose Reyes is leading by micro-percentage points. Undoubtedly, a feel good story for the Mets would be for him to win the tile and announce he’s staying.

It would give us a fresh feel and sense of optimism heading into winter, which for the Mets is two days away.

But, I can’t help but think Reyes winning the title will be a paring gift before he hits free agency. For an organization whose history has been tumultuous – some would even say cursed at times – it seems fitting.

In a roundabout way it would be like Tom Seaver, David Cone, Nolan Ryan and Dwight Gooden throwing their no-hitters as ex-Mets.

Part of me doesn’t want to see Reyes win the title and flaunt it in another uniform, but another part of me knows Mets history well enough to think that will be the case.

 

 

Sep 26

Big Pelf? Nope. Big poof.

Did you really expect Mike Pelfrey to beat Roy Halladay yesterday? Neither did I … nor did I expect him to outpitch Halladay in any capacity.

PELFREY: Ends disappointing season on flat note.

What I expected was Pelfrey to pitch with pride and intensity. I hoped after this letdown of a season, in his final start he would step up and close out with a performance to give him a good taste going into winter.

Instead, he gave us another sour start, and himself a lot to think about in the coming months.

He proved he was a Big Poof instead of a Big Pelf.

“I wanted to finish strong.  That obviously was the furthest thing from it,’’ said Pelfrey, who gave up five runs on nine hits in three innings.

On a positive note, at least he was back in the clubhouse in time to catch the end of the Giants game.

Pelfrey finished 7-13 with a 4.74 ERA and a myriad of questions and concerns about his future with the Mets. How can there not be with the Mets losing 22 of his 34 starts?

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