Aug 30

Money Is Why Mets Won’t Bring Up Wright And Alonso

David Wright’s stay in Class AAA Las Vegas was a short one as he rejoined the Mets today in San Francisco. However, the move isn’t for our eyes, but the team’s medical staff.

“It’s unrealistic to think he would be activated anytime soon, based on what we have seen to this point,” assistant general manager John Ricco said on a conference call with reporters. “But we really have been taking it step-by-step and giving him every opportunity to get back.”

WRIGHT: Talks limits with Collins. (AP)

WRIGHT: Talks limits with Collins. (AP)

Wright told reporters in Las Vegas: “My goal is to play in the big leagues this year. I think that with the challenge I have physically, I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that I could play in the big leagues this year.’’

Wright went 1-for-9 in two rehab games with Las Vegas, and in 12 games overall – including ten games with Class A St. Lucie – Wright hit .171.

Clearly, Wright isn’t playing with any consistency to warrant being activated, but another factor is the insurance policy the Mets hold on his contract. Currently, the team is recouping 75 percent of his $20 million salary, but that will end once he comes off the disabled list.

If Wright is activated once the rosters are expanded Sept. 1, it would cost the Mets over $2 million, and, his deductible would automatically reset, costing them even more next season.

Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon has repeatedly said the team considers Wright’s salary part of their payroll regardless.

Working out with the team would not entail playing in games as the minor league schedule will end next week. In all probability, he could be shut down for September.

“Right now, we’re focused on, let’s see how he finishes up here in the last few days and we’ll have some more discussions about the specifics of what the rest of the year looks like,” Ricco said.

Money is also a significant reason why top prospect first baseman Peter Alonso won’t be brought up. Ricco said Alonso needs to improve his defense, but also the Mets need to look at Jay Bruce at first base in preparation for next season.

“To have Pete come up and really just sit didn’t make a lot of sense,” Ricco said.

Alonso told MLB.com: “I’m not going to lie, it’s really disheartening and disappointing because one of the things that people tell you is as long as you are successful, you’re going to be in the big leagues. It’s just one of those things where I understand it’s an organizational decision, and at the end of the day, I have to respect that. But it’s really disheartening because I feel like I’ve performed, and am deserving of a reward.’’

In 125 combined games at Class AA Binghamton and Las Vegas, Alonso hit .277 with a .393 on-base percentage, 33 homers, 26 doubles and 111 RBI.

 

Jan 04

Imagine Being A Marlins’ Fan

If you’re a Mets fan, and the assumption is you are, then you have to be grateful to Miami, because as stagnant as Wilpon’s team has been, the Marlins simply don’t care. Derek Jeter, one of baseball’s greatest frauds, is the face for the Marlins’ latest ownership group bent on stripping whatever competitiveness is left of the franchise.

The Marlins, reeling after the death of ace Jose Fernandez, were realistically a pitcher or two of being a contender for a wild card. Two starters could have made it a possibility.

Well, after trading Dee Gordon to Seattle, and Giancarlo Stanton the Yankees for a song, and then Marcell Ozuna to the Cardinals for a whistle, the Marlins can be regarded possibly as worse than the Mets.

That would be assured if Jeter is successful in trading outfielder Christian Yelich, catcher J.T. Realmuto and infielder Martin Prado. Compounding matters for the Mets is the contenders to land these players are the Nationals, Braves and Phillies.

Reportedly, Jeter told MLB in the screening process he had no intention of stripping the Marlins. Whether he did or not is open for debate, but his actions speak otherwise.

The Marlins’ ownership groups have always been a mess, and it goes before Jeter. Have you forgotten the Marlins gutted their franchise after winning the World Series in 1997 and 2003?

This time Jeter didn’t even wait until a parade. He has scuttled the Marlins. So, if you think things are bad with the Mets, imagine being a Marlins fan.

Nov 01

What History Will Be Written Tonight?

Home runs and extra-inning games don’t necessarily define a great World Series. Those things, plus a tight and compelling Game 7 – which could also have aces Clayton Kershaw and Dallas Keuchel working out of the bullpen – could lift the 2017 World Series into the category of classic.

Sometime after midnight, and probably for the sixth time during this Series after the sixth inning, MLB will have a new champion, and the 39th crowned after a Game 7.

“This is the biggest stage, the best stage, an opportunity to win the World Series in Game 7,’’ said Astros manager A.J. Hinch.

Hinch’s ace, Justin Verlander, the loser in Game 6 who could be available for a batter or two tonight, said Game 7 was inevitable.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, said the same: “It seems fitting. You’ve got the two best teams in baseball going head to head. Like we’ve talked about from the beginning, these two teams mirror one another. And the compete and fight in both teams is the most important thing I see as similarities.’’

The Dodgers won 104 games this season, while the Astros won 101 games. It is the first time since 1970 – Orioles vs. Reds – that both teams won over 100 games.

This World Series has had just about everything. Outstanding pitching and explosive offense. It has had great defense and crappy defense. It has had stars, both on the field and in the stands – although a few less shots of celebrities would be nice.

There’s been so much to like about this Series. The one thing it hasn’t had is former Mets start Carlos Beltran delivering in the clutch.

Maybe we’ll get that tonight.

Oct 30

Were You Up Last Night?

Last night was the kind of game that if the casual observer were to tune in, they might get hooked on baseball. The same might be said of kids, that is if they were up at that hour.

Five-hour games are an aberration, and this isn’t about speeding up the pace. It’s about starting games at a reasonable hour. If a game starts at 8:30 p.m., it stands to reason the game will end close to, if not after, midnight.

Is this any way to cultivate the next generation of baseball fans, not to mention, ticket buyers?

Of course, that doesn’t seem to be on Commissioner Rob Manfred’s agenda, much like it wasn’t on Bud Selig’s. A commissioner’s obligation is to act in the best long-term interest of baseball, and this doesn’t necessarily mean the best short-term financial interest.

Baseball’s lifeblood is in its network television contracts, first FOX, followed by separate cable deals. The Division Series and League Championship Series were shown on FOX, FS1, TBS and its own MLB Network. None of these networks can draw the ratings that really brings in the advertising revenue.

That these games are traditionally shown at hours that virtually eliminate East Coast viewers after 11 p.m., but that’s all right because it gets the Pacific Coast from start to finish.

How MLB determines the first two hours on the West Coast are more valuable than 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. on the East Coast is beyond me.

What is most aggravating about MLB’s network alliances is how baseball has given the television networks carte blanche to schedule games as it wants with no regard to the public or to the sport. What MLB mostly means to the networks is a vehicle to promote its primetime schedule.

MLB is letting its product get shortchanged just for the money. It’s why World Series games are no longer telecast during the day. It has been that way for decades and doesn’t figure to change anytime soon.

Quite simply, it is because FOX doesn’t want to bump its football coverage, both college and pro. The networks value football over baseball, but as long as baseball gets its money it doesn’t care being second best.

Is that any way to market a sport, or anything else, by accepting being No. 2?

 

Oct 18

Playoff Scheduling Needs Fixing

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the experience of coming from two games down to beat Cleveland in the Division Series helped them in coming back from two games down to take a three-games-to-two series lead over the Astros with the ALCS heading back to Houston.

While it could have a contributing factor, I think it is secondary to Major League Baseball’s inane playoff scheduling of 2-3-2, which in this case rewards the wild-card team of having three straight games at home.

Such a format neutralizes the home field advantage the Astros earned by winning 101 games during the regular season compared to the Yankees winning 91 games.

Isn’t having the best record supposed to stand for something?

The fairest playoff format in all sports for a seven-game playoff series is 2-2-1-1-1. Baseball doesn’t do it that way, saying it wants to cut down on cross-country travel. Seriously? In October it wants to cut down on the travel?

Beginning with the wild-card games, why do they have to be played on different dates? That’s because MLB cares more about playing as many games as possible in primetime.

Normally, that would carry some weight if we were talking about the major networks broadcasting the games. But, instead there were games telecast on four networks: FOX, FX1, TBS and MLB Network.

I wonder how much of the country missed out on some games?

For the ALCS and NLCS rounds, only four times was each league scheduled on the same date. That’s ridiculous scheduling.

It’s bad enough that if the World Series goes seven games, Game 7 will be played Nov. 1.  I know things will never go back to the way it was, and I know MLB – like all sports – cares more about placating television than the fans in the stands, but c’mon, you have to do better than this.

With some creative scheduling during the regular season, MLB could easily cut a week off the calendar and start the playoffs earlier.

For example, since we have the unbalanced schedule thanks to interleague play, have at least once a month have teams play day-night doubleheaders within the division. Three home; three away.

That would cut six days off the schedule, it would make for more off days during the season, and enable the playoffs to start a week earlier.

C’mon Manfred, be a commissioner for the game and not just the owners.